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Title: The impact of violence and abuse on child protection workers
Author: Wilkins, Lisa F. M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 7918
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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According to the Department of Health (2000) social workers are eight times more likely than any other professional to be attacked at work. Research suggests that there is underreporting of violence and a passive approach to risk management by employers. In the last thirty years only seven studies examining violence towards child protection workers have been published. There is a danger then that old figures, statistics and research findings, dating back to the 1980s, are still being used to represent everyday practice, years after the research was conducted. This study presents a current analysis of the personal and professional impact of violence and abuse in practice. Therefore, the key objective is to offer an original and contemporary analysis of the form, frequency, experience, affect and management of violence and abuse perpetrated against child protection workers. The study examined the problem form a variety of theoretical perspectives, however it utilises concepts developed by Ulrich Beck in the 'risk society' to theoretically underpin the thesis. To gather both a statistical and qualitative set of findings a mixed method approach was employed. Seventy-one social workers from two local authorities based in England took part in the study. The policies from each council were analysed to provide a contextual framework to the empirical findings. An online questionnaire encompassing the four central aims of the thesis was sent to a sample group of one hundred and thirty child protection workers. The questionnaire was then used to filter participants who had experienced violence for the semistructured interviews, providing a sample group of twenty-six child protection workers. The findings demonstrate that violence and abuse are accepted as part of the job by child protection staff, management and the organisation. Interview data found that certain child protection tasks often carry greater risks than others. Workers reported that they had 'no faith' in current policy and procedure, describing them as fundamentally ineffective. In turn, workers admitted to withdrawing services or changing their decisions as a reaction to violent or abusive episodes. The majority of staff stated that they would not report verbal or physical abuse. Overall, it was concluded that the impact of violence and abuse towards child protection workers has three key contributory factors: the worker, the team and the organisation. Each factor in some way contributes to the assessment, prevention, production and management of violence and abuse in practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available