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1.13 Race, Ethnicity and Culture

The population of Liverpool is multi-cultural. Children from all cultures are subject to abuse and neglect. All children have a right to grow up safe from harm. In order to make sensitive and informed professional judgements about a child's needs, and parents' capacity to respond to their child's needs, it is important that professionals are sensitive to differing family patterns and lifestyles and to child rearing patterns that vary across different racial, ethnic and cultural groups.

Professionals should also be aware of the broader social factors that serve to discriminate against black and minority ethnic people. Working in a multi-racial and multi-cultural society requires professionals and organisations to be committed to equality in meeting the needs of all children and families, and to understand the effects of racial harassment, racial discrimination and institutional racism, as well as cultural misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

The assessment process should maintain a focus on the needs of the individual child. It should always include consideration of the way religious beliefs and cultural traditions in different racial, ethnic and cultural groups influence their values, attitudes and behaviour, and the way in which family and community life is structured and organised. Cultural factors neither explain nor condone acts of omission or commission which place a child at increased likelihood of suffering significant harm. Professionals should be aware of and work with the strengths and support systems available within families, ethnic groups and communities, which can be built upon to help safeguard children and promote their welfare.

Professionals should guard against myths and stereotypes, both positive and negative, of black and minority ethnic families. Anxiety about being accused of racist practice should not prevent the necessary action being taken to safeguard a child. Careful assessment, based on evidence of a child's needs, and a family's strengths and weaknesses, understood in the context of the wider social environment, will help to avoid any distorting effect of these influences on professional judgements.

Lord Laming's Report of the Victoria ClimbiƩ Inquiry (The Victoria ClimbiƩ Inquiry, Section 16, Working with Diversity) addresses some important issues related to Race, Ethnicity and Culture.

These include:

  • Guarding against the effect of assumptions based on race, ethnicity or cultural background;
  • The dangers of feeling inhibited from acting in a child's best interests for fear of being accused of racism;
  • The dangers of considering cultural issues before the primary objective of the safety of the child.