Social workers' challenges in the assessment of child abuse and maltreatment: Intersections of class and ethnicity in child protection cases.


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Critical and radical social work An international journal;Volume 5, Number 3


Policy Press

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Defining and assessing child abuse and maltreatment has long been a challenge to both researchers and practitioners in social work. Taking an intersectional perspective, this paper explores the meaning of class and ethnicity in professionals’ investigations and assessments in child protection referrals. Overall findings show that class power was particularly actualized for caseworkers facing parents with high social status: In these cases, the parents often resisted the investigation and therefore the caseworkers had difficulties in disclosing or defining the abuse. In comparison, culture was often made relevant in cases involving minority ethnic parents, where abuse often was actualized as corporal punishment. This practice tended to be seen as a cultural issue rather than related to social problems. In these cases, class power was not articulated. The paper sheds light on intersections of class and ethnicity that may affect social work practice with children at risk of abuse and maltreatment.




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