Domestic Violence and Child Welfare - Dilemmas and Challenges for Child Welfare Services when Involving the Police Department


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Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

Document type


Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy


The aim of this thesis is to illustrate some of the challenges and dilemmas the Child Welfare Services (CWS) face when involving the Police Department, specifically in domestic violence cases. Exploring the considerations of child welfare workers when deciding to report or not report domestic violence cases proved to be an interesting topic. By conducting six interviews with social workers in CWS I have explored how their previous experiences and preconceptions with domestic violence cases play a role in their considerations. I have used Polanyi’s (1966) term “tacit knowledge” as a means to define the knowledge that social workers have gained from experience. This is linked to Schön’s (1987) theory of action. In addition, I have explored how discretion is a major part of decisionmaking in social work. There I have used Lipsky’s (2010) theory of street level bureaucrats and how discretion plays a vital role. Furthermore, Grimen and Molander’s (2008) theory of profession in regards to discretion is also used. Both of these are discussed in tandem with my main research question. The three main aspects of the considerations of reporting domestic violence that emerged from my study is grading violence, cooperation between the Child Welfare Services and the police and the social worker’s experience when involving the Police Department. I have analyzed the material using a hermeneutics perspective, therefore emphasizing the experiences and preconceptions of the social workers. The analyses suggest that if the social worker deems the violence to be less serious, they do not report it. Thusly, in those cases cooperation with the parents is more important. That is because if they have judged the violence to be less serious, forced measures are likely not an option. Their previous experience with the police, and the process of investigative interviews also seem to influence the social workers decision-making process, since they believe it to be extensive and damaging for the child.




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