Vulnerability and Risk

McPheat, Graham and Fitzpatrick, John Paul (2017) Vulnerability and Risk. YouTube, San Bruno, California. (

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In this session we start by learning what we mean and understand by the terms vulnerability and risk. We begin to think about the possible circumstances that lead children and young people to be assessed as vulnerable and at risk and being in need of care and protection. This involves thinking about concepts of vulnerability, risk and good enough parenting. We also consider how concepts such as these are context specific and can vary depending on culture and setting. From here we begin to reflect upon some of the challenges that are involved in managing issues of vulnerability and risk for children and young people and engage in an exercise where we rank different scenarios in terms of risk. We also consider the relationship between poverty and risk as well as the role of the media in shaping attitudes towards vulnerability, risk and risk management. We then move onto begin to learn about the concepts of attachment, containment and child development. We think about how children and young people grow and develop and the different factors and circumstances that influence this process. We introduce different theories concerning how we can assess the growth and development of children and young people – including both ecological and stage based approaches. Central to this is the relationship between nature and nurture and the question as to which of these influences most help children and young people grow and develop. The process of emotional containment is central to this and we reflect upon personal experiences of watching children grow and develop and the influences of both nature and nurture. We also think about attachment, the process by which children and young people form attachments and relationships with key caregivers in their lives, and the impact this has on them as they grow and develop.