Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Outing the Elephants: Exploring a New Paradigm for Child Protection Social Work

Version 1 : Received: 9 April 2018 / Approved: 10 April 2018 / Online: 10 April 2018 (08:21:26 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Hyslop, I.; Keddell, E. Outing the Elephants: Exploring a New Paradigm for Child Protection Social Work. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 105. Hyslop, I.; Keddell, E. Outing the Elephants: Exploring a New Paradigm for Child Protection Social Work. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 105.

Journal reference: Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 105
DOI: 10.3390/socsci7070105

Abstract

This article sets out to deconstruct and challenge the psychologised and pathologising approach that has come to dominate child protection practice in Aotearoa-New Zealand and comparable societies in neoliberal times. Within a risk and protection focused paradigm circumstances and behaviours associated with material deprivation are construed as indicators of heightened danger and harm as opposed to a means of better understanding family life. In this way, although poverty may be classified as an issue that is worthy of attention in the realm of broader economic and social policy, structural inequality is rendered largely irrelevant to the practice of statutory child protection. This article sets out to trouble this construction. It will be argued that understandings of how the effects of material inequality are played out in the lives of children and their families are critical to the development of more effective child protection social work. This ‘life-world’ is generally populated by young women parenting in poverty. Poverty exacerbates the everyday struggle of parenting - it shames and dis-empowers; reducing confidence and perceptions of competence (Gupta, 2015). A paradigm shift is needed. Child protection policy and practice needs to re-engage with the every-day struggles that accompany the lives of socially marginalised families in increasingly stratified late capitalist society. The future of social work in child protection depends on it.

Subject Areas

child protection; poverty; inequality; neoliberalism; new paradigm

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