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Discretion and Strategies for Investigating Child Abuse: Social Workers’ Conceptions of Child Abuse Investigations and Police Reporting
Dalarna University, School of Health and Welfare, Care Sciences. Dalarna University, School of Health and Welfare, Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1306-8015
Uppsala University, Uppsala .
Dalarna University, School of Health and Welfare, Social Work. Stockholm University, Stockholm.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3866-5636
Stockholm University, Stockholm.
2023 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263XArticle in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Understanding the capacity of child welfare (CW) organisations to deal with child abuse is complex, and dependent on the specific CW context. Sweden occupies a unique position in trying to balance high demands for CW and protection with a strong family support focus, which carries a risk of overlooking children who need protection. Drawing on an understanding of social service organisations as street-level bureaucracies, this article explores discretion in child abuse cases by examining conditions affecting discretion and strategies for investigating child abuse, including police reporting. Thematic analysis of interviews with Swedish supervising social workers showed that staff’s conceptions of the CW system influenced the exercise of discretion, leading to different strategies for dealing with child abuse. This resulted in different practices and potentially unequal access to child protection and support, highlighting the wide margin of discretion. This article concludes that the interplay between knowledge and governance is central to equal child protection. This article contributes to the discussion of discretion in CW organisations by underlining the importance of being particularly vigilant about discretion when both children and parents are considered clients, as the child risks being lost as a subject with individual needs and rights.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023.
Keywords [en]
child abuse, child protection, child welfare, discretion, police report
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-47289DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcad243ISI: 001102497900001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-47289DiVA, id: diva2:1813562
Available from: 2023-11-21 Created: 2023-11-21 Last updated: 2023-12-11Bibliographically approved

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Quarles van Ufford, SaraSchön, Ulla-Karin

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CiteExportLink to record
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  • ieee
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