Relationship-based Practice in a Digital World (young people, internet use, self-harming and suicidal behaviour)

Thursday 23 May 2013, 1.30PM to 4.15pm

Speaker(s): Prof. Corinne May-Chahal, Department of Applied Sciences, Lancaster University and Dr Jo Bell, Department of Social Sciences, University of Hull. Chaired by Dr Margaret Bell, Independent Social Worker

 What are the risks to children using the internet and where does social work fit in technological research and practice? In this presentation, Corinne May-Chahal broaches these issues and ventures into the world of safeguarding children in a digital world,or, as she terms it ‘cyborg childhoods’. This understanding of childhood challenges child protection social work’s current concern which remains largely with offline harm and injury and separate from the focus on child protection in relation to risks online and children’s use of computer-mediated communication and the internet. Corinne will draw on original research reporting children’s methods for assessing who they are talking to online and identifying child abuse images in peer to peer networks, as part of a wider study designed to develop software tools for improved online child safety.

Findings from the research are that children use similar methods to detect identity online as they do offline and that thereare many inter-connections between mediated and unmediated communication in the perpetration of abuse.  Thus, it is argued, social workers must address safeguarding children in a digital world that is neither online nor offline, but both. Drawing on the concept of cyborg youth and understanding contemporary child protection in this context allows a re-visioning of the social work role that demands attention to computer-mediated literacy in relationship based practice.   An understanding of the networked publics and identities of children and their parents and carers is essential to the assessment of need and risk in safeguarding.

Taking a closer look at a more specific aspect, the second presentation will explore the increasingly important role which the internet plays in the lives, treatment,and recovery of self-harming and suicidal young people. The proliferation of message boards, web sites, blogs, and other virtual socializing venues dedicated to the issue of self-harm and suicide, which have come into existence over the last decade, highlight the critical place of the Internet for effective intervention. However, very little is known about how Internet use influences self-harming and suicidal behaviour in young people and current literature presents a picture of contradictions.

The presentation ‘Young People, Internet use, and Self-harming and Suicidal Behaviour’ looks at the role of the Internet in influencing self-harm and suicidal behaviour in young people and considers the ways in which Internet use and online communication can be both helpful and harmful. Implications for practice and prevention are discussed.

Location: York

Admission: See flyer for details


Telephone: 01904 321237