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Whistle blower’s experience of child abuse and its impact on professional practice, 05/04/17 [E, W]

Victoria Spry is a young woman on a mission to raise awareness of child abuse and its effects on those who experience it.

At the age of 19, Victoria became the whistle blower that lifted the lid of the extensive abuse she and her siblings experienced at the hands of her foster, and later adoptive, mother. Throughout her childhood Victoria had contact with a range of professionals, including professionals from education, health and social services, despite this the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother was never identified.

Victoria wants to be a positive role model for others who have experienced abuse and is working hard to raise awareness of the importance of multi-agency working and the concept of safeguarding and child protection as ‘everyone’s business’, regardless of the role they play in a vulnerable person’s life. A lack of multi-agency working was one of the main failings identified in the serious case review that arose from her whistle blowing. Victoria’s case highlighted the need for and importance of dental professionals to be aware of and trained to spot the signs and symptoms of abuse. One of the most noticeable effects of the abuse experienced by Victoria was the damage to her teeth from ‘punishments’ that consistently targeted this area. As a direct result of the failings identified in Victoria’s case, dental professionals in England and Wales have a responsibility to undertake child protection training and to follow child protection procedures.

To enhance the child protection training delivered to dentists across Wales, Victoria has recorded her story for dental professionals to truly understand the human cost of overlooking safeguarding concerns. Victoria suffered extensive injuries to her mouth and underwent remedial work to fix her broken teeth, she was never once seen alone by a dentist and a child protection referral was never made to social services despite the repeated and severer nature of her injuries. Victoria shares the importance of professional enquiry and curiosity from dentists working with children and a greater understanding of the relationship between an abuser and their victim to ensure excuses and explanations of injuries are not just accepted at face value.

Victoria has written a book on her experiences, title ‘Tortured’.

For more information on Children in Wales’ child protection and safeguarding children training courses please get in touch: 029 2034 2434 / bookings@childreninwales.org.uk / http://www.childreninwales.org.uk/our-training/.