Journal Article

‘Yesterday's Men’: The Inspectors of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1888–1968

Gary Clapton

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 39, issue 6, pages 1043-1062
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcn031
‘Yesterday's Men’: The Inspectors of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1888–1968

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This paper presents findings from an in-depth study of the archives of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Its particular focus is the work of the Society's Inspectors. The Inspectors' guiding principles, beliefs and motivations are brought out from a variety of archived sources including case records, Society Annual Reports and Minutes, memoranda and memoirs. The period of study covers the origins of the Society in the late 1880s until 1968, when the passing of the Social Work (Scotland) Act gave local authorities greater powers and responsibilities to promote child welfare; this legislation signalled the beginning of the end of the RSSPCC's dominance in the field of the prevention of child cruelty. The paper provides a rich eighty-year-long picture of a group of men—and women—who belonged to the first child welfare agency to intervene systematically in the homes and lives of families. The Inspectors' practices were both punitive and materially helpful. This study of the Inspectors and their attitudes to fathers, mothers and beliefs about what was best for children seeks to place their work and outlooks within a history of modern social work and suggests that the Inspectors and their work can be seen as part of the DNA of social work.

Keywords: RSSPCC; cruelty to children; Inspectors

Journal Article.  8020 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Work

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