Book Review of "Child Protection: An Introduction" by Chris Beckett

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In the wake of the Baby P case, the issue of child protection has come under increased scrutiny and this book will be of interest to a variety of professionals who work with children. Chris Beckett is senior lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Social Care at Anglia Ruskin University, England. He entered academia in 1999 after a period as a manager of a children and families social work team in Cambridge where he was responsible for setting up one of the first specialist children and families' social work teams in the United Kingdom. The author and co-author of several textbooks and scholarly articles on social work, he also has an interesting creative side-line as a critically acclaimed science fiction writer. In this significantly revised second edition of his best-selling textbook on child protection (first published in 2003), he provides students and practitioners with an introduction to the complex issues involved in child-protection work. The book focuses mainly on the “acute” end of the spectrum of services to children, to discuss the protection of children and young people who have already been subject to serious maltreatment or who are in imminent risk. It consists of 14 chapters that are coherently structured into four main sections and followed up with a comprehensive reference list and index.Part One outlines the historical development of the UK child-protection system, including an acknowledgment of the cross-cultural and interdisciplinary issues that may arise. There is an emphasis on the specific legal and procedural framework that operates within England and Wales, yet readers from other jurisdictions will still find much that is relevant.Part Two examines the issue of child maltreatment and its consequences, and includes chapters on definitions of the various forms of child abuse and neglect, the special vulnerabilities of disabled children and a discussion of both physical and psychological harm. The controversial issue of ritual abuse is also given a brief mention. Part Three goes on to consider the question of when and why abuse and neglect occurs, appropriate responses and associated external factors. It also includes chapters discussing the issues of parental mental illness and substance abuse, parents with learning difficulties, domestic violence and the effects of poverty and social exclusion. In Part Four, the problems and dilemmas facing the child-protection system are discussed, including the real-world restraints that can limit professionals' ability to detect and respond effectively to every incidence of child abuse. The author courageously questions some of the assumptions inherent within the current child-protection system and argues that an acknowledgement of its actual limitations may be a pre-requisite for the development of what he refers to as “an environment that is conducive to strong, imaginative, constructive child protection work” (p. 212).Each chapter includes reflective exercises based on actual case histories to encourage the reader to relate the text to the real-life situations that might be encountered in their own professional practice, and concludes with a useful bullet-point summary of the main learning points. The book is written with an engaging and accessible style throughout and would certainly provide a thought-provoking reference point for anyone involved in the challenging field of child protection. A recommended read.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-209
Number of pages2
JournalChild Care in Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2010

Bibliographical note

DOI: 10.1080/13575270903529631


  • Child Protection
  • child abuse
  • child neglect


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