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Signs of child maltreatment: The extent and nature of referrals to Swedish child welfare agencies
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Responsible organisation
2006 (English)In: European Journal of Social Work, ISSN 1369-1457, E-ISSN 1468-2664, Vol. 9, no 1, 39-58 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article addresses an area of Swedish child welfare work that has not previously been researched, i.e. the prevalence and nature of referrals to Swedish child welfare agencies. Four issues are addressed in the article: (1) the number of referrals to Swedish child welfare agencies; (2) case workers’ workload; (3) report sources; and (4) conditions reported.

The main findings are the following. The majority of referrals concern adolescents, which indicates that addressing youth problems—such as delinquency—is a substantial part of Swedish child welfare work. In the younger age group, it seems that the referral rate in Sweden occupies a medium position in an international context. The level of personnel resources designated to process these referrals is remarkable high, indicating that the Swedish child welfare system operates differently from the system in, for example, the USA. Mandated reporters submit the majority of the referrals, which holds particularly for the adolescent group. Despite relatively high referral rates in Sweden, reported conditions are markedly vague and rarely concern the abuse and neglect dimension. Results are discussed with particular attention to the Swedish child welfare context and the concept of child maltreatment.

Abstract [sv]

Barnavårdsanmälningar i Sverige: omfattning, källor och problembilder

Föreliggande artikel behandlar ett svagt utforskat område inom svensk barnavård, nämligen omfattningen av och egenskaper hos anmälningar till socialtjänsten där barn misstänks fara illa. Fyra frågeställningar avhandlas: (1) anmälningsfrekvens; (2) socialarbetares arbetsbelastning; (3) vilka som anmäler, samt; (4) vilka typ av problem som anmäls.

Artikeln presenterar följande huvudsakliga resultat. För det första rör majoriteten av anmälningar ungdomar. Detta tyder på att tyngdpunkten för svensk barnavård skiljer sig markant från flera andra länder. För det andra befinner sig prevalensen av anmälningar rörande yngre barn i ett mellanskikt vid en internationell jämförelse. För det tredje förefaller svensk barnavård i ett internationellt perspektiv ha markant större personalresurser avdelade för arbetet med de inkomna anmälningarna. Detta tyder på att arbetssätten i svensk barnavård skiljer sig åt i jämförelse med till exempel USA. För det fjärde framkommer att majoriteten av anmälningarna görs av aktörer som omfattas av anmälningsplikt. För det femte är de förhållanden som anmäls—trots en relativt hög prevalens av anmälningar i Sverige—tämligen vaga och rör i låg utsträckning olika typer av misshandel samt vanvård. Resultaten diskuteras med särskilt tonvikt på såväl specifika egenskaper i svensk barnavård som det—i anglosaxisk forskning och praktik—centrala begreppet ‘child maltreatment’.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 9, no 1, 39-58 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-25349DOI: 10.1080/13691450500480615OAI: diva2:199551
Available from: 2006-02-01 Created: 2006-02-01 Last updated: 2013-07-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Den kommunala barnavården - om anmälningar, organisation och utfall
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Den kommunala barnavården - om anmälningar, organisation och utfall
2006 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis presents descriptions and analyses of the municipal-based work that precedes service provision in child welfare, i.e. referrals where concerns regarding children and adolescents are made from professionals and general public and the processing of these referrals within child welfare agencies. The central focus lies to examine the importance of organisational factors – such as formal structures, resources and working methods – in this work. The empirical material in studies 1-3 consists of data collected on location in 100 municipalities during 2001-2002 augmented with official statistics and register data. Data in study 4 consists of telephone interviews in the city of Stockholm’s 18 districts, written material and in-depth interviews in one of the districts.

Study 1 describes the extent and nature of referrals to child welfare agencies. The study shows that the extent of Swedish referrals occupies a medium position in an international perspective, that referrals mainly concern adolescents, and that child referrals to a comparatively little extent concern abuse and neglect.

Study 2 analyses the association between agency collaborative involvement with mandated reporters and referral rates. The association is overall marginal, indicating that merely the presence of collaboration in child welfare has poor effects on case finding.

Study 3 analyses the association between organisational factors and the provision of child welfare services. To some extent, the results suggest that personnel resources are linked to the extent of services provided to younger children. Specialisation in various forms, however, is not associated with variations in service provision.

Study 4 describes and analyses the impact of organisational solutions in line with New Public Management. The results indicate that this theoretical/ideological idea has limited practicality in concrete child welfare work.

An introductory section presents a comprehensive background to and the theoretical framework of the four studies. The theoretical framework consists principally of concepts and reasoning derived from new institutional theory. This framework is used to discuss results generated from the four studies. Specific attention is given to institutions and ideas in child welfare that have a ‘taken for granted’ status, such as early interventions, collaboration and the presumed appropriateness of a range of organisational settings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan, 2006. 59 p.
Rapport i socialt arbete, ISSN 0281-6288 ; 117
Child protection, child welfare, referrals, organisation, barnavård, anmälningar, organisation
National Category
Social Work
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-809 (URN)91-7155-177-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-02-24, Aula Svea, Socialhögskolan, Sveaplan, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2006-02-01 Created: 2006-02-01Bibliographically approved

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