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Social Work Seminar Series: Disclosure pathways, discourse responses and professional dialogue: Children's experiences of care and control within the institutionalized custodial setting following disclosure of sexual abuse

This lecture will examine the relationship and dynamic that exists between and within culture, power, care and control in relation to the validity and hierarchy of experience associated with the disclosure of sexual abuse within institutionalized custodial settings.

Alan Wood pictureA psycho-social approach is utilized to examine and explore how bureaucratic responses to disclosures of sexual abuse from children were driven and defined by cultural expectations within the institutions which were formed through the physical and emotional conflict inherent within the care/control ratio of adult responses to the ‘dangerousness’ of children and young people within these institutions. Similarly, exploration is offered in regard to how the responses from these children and young people experiencing sexual abuse within these controlled institutionalized settings was shaped through the physical; social and psychological environment and associated notions of ‘dangerousness’ associated with members of staff.  

International research is examined relating to the prevalence of and response to child sexual abuse within institutionalized custodial settings and is used to illustrate universal features of the nature of experience and response to disclosures within such settings.

The paper also explores the dynamics between ontological / epistemological factors associated with the processes of investigation undertaken by the author relating to the information reviewed, as such, discussion is offered upon the ethnographic and phenomenological nature of this investigation.  

Alan Wood is a visiting professor at the University of Chester and independent consultant. Alan was commissioned by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the United Kingdom to investigate how 6 custodial institutions responded to allegations of sexual abuse made by children subject to custody. Alan is a Master’s degree level qualified Social Worker and Child Therapist (Universities of Keele and York), and over the past 30 years of practice has worked in Leadership, Senior Management, and practitioner roles within the Statutory, Voluntary and Private Sectors across England. Throughout this period of practice and management Alan has worked within the sphere of safeguarding, court work, children who are looked after and therapy delivery.

Alan was also an approved Foster Carer for a period of 9 years, looking after Teenagers who had experienced multiple placement breakdowns and severe levels of trauma.

Alan Wood pictureAlan’s area of interest in regards to research and learning focuses upon the individuality of experience within systems and processes associated with ‘protection and control’.
Alan was the expert witness to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse investigation into how 6 custodial institutions responded to allegations of sexual abuse from Children subject to custody. He has also authored management reviews and Serious case Reviews linked to the death of children; and has been commissioned by the Coroners Court and the Crown Court in regards to investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of children, with a particular focus upon the response of agencies to the needs of extremely vulnerable children.
Alan is currently employed by the Martin James Foundation as Director of Academic Partnerships; Research and Learning. This Foundation aims to work on a global basis to help Governments and agencies deinstitutionalize care for Children in a safe and Child focused manner.
Alan was awarded the title of Visiting Professor at the University of Chester in recognition of his contribution to the sharing of knowledge regarding the needs and experiences of Children who have experienced high levels of trauma.

Dr. Yohai Hakak
Senior Lecturer In Social Work
T +44(0)1895 265844 | E