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Sue’s Practice Week Blog

Executive Director of Children's Services, Sue Butcher introduces Practice Week 2022!

Welcome to Practice week.

We are going to be focusing on the individual identity of the Children and Adults that we work with them and how we speak with and work with them. I am pleased to be here and I know that there is a great programme ahead of us. I certainly hope to attend as many sessions as possible.

I would like to take a few minutes of your time to talk about the words that we use everyday. So, is it language that changes? Is it the way we use it that changes? Or is it both?

Words like dull, plump, lack, limited, loose, battered, sin, are words that we use every day and they are fine to use in the right context but what if the context is the wrong one.

So some examples,

Most of you will know that I hate the acronym LAC and I strongly and proactively discourage its use however, CiN – Children in Need – is awful too but I have had less success with demoting that acronym. Why? 

I trained as a social worker when the phrase ‘Battered Babies’, had only just gone out of fashion and it was still all over people’s files. Neglect and sexual abuse were simply not recognised.

To take us back slightly further, I worked with adults who had been adopted to support them in gaining access to their Birth Records (it was mandatory back then) and I was often asked to look back at the records of people born in the 1960s – the so-called age of ‘liberation’. Birth mothers were described as ‘dull’, ‘Mother is a dull woman with no prospects’. ‘Mother is plump and plain’. Even as adults their birth children were devastated to hear their birth parents described in that way.

So remember that what you write and say leaves an indelible mark on people’s lives and one day children will come back and read what is written, or hear what is said about them. Can I urge you to write as though the child is sat on your shoulder, write as though the family is looking over your shoulder and describe people in a way that you yourself would be able able to accept and process.  

Language is Powerful and we must use it positively to shape the future.

Thank you.