Special Issue "Child Protection and Social Inequality"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Professor Paul Bywaters

Centre for Applied Childhood, Youth and Family Research, School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield HD1 3DH, UK
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Interests: child welfare; child protection; social inequalities; social work and health inequalities
Guest Editor
Professor Brid Featherstone

University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield HD1 3DH, UK
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Interests: gender; inequality; service users’ perspectives on child protection and family support services
Guest Editor
Professor Kate Morris

Department of Sociological Studies, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TU, UK
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Interests: Department of Sociological Studies, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TU, UK

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

There is longstanding and widespread evidence of profound differences in reported levels, experiences and outcomes of child abuse and neglect, between countries, between areas within countries, and between subgroups of children and parents. Such differences have been related to poverty and social class, race and ethnicity, child and parental disability and poor health, gender, age and sexual orientation, as well as to law, policy and practice. The sharpest examples, perhaps, concern the experiences and treatment of indigenous peoples. It is unclear whether child protection systems and services merely reflect wider social inequalities, can be effective in reducing or compensating for social inequalities or may exacerbate inequalities in children’s and parents’ lives. However, the characterization of these differences as inequalities that are systematically associated with structural social dis/advantage and are unjust and avoidable (Bywaters et al., 2015) is relatively recent. Currently, an inequalities perspective is very underdeveloped in child protection research and discourse by comparison with the focus on inequalities in health and in education.

This Special Issue of Social Sciences aims to promote the theoretical, methodological and empirical development of such an inequalities perspective. We welcome submissions from authors with a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds in order to establish new thinking and new evidence about child protection inequalities internationally.

Bywaters, P., Brady, G., Sparks, T., Bos, E., Bunting, L., Daniel, B., Featherstone, B., Morris, K. and Scourfield, J. (2015). Exploring inequities in child welfare and child protection services: Explaining the “inverse intervention law.” Children and Youth Services Review, 57. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.07.017

Prof. Dr. Paul Bywaters
Prof. Dr. Brid Featherstone
Prof. Dr. Kate Morris
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Child protection
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Child maltreatment
  • Social inequalities
  • Inequity

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Stripping the Wallpaper of Practice: Empowering Social Workers to Tackle Poverty
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(10), 193; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7100193
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 10 October 2018 / Accepted: 10 October 2018 / Published: 12 October 2018
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Abstract
The relationship between deprivation and health and educational inequalities has been well evidenced in the literature. Recent UK research has now established a similar social gradient in child welfare interventions (Bywaters et al. 2018) with children living in the most deprived areas in
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The relationship between deprivation and health and educational inequalities has been well evidenced in the literature. Recent UK research has now established a similar social gradient in child welfare interventions (Bywaters et al. 2018) with children living in the most deprived areas in the UK facing a much higher chance of being placed on the child protection register or in out-of-home care. There is an emerging narrative that poverty has become the wallpaper of practice, “too big to tackle and too familiar to notice” (Morris et al. 2018) and invisible amid lack of public support and political will to increase welfare spending. This paper will examine poverty-related inequalities and how these affect families. It will discuss the importance of recognising that poverty is a social justice issue and a core task for social work and outline the range of supports that may be available for families to help lift them out of poverty. Finally, it will describe the development of a new practice framework for social work in Northern Ireland that challenges social workers to embed anti-poverty approaches in their practice. The framework emphasises that poverty is a social justice issue, seeks to provide practical support and guidance to re-focus attention, debate, and action on poverty in times of global economic uncertainty and give social workers the tools to make it central to their practice once again. It reinforces the need for social workers to understand and acknowledge the impact of poverty, and to advocate for and support those most in need. It aims to challenge and empower professionals to tackle poverty and inequality as an aspect of ethical and effective practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Protection and Social Inequality)
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Open AccessArticle Child Protection and Social Inequality: Understanding Child Prostitution in Malawi
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(10), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7100185
Received: 16 July 2018 / Revised: 20 September 2018 / Accepted: 27 September 2018 / Published: 2 October 2018
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Abstract
This article draws on empirical research to develop understandings of child prostitution, previously theorised on the basis of children’s rights, feminist, and structure/agency debates, largely ignoring children’s own understandings of their involvement in prostitution. Conducted in Malawi, which is one of the economically
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This article draws on empirical research to develop understandings of child prostitution, previously theorised on the basis of children’s rights, feminist, and structure/agency debates, largely ignoring children’s own understandings of their involvement in prostitution. Conducted in Malawi, which is one of the economically poorest countries in the world, the study goes to the heart of questions of inequality and child protection. Within a participatory research framework, nineteen girls and young women used visual methods to generate images representing their experiences of prostitution. Individual and group discussions were used to illuminate the meanings and significance of their images. With the exception of the youngest, participants understood their initial involvement in prostitution as a means of survival in the face of poverty and/or parental death, or escape from violent relationships, experiences that were subsequently mirrored by exploitation and violence within prostitution. Using the lens of the capability approach, we capture the complexity of child prostitution, demonstrating the ambiguous agency of participants in the face of deeply embedded patriarchal cultural norms that constrained their choices and limited their freedom to pursue valued lives. We end by reflecting critically on the theoretical and methodological contributions of the study, making policy and practice recommendations and identifying opportunities for further research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Protection and Social Inequality)
Open AccessArticle Social Class and Child Welfare: Intertwining Issues of Redistribution and Recognition
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(9), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7090143
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 22 August 2018 / Accepted: 23 August 2018 / Published: 28 August 2018
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Abstract
By the end of the 20th century, social class appeared to be an old-fashioned and outdated concept. Serious doubts were expressed about the theoretical and empirical relevance of social class in understanding inequalities in contemporary society. However, experiences from completing research with children
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By the end of the 20th century, social class appeared to be an old-fashioned and outdated concept. Serious doubts were expressed about the theoretical and empirical relevance of social class in understanding inequalities in contemporary society. However, experiences from completing research with children and families receiving support from child welfare services shows that applying a class perspective is useful. The purpose of our study was to explore the redistributive and cultural dimensions of social class in the context of child welfare. The data include survey interviews with 715 families in contact with the Norwegian child welfare services (CWS). We found that social class is important but with different effects compared with the industrial society. Our analysis highlighted the problems children and families involved with CWS face, associated with social inequalities based on class differences. We argue that social class is part of the social dynamic of late modern societies, and that this dynamic intertwines with the lives of families in CWS and the problem complexes they encounter in everyday life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Protection and Social Inequality)
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Open AccessArticle Inequalities in US Child Protection: The Case of Sex Trafficked Youth
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(8), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7080135
Received: 1 July 2018 / Revised: 10 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 August 2018 / Published: 13 August 2018
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Abstract
This article demonstrates how structural social work theory and critical consciousness development can be used to help facilitate a transition from a deficit model approach to an inequities perspective in a child welfare system that was working to improve the identification of and
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This article demonstrates how structural social work theory and critical consciousness development can be used to help facilitate a transition from a deficit model approach to an inequities perspective in a child welfare system that was working to improve the identification of and services for domestic minor sex trafficked youth (DMST). The response of Connecticut’s child welfare system to the issue of DMST is provided as an example of how a child welfare systems could apply an inequities perspective to a population involved in and at risk for exploitation. Structural social work theory helps illustrate how neo-liberalist social structures in the United States perpetuate and maintain social inequity based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status for youth at risk for DMST. Through critical consciousness development, youth can be recognized as victims of intersecting forms of oppression, rather than criminals. These theories can be combined to increase individual awareness of the risks and oppression of youth across the population, and to identify how child welfare services can be leveraged to decrease inequities and improve child well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Protection and Social Inequality)
Open AccessArticle Outing the Elephants: Exploring a New Paradigm for Child Protection Social Work
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(7), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7070105
Received: 9 April 2018 / Revised: 4 June 2018 / Accepted: 21 June 2018 / Published: 25 June 2018
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Abstract
This article sets out to trouble the psychologised and pathologising approach that has come to dominate child protection practice in Aotearoa-New Zealand and comparable societies. Within a neoliberal ideological frame, Governments deny the need to adjust markets, except in ways that remove protections
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This article sets out to trouble the psychologised and pathologising approach that has come to dominate child protection practice in Aotearoa-New Zealand and comparable societies. Within a neoliberal ideological frame, Governments deny the need to adjust markets, except in ways that remove protections from workers or specific vulnerable groups. In this context, social work is concerned with adjusting people to the discipline of the market. Within a risk-focused child protection paradigm, circumstances and behaviours associated with material deprivation are construed as indicators of heightened danger and harm to children as opposed to a means of better understanding family life. It is argued here that appreciation of how social inequality plays out in the lives of children and their families is critical to the development of more effective child protection social work. Poverty exacerbates the everyday struggle of parenting—it shames and disempowers, reducing confidence and perceptions of competence. With reference to contemporary Aotearoa-New Zealand, this article critiques current developments in child protection social work and outlines a new direction for development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Protection and Social Inequality)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Inequalities and Child Protection System Contact in Aotearoa New Zealand: Developing a Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(6), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7060089
Received: 24 April 2018 / Revised: 25 May 2018 / Accepted: 25 May 2018 / Published: 1 June 2018
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Abstract
There is a growing movement to integrate conceptual tools from the health inequalities field into research that examines the relationship between inequalities and chances of child protection system contact. This article outlines the key concepts of an inequalities perspective, and discusses how these
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There is a growing movement to integrate conceptual tools from the health inequalities field into research that examines the relationship between inequalities and chances of child protection system contact. This article outlines the key concepts of an inequalities perspective, and discusses how these apply to inequalities in child protection in the Aotearoa New Zealand context. Drawing on existing research, this article shows that while there is evidence of links between deprivation, ethnicity, location and system contact, a more systematic research agenda shaped by an inequalities perspective would contribute to understanding more fully the social determinants of contact with the child protection system. An inequalities perspective provides balance to the current ‘social investment’ policy approach that targets individuals and families for service provision, with little attention to how structural inequalities impact on system contact. Directions for research are discussed, with some specific questions suggested. These include questions relating to the relationships between social inequalities and various decision points in the child protection system; if a social gradient exists and how steep it is; the inter-relationship between ethnicity, deprivation and patterns of system contact; and how similarly deprived children in different locations compare with each other in relation to child protection system contact, that is, is there an ‘inverse intervention law’ operating? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Protection and Social Inequality)
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