Beskyttelse af barndommen : Socialforvaltningers risikovurdering og indgreb

Sammanfattning: The objectives of this dissertation are 1) to describe what child protection services actually do when assessing risk and deciding on interventions, and 2) to analyze this practice in the light of institutional expectations, organizational demands and professional technology. The field work was carried out in two Danish municipal social service agencies. Data consist of records on families subjected to serious interventions. Participant observation of case conferences and social workers' and supervisors' work days was undertaken, including their conversations with clients. In-depth interviews were conducted with mothers whose children had been placed outside home. Protection of children is analyzed in a historical and a child abuse and neglect research context. Results indicate that children's risks are not, as a rule, assessed on the basis of an understanding of the child's well-being, day to day experiences, or symptoms. Child protection services, normally, do not know the children concerned well enough for this. Neither are children's unfavourable socioeconomic conditions considered. Risk is assessed according to parents' conformity with or deviation from dominating cultural and moral conceptions of acceptable adult and parental performance. The services construct "normal cases" in order to adapt family complexity to administrative criteria and the available repertoire of solutions. A central construc tion is "the deviant family", focusing on all deviant traits and relations. Another construction is that of the "undeserving client", stressing parents' demanding and unruly ways. Yet another is "the psychological individual" transforming social needs into psychological problems which can be met by social policy measures. Institutional and legal expectations from child protection are so many and contradictory that the service objective, i.e. protecting children, is at variance with competing interests and expecta tions. The child protection organization maintains its legitimacy and proves its efforts by conforming to a variety of procedural requirements, which favour intra-organizational administrative processes and keep families at a distance. Institutional and organizational contradictions and an uncertain technology account for a child protection professionalism which is based on common sense concepts and moral evaluations and, seldom, includes the use of knowledge verified by research.

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