These words were spoken by an 11-year-old girl to a child protection social worker in England in 1909. The fact that she was being sexually abused by her father, as well as neglected, serves to show that the problem of child abuse has a long history. What was new at this time was the social work practice that brought this abuse in the family home to light. This is a book about those child protection practices. To begin to outline what these practices involve and to evaluate how child protection can most effectively be done, we need to go back and consider how it began and ask: Why is child protection practice done in the ways that it is? Why, for example, is the home visit so central to its methods? This chapter provides a historical analysis of the emergence of child protection practices, especially the home visit. It shows that the concerns arising from recent high-profile cases are nothing new but have been around for as long as there has been a modern child protection practice. The chapter uses historical case studies to show how, from the outset, gaining access to homes, moving around homes, inspecting them and the children have been crucial practices in protecting children, but we have lost touch with their importance and no longer have a language to adequately describe and understand them.
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- Knocking on the door of history
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