Report on child neglect, creative arts and resilience

Date: 23rd August 2016
Category: Protection from abuse or neglect

The Scottish Universities Insight Institute (SUII) supports programmes of knowledge exchange which address and provide insight on substantial issues that face Scotland and the wider world. This programme and subsequent report explores the critical arts approach to combat the impact of neglect.

Partners on the programme were from the University of Dundee, the University of Stirling's WithScotland, Macrobert Arts Centre, YDance, Westerhailes Education Centre and Art Psychotherapist.

Neglect is one of the most damaging childhood experiences. It is associated with some of the poorest behavioural, emotional and cognitive outcomes, negatively affects wellbeing and life chances, and contributes to widening inequalities in 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 not all children are reached, 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, the 'Child Neglect, Wellbeing and Resilience: Adopting Arts-based Practices' project held interdisciplinary and cross-sector seminars from October 2015 to March 2016 to 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.