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The characteristics and extent of child abuse: findings from a study of the Swedish Social Services child protection
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2017 (English)In: European Journal of Social Work, ISSN 1369-1457, E-ISSN 1468-2664, Vol. 20, no 2, 231-241 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper addresses child abuse and the Social Services protection andbuilds upon a study of verdicts concerning § 2 Care of Young PersonsAct (CYPA). The aim was to explore the extent of, and whatcharacterised, the violence the children were being subjected to. Acentral finding was that of all the applications of § 2 CYPA during oneyear concerning 196 children, 13–18 years, 70% concerned childrenreported as subjected to violence. The violence was in most casesdescribed as severe and systematically exerted over many years withintimidating tactics of power and control. More girls than boys were inquestion for care because of violence. Girls were also to a greater extentreported as having been subjected to sexual abuse or coercive controlof their sexuality in relation to standards regarding honour and virginity.In an international perspective the findings can be said to confirm theneed to analyse such factors as gender, power and control whenresearch and interventions concerns children abused by their parents. Ina Swedish context the findings can be said to suggest that the § 2 CYPAis a crucial intervention to protect children from violence.

Abstract [sv]

Den här artikeln synliggör föräldrar och andra närståendes våld och socialtjänstens skydd av barn. Artikeln bygger på en studie av domar som rör ansökningar om vård enligt 2 § lag (1990:52) med särskilda bestämmelser om vård av unga. Syftet var att undersöka omfång av våldsutsatthet och vad som karaktäriserade våldet. Ett centralt resultat var att av alla ansökningar om vård enligt 2 § LVU under ett år som rörde 196 barn, 13–18 år, beskrevs 70 procent som utsatta för våld. Våldet var i majoriteten av ärendena beskrivet som grovt och systematiskt med hög grad av hot, makt och kontroll och utövat under lång tid. Fler flickor än pojkar var aktuella för skydd på grund av våldsutsatthet. Flickor beskrevs också i högre grad som utsatta för sexuella övergrepp och tvång och kontroll kopplat till sexualitet som en följd av normer kring heder och oskuld. I ett internationellt perspektiv kan resultaten bekräfta vikten av att synliggöra faktorer som kön, makt och kontroll också i nom forskning och insatser som rör barn som utsätts för våld av föräldrar. I ett svenskt perspektiv kan resultaten visa på att 2 § LVU är en viktig insats för att skydda barn från våld.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 20, no 2, 231-241 p.
Keyword [en]
Child protection, child abuse, honour-based violence, compulsory care
Keyword [sv]
Barnskydd, barnmisshandel, hedersrelaterat våld, tvångsvård
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132631DOI: 10.1080/13691457.2016.1188774ISI: 000395162500008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-132631DiVA: diva2:953258
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Available from: 2016-08-17 Created: 2016-08-17 Last updated: 2017-08-31Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Child protection through an abuse-focused lens: Adolescent victimization and Swedish social services responses
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Child protection through an abuse-focused lens: Adolescent victimization and Swedish social services responses
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Knowledge concerning the social services’ use of the Care of Young Persons (Special Provisions) Act 1990:52 (CYPA) is relatively scarce, especially when it comes to the protection of adolescents victimized by abuse. The overall aim of this thesis is to investigate and discuss different conceptualisations of abuse, adolescents’ agency regarding abuse, victimization and social intervention, and how abuse and adolescent victimization are responded to, primarily by the social services. This is done from a stance influenced by critical realism as well as victim- and child-centred responses. The dissertation consists of four papers and examines these themes in two samples of judgments and related documents concerning applications for care of adolescents aged 13-17 under the CYPA. The findings from the total study of all judgments in the selected year clearly confirm § 2 CYPA as a rare intervention to protect adolescents. In only 85 of Sweden's 290 municipalities was a CYPA application made, but a main finding is that such care to a large extent was used to protect adolescents from various forms of abuse. In the total study, the applications of § 2 CYPA concerned 196 adolescents, for 70 per cent of whom abuse was described, and where more girls (96) than boys (41) were being considered for care based on abuse. Of all the girls, 79 per cent were described as subjected to abuse and of the boys 55 per cent. Also in the smaller sample consisting of judgments for 37 girls in care under § 2 CYPA and §§ 2 and 3 CYPA, abuse was described for many. For several adolescents in both samples abuse was described as having been exerted to maintain standards of honour, shame and virginity, and/ or to enable a forced marriage. The initiative and agency of the adolescents themselves in both the disclosure of abuse as well as the decision on alternative care is one of the most striking findings in the thesis. The majority of the adolescents, 71 per cent, were categorized as having intentionally disclosed the abuse. The aftermath of the disclosure was for many of the adolescents described as intensely challenging. For the majority the abuse was denied during the investigation, not only by the alleged abusers but also by non-abusing parents and other relatives. The findings relating to the social services responses suggest that the initial response to a high degree could be understood as parent-oriented. For 33 per cent, the judgment also revealed that the abuse had been disclosed to authorities one or several times prior to the investigation leading to the application for care under the CYPA. That the abuse in these cases had been known to the social services for on average 5 years can from a child-centred position be seen as a major failure regarding the system’s ability to reach children and stop abuse. A central conclusion is that the various forms of abuse described seem more connected to domination, fear, power and control than to conflict; to some extent mirroring the kind of systematic oppression described for victimized adults seeking the protection of NGOs and public authorities. The findings imply that interventions under the CYPA may enable more child-centred, safe and stable protection of children subjected to this kind of abuse. Given the findings in the present thesis it is argued that it may be important to differentiate the concept of abuse as well as to acknowledge the agency of children in both research and in practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Social Work, Stockholm University, 2017
Series
Stockholm studies in social work, ISSN 0281-2851 ; 36
Keyword
child abuse, adolescent victimization, child protection, honour-related violence, compulsory care, disclosure
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-146550 (URN)978-91-7649-903-0 (ISBN)978-91-7649-904-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-10-13, Aula Svea, Socialhögskolan, Sveavägen 160, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-09-20 Created: 2017-08-31 Last updated: 2017-09-20Bibliographically approved

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