Neglect is one of the most damaging childhood experiences. It is associated with some of the poorest behavioural, emotional and cognitive outcomes (Stein et al., 2009), negatively affects wellbeing and life chances, and contributes to widening inequalities in our society. Policy makers, professionals and researchers see this as a priority area with increasing emphasis on partnership working.
However, there is always a concern that we are not reaching all the children we need to reach, mainly as we might not know who they are. There can be issues of children who are affected by neglect not being able to trust other adults, not knowing how to voice their views, and/or adults working with them not sure of how they can create an environment where, a. professionals can build trusting relationships with them, b. children feel able to express their views.
One approach that has been seen to work with children and young people in other contexts is critical arts based approach, including visual arts, drama, dance, and music. This might be because the quality of critical arts based practice hinges on inclusivity, reflectivity, advocacy with the potential to inspire dialogue, and collaborative, reflective and performance action. It is therefore crucial to explore whether arts based practices, which can make connections to the full range of imaginative and human capacities and talents, igniting interest, inspiration, motivation and desire, as well as stimulating the imagination and engagement, can work in the context of neglect where other approaches have not proven to work.
In addressing these issues, we will hold interdisciplinary and cross-sector seminars which will undertake iterative cycles of inquiry engaging with a range of academics (neglect, wellbeing, arts), arts professionals, other professionals (social workers, teachers, educational psychologists) and policy makers, to systematically explore what is known about child neglect and its impact on children and young people, their families and wider communities; what and in what ways arts based practices can work with the proposed development of a set of national priorities for arts based practice, policy and research in this context.
Hear from some of the seminar's key contributors in the video below: