TITLE

CHILD PROTECTION POLICY AND PRACTICE: A RELATIONSHIP LOST IN TRANSLATION

AUTHOR(S)
Hyslop, Ian
PUB. DATE
July 2008
SOURCE
Social Policy Journal of New Zealand;Jul2008, Issue 34, p62
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This article considers the challenges and opportunities facing contemporary child protection practice and contends that a meaningful understanding of child protection can best be gleaned by examining how practice is connected historically and sociologically with the broader discipline of social work. The essence of social work is described as a contradictory mix of surveillance and empowerment. The Victorian genesis of social work is linked to a distinction between the deserving and undeserving, yet also with a theme of redemption and liberation. It is suggested that the positioning of social workers as intermediaries between the comfortable and the threatening classes remains a salient feature in current practice. The relevance of the enduring phenomenon of a constructed underclass for child protection practice is explored. It is contended that anxiety associated with the breakdown of modernist certainties in the last 40 or 50 years has created an impetus to define and measure child protection in a mechanistic and risk-averse manner, and that the dominant instrumental form of social science misapprehends the nature of child protection as "practice". A paradigm conflict is described, whereby managerial policy frameworks fundamentally fail to accommodate the essence of social work. It is argued that the effective development of child protection practice requires that it be re-conceptualised as complex, creative and interactive as opposed to a two-dimensional process of procedural compliance. It is suggested that child protection practice must be reacquainted with the voice of practice wisdom -- contextualised in the same way that social work is itself a process of engagement with social context. Practitioners, educators and theorists are challenged to actively advocate for an accurate understanding of child protection as ambiguous and situated social practice.
ACCESSION #
41873648

 

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