Journal Article

Social Work Students' Perceptions of Child Abuse: An International Comparison and Postmodern Interpretation of its Findings

R. JAMES CHRISTOPHERSON

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 28, issue 1, pages 57-72
Published in print February 1998 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 1998 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.bjsw.a011318
Social Work Students' Perceptions of Child Abuse: An International Comparison and Postmodern Interpretation of its Findings

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SUMMARY

The decision about whether behaviour with children is acceptable has far-reaching consequences for those involved. Social workers must decide what behaviour leads people into the child protection system. This study aims to identify how far social work students achieve a consensus on the acceptability of behaviour, and whether similar items achieve agreement between groups in Sweden and England. Forty-four vignettes of behaviour with children which might be seen as unacceptable were administered to 52 first-year social work students in Ume, Sweden, and 50 English students. They were asked to rank the behaviour on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ represented ‘Fine’ and ‘5’ ‘Totally unacceptable'.

Key findings were that there is little consensus within societies about what is acceptable behaviour towards children, and significant differences between them. It is argued that this is the result of the many different discourses operating in the field. The author points out the difficulties this can cause, and argues for the acceptance of a postmodern approach, which though stressing the importance of consensus in decision making, ultimately posits that effective and ethical practice must be based on relationship. Such an approach would resolve paradoxes which have challenged a more modernist understanding of social work.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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