Conference Report: 11th International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect

Conference Report: 11th International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (IPSCAN)

The 11th International Conference of IPSCAN was held in University College Dublin from the 18th to the 21st of August 1996 on the theme of “Children and Families … Creating Stability in an Unstable World”. It was attended by more than 1,400 delegates from 63 countries, and topics ranged from the expected issues of Child Abuse and Protection of Children and their Rights, through to very challenging papers about the ‘Transition from Victim to Offender’ which might call into question the demonization of abusers. The subject of suitable therapies arose in many papers too, including the aspects of cultural differences in different countries which might make different approaches appropriate or inappropriate. The question of Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse was thor­oughly examined, with a major formal debate on the topic, “Does Mandatory Reporting help to Protect Children?” – a question which certainly has no clear answer as yet. A most interesting strand in the Conference was the ways in which the Law may both help and hinder the work of Prevention; or even perhaps abuse children in its own ways, for example by requiring them to act as witnesses.

Ireland (North and South) was strongly represented, showing how much excellent research is being conducted here on Child Abuse. For example, there was a particularly lucid project conducted by Sami Moukaddem, Dr Michael Fitzgerald and Dr Margaret Barry at their Child and Family Centre in Dublin, showing that there is “a significant correlation between the children’s behaviour problems and their mothers’ mental health”. The satisfaction the mothers felt on receiving treatment for themselves was rated at 70% – a remarkably high figure – and not to their perception of an improvement in their children’s behaviour. Once again, the need for entire family and social systems to be attended to, and not just the “perceived patients/problems”, was underlined.

Mary Montaut