Safeguarding children against fatal abuse in the United Kingdom: an evaluation of the child welfare system from the perspective of practitioners

Deakins, Bethany-Grace (2014) Safeguarding children against fatal abuse in the United Kingdom: an evaluation of the child welfare system from the perspective of practitioners. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The overall aim of this study is to explore the perspectives of child social service practitioners with regards to how outside sources, such as changes in political attitudes and policy, media representations and public perceptions, impact social worker's ability to effectively safeguard children. A review of the existing literature illustrated the gap in research which justifies the need for this study.
    The research was informed through sequential mixed methodology. Secondary analysis of relevant literature was conducted to explore the 'discovery' of child maltreatment - which has come to be seen within Western culture as one of the most heinous crimes. Theories of journalistic techniques employed by the media were critically examined in regards to their influence on manipulating public perceptions by injecting moral values, attitudes and ideas into the minds of the masses. The exploration of media depictions of child maltreatment is vital to appreciate the public perception and understanding of the issue. Following this, primary research in the form of interviews involving three child protection practitioners within the Surrey area were conducted in order to gain thorough and in-depth accounts of their experiences of working within the child welfare system. Primary research findings are then combined with literary knowledge in order to provide thorough, rounded and critical discussions and conclusions.
    The research shows that the media have the power to manipulate public perceptions and inject values into society. On occasion, this power has been used to denounce the efforts of the child social services through scapegoating. There is a prevalent blame culture which is open to discrimination of subgroups, particularly those of low socio-economical standing, by defining individuals with different moral values as 'outsiders'. Practitioners felt that their inability to discuss individual cases with the media resulted in inaccurate accounts. Consequentially, this alters the public's perception of the dangers of child maltreatment and the complexities faced by social workers when assessing the risk to a child. It is suggested that the public lack a thorough understanding of child social services objectives: potential improvements to educate the public are discussed. Ultimately, an improved relationship between the media and child social services, with increased efforts to portray social workers in a positive light, is likely to substantially benefit both practitioners and the families they work with.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2015 14:46
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:48

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