Journal Article

Discourses of Child Protection and Child Welfare


in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 27, issue 5, pages 659-678
Published in print October 1997 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 1997 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Discourses of Child Protection and Child Welfare

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The history and dominance of the discourse of child protection and its influence over social work practice with children and families is discussed in the light of recent research into the operation of child protection systems in the UK and elsewhere. The often negative effects of current approaches on professionals, parents, and, particularly, children are highlighted. The issues of confidentiality and empowerment appear to be of central importance for current debates about the welfare of children and young people.

Three strategies for change are outlined and discussed. It is argued that a fundamental challenge to the child protection discourse is required. Parallels are drawn with the changes which occurred in attitudes and responses towards football supporters, following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

The dangers and shortcomings of the present reliance on a disease model of ‘abuse’, with its focus on individual pathology, are analysed. Support is provided for the development of a new discourse, which acknowledges the social contexts within which allegations of ‘abuse’ arise, and without which social work will continue to be restricted to a procedurally dominated conservative orientation to child welfare.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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