An exploration of the place of physical touch in social work practice with children: implications for future policy and practice

Wilson, Jessica (2016) An exploration of the place of physical touch in social work practice with children: implications for future policy and practice. BSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    This review explored the use of physical touch with children in social work practice. Ten research papers were identified, and their findings collated and interpreted. This led to the identification of a dominant fear surrounding touch in which professionals expressed concerns that touch could be misinterpreted and result in damaging allegations of sexual abuse. It is argued that the expansion of child abuse as an issue in the public domain has fuelled professionals' anxiety to use touch, in some cases, giving rise to a number of cautious practices. There was an indication that touch practices may also be framed by gendered differences and notions of heterosexism. Furthermore, the impact of sexualising young people was considered to hinder their chance of experiencing appropriate touch, as professionals preferred initiating touch with younger children. Finally, the review identified a significant variation in how professionals adopted their disposition to touch, with a proportion of professionals attributing this to family experiences. There is subsequently a need to incorporate greater elements of physical touch in social work education and training. This could provide opportunities to contextualise touch in social work practice which, in turn, could destabilise the taboo on using touch. This review recognised the need for greater research in order to inform social work education and practice.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Science > School of Health Sciences and Social Work
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2016 15:11
    Last Modified: 05 Aug 2016 15:11
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/21382

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