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How the NSPCC uses video to help parents

Forming stronger bonds through early intervention

Our Neglect Destroys Lives campaign aims to ensure that child neglect is treated with the same urgency as physical or sexual abuse. More children have a child protection plan for neglect than any other form of maltreatment. And the numbers are rising.

We think neglect is rooted in a mix of a poor parenting skills and parents' inability to form warm, loving bonds with their children. Early intervention can help parents change their behaviour and stop problems escalating.

Video Interaction Guidance - How it works

Olwen Prince is a Children's Services Practitioner at the NSPCC's service centre in Hull and has been using video since 1998 to help parents forge stronger bonds with their children.

"I film families doing things like baking, reading or doing jigsaws activities that enable them to spend time together and be physically close.

"After each filming session, I visit the parents and show them three or four clips of positive examples of their parenting. This could be giving the child eye contact, listening to them, anticipating their needs or giving them guidance and helping them to problem solve.

"We focus on the positive, with parents identifying their own areas for improvement. Often parents don’t realise the good things they are doing. Once they see and understand them, they can keep practicing them and they become more natural.

"Using video makes it real for them. It means they can look at how they are interacting with their child for themselves."

Before the videoing begins, we always ask the parent(s) what they want to achieve. Sometimes they want to better manage their child’s behaviour. Or they might want to be closer to them and show them more affection.

"One recent case I had using video was a mum who has four children," Olwen explains. "She spoke to her health visitor about having problems connecting with her six-year-old daughter despite having good relationships with her other children. She would do anything to avoid being in physical contact with this child.

"I remember seeing her read to her daughter on the sofa and the child trying to snuggle up to her mum. But mum couldn't cope and wanted to get away. When she couldn’t move any further she started panicking, and I could see this panic in her face.

"We began exploring the cause of this reaction. It turned out that when she was pregnant with her daughter, her own mother died. As the girl grew she began to share her late grandmother’s characteristics. This combination of factors made the mother feel negative towards her."

Olwen began a programme of filming mum and daughter doing activities that would ensure physical contact. "I took stills from the video showing them touching for a fraction of a second. It was extremely powerful and mum got very upset, but she knew overcoming her struggle would be best for her and her child.

"They gradually began to spend more time with each other and mum was able to cuddle her. One day they were passing our centre in Hull and I saw them holding hands as I looked through the window. That was really special."

Find out about our other neglect services

The NSPCC is running five new programmes to prevent child neglect. These include:

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