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Unit information: Children and Social Harm in 2016/17

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Unit name Children and Social Harm
Unit code SPOL30060
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jo Staines
Open unit status Open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit considers the concept of social harm as it affects children and young people globally. The unit seeks to understand how social relations, policies and practices, discourses, actions and inactions can result in social harm caused to children and young people, either directly or indirectly. The unit uses a range of examples to identify the extent to which children may experience economic/financial, physical, sexual, psychological, and cultural safety harms, and the impact of these harms on their wellbeing. These examples may be situated within the family (such as the impact of parental imprisonment, parental substance abuse or homelessness on children’s well-being) or within statutory institutions (such as formal political, justice, educational and/or child welfare systems). Relevant policy interventions will be analysed to understand how we can develop a safer society that reduces the harms experienced by children and young people.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:

  • Understand the concept of social harm as experienced by children and young people
  • Understand the causes, extent and impact of a range of social harms on children and young people
  • Recognise and critically appraise policy interventions aimed at reducing the extent and impact of social harms against children and young people

Teaching details

Lectures and seminars

Assessment Details

The assessment have been developed in order to meet the intended learning outcomes of the unit:

Level 6: formative assessment is a 1 hour mock exam; summative assessment is a 3 hour unseen exam paper

Reading and References

Finkelhor, D. (2014) Childhood victimization : violence, crime, and abuse in the lives of young people, Oxford : Oxford University Press

Jutte, S., Bentley, H., Tallis, D., Mayes, J., Jetha, N., O’Hagan, O., Brookes, H., & McConnell (2015) How safe are our children? The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK, London : NSPCC

Parker, R. (2004) 'Children and the concept of harm' in Hillyard et al (eds.) Beyond Criminology: Taking Harm Seriously, London: Pluto

Pemberton, S. (2015) Harmful Societies: Understanding Social Harm, Bristol: The Policy Press (Chapter Two)

Journals such as Children and Society, Childhood, The International Journal of Children’s Rights