Research suggests that young people experience abuse from peers, and are more likely to abuse others, alongside peers. As such understanding the dynamics of peer groups is essential to developing safeguarding approaches that recognise and understand the contexts in which young people experience harm beyond the home. Current child-protection systems predominantly focus upon individual young people – from referral through to assessment, planning and intervention – and their family relationships. For example, social care assessments often feature a ‘genogram’ or family tree, detailing young people’s family relationships in order to assess safety, protective relationships, etc. Whereas, while peer relationships may be acknowledged within individual assessments, in practice there are limited opportunities to explore and assess the nature of peer relationships and groups themselves. Peer group assessments and peer group mapping provide opportunities for practitioners to understand the relationships between young people and the dynamics of those groups.
Developed with practitioners in Hackney the following two documents provide guidance on how to carry out a peer group assessment and peer group mapping.
Each document is broken into two parts: 'strategic guidance' and 'practice guidance' with case examples and activities. Hackney's peer group mapping information sharing protocol is also shared.
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Peer Group Assessment Guidance
This document outlines the principles of peer group assessment and practical guidance for practitioners on undertaking peer group assessment.
Peer Group Mapping Guidance
These two documents provide guidance on how to carry out a peer group assessment and peer group mapping.
Peer Group Assessment Form
This form can be used as a template when completing a peer group assessment.
Hackney Peer Group Mapping Information Sharing Protocol
This document outlines Hackney's peer group mapping information sharing protocol.
Peer Mapping Examples
The following case studies were shared by a Contextual Safeguarding practitioner in Hackney. They show how peer mapping has been used to support casework with connected young people affected by extra-familial harm. The maps in this briefing have been anonymised and re-created based on the original mapping that was conducted for these cases.