Young people's views on safety and preventing abuse and harm in residential care: “It's got to be better than home”

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Moore, Tim
McArthur, Morag
Death, Jodi
Tilbury, Clare
Roche, Steven
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2017
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Young people who live in residential care are at greater risk of experiencing sexual abuse and other forms of abuse than those living in other out of home care placements. To better understand how young people perceive and experience safety in residential care, and the things that they most need to be and feel safe, a qualitative study was conducted with 27 Australian children and young people for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This paper describes young people's perspectives on what makes residential care safe: supportive relationships, stability and predictability, fair rules, and having some control over their environment. Young people said that safety could be improved with: better appreciation of the risks in residential care; better matching, staffing and oversight; and better-designed responses that involve young people themselves. The findings provide critical insights from young people themselves and argue that adults and institutions need to appreciate their views of safety so as to adequately respond.

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Children and Youth Services Review
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81
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Social work
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