Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

How children become invisible in child protection work: findings from research into day to day social work practice

Ferguson, Harry

Authors

Harry Ferguson



Abstract

It is well known that in cases in which abused children have died, social workers and other professionals did not relate to them effectively—the phenomenon now known as the ‘invisible child’. Much less well understood is how often and why such invisibility occurs where there has not been a major inquiry or scandal and this paper draws on research which observed day-to-day encounters between social workers, children and families. In most of the practice, children were seen and related to but, in a small number of home visits, social workers were not child-focused. The paper provides a detailed analysis of those cases and shows how social workers were overcome by the emotional intensity of the work and complex interactions with angry, resistant parents and family friends. Workers were also affected by organisational culture, time limits on their work and insufficient support to enable them to contain their feelings and think clearly. The powerful impact of unbearable levels of complexity and anxiety on social workers requires much greater recognition. Sociological, psycho-dynamic and systemic theories are drawn upon to establish how workers need to be helped to think clearly about children and relate to them in the close, intimate ways that are required to keep them safe.

Citation

Ferguson, H. (in press). How children become invisible in child protection work: findings from research into day to day social work practice. British Journal of Social Work, https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcw065

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 26, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 26, 2016
Journal British Journal of Social Work
Print ISSN 0045-3102
Electronic ISSN 1468-263X
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcw065
Keywords Child protection; social work practice; psychosocial theory; ethnographic research; child abuse deaths; home visits; emotion
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/34291
Publisher URL http://bjsw.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/08/31/bjsw.bcw065
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

Files


Br J Soc Work-2016-Ferguson-bjsw-bcw065.pdf (136 Kb)
PDF

Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0





You might also like



Downloadable Citations