To understand the new child protection paradigm, first think about what is meant by a “paradigm.” It is a set of assumptions, concepts, and approaches guiding practice in a specific field. The child protection paradigm, then, is the set of assumptions, concepts, and approaches child protection workers use to protect abused and neglected children.
Assumptions: An assumption is something people believe but cannot necessarily prove. For example, children should be protected from people who have harmed them or who are likely to harm them. Children should be kept out of harm’s way.
As you can see, keeping children out of harm’s way is an idea with which most people would agree, although there is no way to “prove” it is the right thing to do. It is an assumption, something most people believe is true.
Concepts: A concept is a general idea or way of thinking about something based on specific observations or experiences. For example, the concept of child development is based on seeing children grow and mature as they get older. The idea is children “develop” from less complex people to more complex people. This is based on many observations of different children at different times and on the experience of many observers. “Child development,” for example, is a concept used to think about and talk about a particular aspect of childhood.
Of course, “childhood” is also a concept used to think about and talk about another, particular set of observations and experiences. “Abuse,” “neglect,” and “protection” are themselves concepts based on observations and experience.
Approaches: An “approach” is a set of strategies and actions used to direct what people do as they practice their profession. For example, child protection workers “investigate” reports of child abuse and do not simply take children away from their parents based on unsubstantiated reports. “Investigating” is an “approach.” Similarly, workers go to the child’s home and do not simply expect parents to bring the child to the worker’s office. “Home visiting” is another “approach.”