On 2 February, our Contextual Safeguarding Lead Fiona attended 'Adultification Bias in the Context of Child Protection' Keynote delivered by Daniel Morris, Director of Programmes at Listen Up.
Daniel spoke about how Adultification can happen within the home in connection to a number of factors, but that when Adultification occurs outside the home it is always rooted in discrimination and bias.
Daniel explained that Adultification bias is a result of colonialism and the enslavement of Black communities; still today Black children are often perceived by society and by services as being 'less innocent' and 'more resilient' (the latter in the sense that they 'must endure').
He gave an example of a young Black boy, for whom indicators of vulnerability were instead seen as indicators of his 'deviancy'. This then led to punitive responses from those whose role it was to care for him, as opposed to the trauma-informed safeguarding response that others in a similar situation may have received. We have definitely seen this among girls and young women of colour that we have supported in the past. We can imagine (and know) how this inherently discriminatory bias within our systems and services impacts on access to the EHCP (education, health and care plan) process for these children, as well as more broadly on their access to the holistic and trauma-informed support that all children deserve.
It was discussed that we need to be able to quantify what we are doing to challenge bias in ourselves and others, and how the term 'unconscious bias' often does not lend itself to action, but instead suggests it is enough to acknowledge the bias and move on. Acknowledgement will never be enough to ensure spaces are safe for Black girls and young women. What action are we taking?
Thank you to Daniel for delivering this important presentation. Abianda team members have attended training sessions with Listen Up in the past. We will continue learning from their insightful research and experience to better understand and address the systemic inequality that Black girls and young women face.