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När man misstänker att barn far illa: En studie av hur professionella inom BVC, förskola och skola förhåller sig till anmälningsplikten
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2012 (Swedish)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overarching aim of this report was to gain knowledge on how mandated reporters from different professional fields (staff in child health care, pre-school and school)  reason and act in case of child maltreatment suspicion of children 0-12. The principal research method was focus groups (n=3) in which participants were discussing themes in accordance with study objective. The groups were homogenous in terms of professional field affiliation and consisted of 8-9 participants in each group. The mode of analysis was qualitative. 

The main finding of the study is:


  • Mandated reporters from each professional field extensively regard preventive and supportive work with children living in adverse family conditions as an important objective of their own professional commission. The preventive and supportive role has often the objective to increase or maintain stability in brittle family relationships. In this work, parental relationship is often considered a key to accomplish this objective. The preventive and supportive roles vary somewhat between mandated reporters in the three professional fields, partly depending on their respective official mission and working methods.


  • In terms of factors relating to the organizational setting of mandated reporters, no consistent strategy to inform and support children who actually were referred to children protective services (CPS) was identified. Collaboration with CPS on children at risk was considered to be important, and the personal contact with a specific case manager seemed to be essential.  Experiences in this respect varied among all mandated profession from very positive to very negative. To increase reporting, several participants in the focus groups stressed the importance of incorporating information of mandated reporting in their respective professional education. Further, many emphasized the necessity of having competent and adequate support within the organization. During the focus groups, in became evident that guidelines (or their interpretations) varied and the results suggest that particularly guidelines on how to act in relation to severe abusive parental behavior may need some consideration.



  • Filing a referral to CPS is often considered as a substantial risk by mandated reporters in terms of improving the situation of the child. This conceived risk consists principally of jeopardizing the trust of parents. Several professionals had experiences of parents resigning or withdrawing their child from child health care, pre-school and school as a consequence of filing a referral.      


  •  Two different approaches to mandated reporting were evident in the professional fields. Some professionals were ‘formal’ in the sense that every suspicion of child maltreatment was referred, at least rhetorically.  In contrast, others had more of an ‘assessment’ approach, which may involve evaluations of the emergency of the case as well as contemplating expected benefits of CPS interventions. Further, the assessment approach also included considerations of ‘sticking to the child’ within the own professional domain and deliberating referrals to alternative service providers (e.g.  non-authorative service providers within personal social services).  Potential child welfare problems that were considered as particularly difficult to assess varied between the mandated professions (e.g. parents who did not show up in child health care; parents engaged in custodial conflicts in pre-school and truancy in school). Strategies to deal with such cases, however, were quite similar, i.e. trying to get a second opinion and trying to receive additional information about the situation of the child (e.g.  by increasing parental contacts).


The results of the study have been interpreted by concepts and perspectives in organizational theory. CPS, Child health care, pre-school and school may be considered as actors in an organizational field with a common objective to strengthen life ‘here and now’ and the development of children. In relation to such objectives, different notions of the mandated professions responsibility versus CPS responsibility – so called domain conflict – may occur. Our results suggest that such domain conflicts often are at hand, but the focus groups also displayed examples of what could be considered as integration between the logics of mandated reporters and CPS (e.g. by regularly inform parents of the mandated responsibility rather viewing reporting as a the last option). The quality of the collaboration with CPS seemed to be an important component for such an intertwining of the logics of CPS and the logics of mandated reporters.    

Abstract [en]

What to do if you have a suspicion of child abuse? What should social service workers and educators do if there is any suspicion that a child does not fare well? This Save the Children study is about how Child Welfare Service staff and pre-school and shool officials in Sweden are responding to their obligation to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. It is based on interviews made to professionals directly working with children who are mandated to inform the proper authorities if there is a reasonable suspicion that a child is being harmed by caregivers.This study was initiated within the framework of the larger project "Educate do not punish" coordinated between Save the Children in Italy, Romania, Lithuania and Sweden, aimed at protecting children from corporal punishment by supporting the inclusion of the explicit ban of corporal punishment in all settings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundbyberg, 2012. , 68 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79922OAI: diva2:551614
Available from: 2013-01-07 Created: 2012-09-11 Last updated: 2016-01-11Bibliographically approved

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