The Family Justice Young People Board (FJYPB) have worked with Cafcass to create jargon free language to be used when speaking to (or writing about) children and young people.
The Word Busting document encourages the use of plain English, with clear, simple and easy to understand explanations, helping children and families understand the role of Cafcass and what is happening to them during their time involved in family court.
What is a “totally busted word”? These are words or phrases that are to be completely replaced in all communications about or with a child or young person.
Words that are busted with an explanation are words that may need to be used in communications for legal reasons but should be followed with an explanation and replaced with an alternative word where suitable.
To aid this, the FJYPB have compiled a list of words and phrases that they often hear during family law proceedings.
The FJYPB hope to encourage all professionals involvement in family law to stop using the current terms and phrases and to think about the ways in which they speak to children and young people. As well as how those words also appear in their reports, on file and when liaising with other professionals.
Below are just a couple of examples of totally busted and busted with an explanation words.
Totally busted – SEN (Special Educational Needs)
Ask the young person how they would describe themselves. Always remain respectful and describe the child or young person’s behaviour in clear child friendly language.
Be specific and say “_____ needs help/ support/ guidance with _____ “.
Busted with an explanation – Behavioural issues
Describe what the young person is experiencing and what their behaviours are.
Explain what they do, why they might be doing that and what their needs are.
Put the behaviours into the context of what is happening to them and how they might be feeling.
A child or young person’s behaviour does not define who they are.
Below is a quick reminder of the other words the FJYPB have busted previously:
Replaced with child’s case, child’s story or child’s journey
To be replaced with Child’s Plan
To be replaced with child’s file or children’s file
To say I have responsibility for a number of families /I have a number of families I am working with
This is to be replaced with brother or sister. This includes half-brother/sister and stepbrother/sister. The word ‘sibling’ may need to be used initially in a court report to explain to the court the relationship. However, we ask that throughout the court report, file recording, emails and when speaking to the child or other professionals that you then use the term brother/sister or even better their name. Remember to ask the child how they refer to their brothers and sisters so that you can refer to them in the same way.