Child Protection Workers
Child Protection Workers
The perception of Child protection workers of the role of mothers in causing abuse and neglect can either reinforce or reduce the mother blaming phenomenon (Peled and Levin-Rotberg, 2013). In many cases, mothers are held responsible for neglect and abuse problems that face their children. For example, in sexual abuse cases, mother may be accused of inadequately protecting their children from perpetrators of child abuse. In neglect cases, mothers are sometimes blamed for pushing away the male partners and for being unable to attend to the needs of their children (Caplan, 2012). Unfortunately, mothers are not given much credit for the mothering work which is hard and entailing. Mother blaming leads to a feeling of guilt and bitterness among mothers who may feel that they have. Fortunately, child protection workers have an opportunity to reduce mother blaming in their practice.
A Child protection worker can reduce mother blaming by practicing some of these recommendations. First, the child protection worker should avoid emphasizing the mother-child interaction and instead focus on the parent-child interaction (Caplan, 2012). The possible role of the father and other caretaker’s must be taken into consideration in abuse and neglect cases. The child protection worker should also emphasize on the possible negative impact of the father’s absence. Secondly, the child protection worker must take into consideration the child own development and innate characteristics. Some children are more difficult to handle and sometimes the mother is forced to set firmer limits. These limits are sometimes interpreted as strictness and abuse. Finally, the child protection worker must stop classifying the responsibility of child rearing as solely the responsibility of the mother (Caplan, 2012). Other persons who are involved in child rearing must be considered when things go wrong.
Certain characteristics of the child, caregiver and their environment are associated to their vulnerability to child abuse and neglect. One of the factors that is present in Dashon’s case is his young age. At 2 ½ years old Dashon is at a higher risk of child abuse and neglect than other children (Connolly, Crichton-Hill and Ward, 2006). Other risk factors that increase Dashon’s vulnerability to neglect and child abuse include being raised by a single parent, and being raised by a parent who lacks support from her extended family. Dashon’s biological father has refused to be involved in his care, while Letshia has cut all links with her extended family. Thirdly, the lack of income to meet the family’s needs is also a factor that increases the likelihood of neglect and abuse. In addition, Letshia bears the psychological characteristics of patients who are likely to abuse their children. According to Connolly, Crichton-Hill and Ward (2006), parents who are likely to abuse their parents have mental health problems, low self-esteem and have poor control over their impulses. Although Letshia does not exhibit antisocial behavior; a factor that is associated with high likelihood of neglect and child abuse, she lacks a strong social support network. Research shows that child abuse and neglect rates are higher in communities where there are high rates of poverty, and fewer and weaker support networks to protect children from abuse. Letshia’s neighborhood lacks a strong social network that can help Letshia overcome her drug problem, and be able to take care of Dashon without the risk of abuse and neglect.
Cultural sensitivity refers to the ability to work effectively among people from diverse cultural, ethnic, economic, political and religious backgrounds. A culturally aware social media practitioner respects and is aware of the beliefs, values, customs, traditions, and diverse parenting styles of his social work clients (Kaur, 2009). He is also aware of how his/her own culture impacts how they view others and understand their motivation and responses.
Cultural sensitivity enables social workers to avoid hurting the feelings of diverse clients through culturally insensitive communication (Kaur, 2009). Cultural sensitivity means the social worker is able to control and change his own false stereotypes, beliefs and assumptions about other people. By realizing their own thinking is not the only way, culturally sensitive social workers avoid offending diverse clients.
Cultural sensitivity also helps to reduce the perception of discrimination among minority groups. Racial minority groups such as indigenous Australians expect negative evaluation when dealing with public systems they interact with (Kaur, 2009). They have already been used to the discrimination and misunderstanding of their culture. Thus, social workers have an important role in reducing this perception of discrimination.
Cultural sensitivity also improves communication between the social worker and the client. The increased communication can increase the social worker’s ability to diagnose the social underpinnings of a client’s condition (Kaur, 2009). For example, the social worker can discover the dietary needs of a client through culturally sensitive communication between the social worker and the client. By making communication more effective, cultural sensitivity allows cultural diverse clients to receive adequate and effective care from social services.
According to Forrester et al (2007), communication is an important aspect of social work that has not been given enough attention.Unfortunately, the social work proffession has undertaken little research as regard the effective ways of communicating with social work clients. Only three studies between 1985 and 2010 explored the effectiveness of communication by child care practioners while communication with parents. Forrester et al (2007) found that social workers communicate poorly with parents and other care givers. The author argued that social work should focus on imparting effective communication skills among practioners. Forrestor et al (2007) condemned the lack of attention to observing and improving communication between social workers and clients. Social workers must have critical social work communication skills, and be aware of their impact on interviews and outcomes for clients. The authors argued that social work curriculums must assist practitioners develop and maintain effective communication skills. They also asserted that social work curriculums must include adequate content, and tests of students’ social work communication skills. Forrester et al (2007) point out that few countries have made progress in imparting effective communication skills among social work practitioners.
I would reccomend several practices to ensure that social workers are more effective communicators when dealing with parents. First, Social workers must consider and be aware of how their body langauge is perceived by clients. For example, social worker must take a proffessional approach to how they dress. According to Trevithick (2011), how a social worker is dressed communicates a symbolic meaning to client according to their context, age, class and culture. Secondly, social workers must focus on developing observation skills to complement their understanding of the spoken word in interviews with clients. According to Trevithick (2011), understanding clients’ non-verbal communication enable social worker to understand what is actually happening and why clients are responding in a certain way. Social worker can learn a lot by simply observing the tone of voice, volume and intonation, gestures and postures. Thirdly, social workers must develop culturally sensitive communication skills to enable them to effectively deal with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. In many cases, social work involves dealing with people from minority racial groups who come from diverse cultural backgrounds from the practitioners.
Social exclusion is the main concern in Wasim’s case. According to the case study, Wasim’s parent do not want their son to mix with other kids in the neighborhood. This means that Wasim is socially excluded and his poor speech development may be a result of this social exclusion. According to Ridge (2004), the influences in the child’s environment both inside and outside the home greatly influence the child’s development. Scott, Knapp, Henderson and Maughan (2001) argues that children who are social exclude experience many development challenges both in early childhood and adult life. Social exclusion leads to many problems including poor acquisition of basic education skills such as numeracy and literacy, dropping out of school, early labour market entry, trouble finding employment, alcohol abuse, problems getting jobs, lack of engagement in political and social functions and alcohol abuse.
Unfortunately, social exclusion has started early in Wasim’s life and it my affect him for the rest of life. The outcomes of social exclusion and mutually reinforcing and the cognitive underdevelopment Wasim is experiencing my hold him back educationally for the rest of his life (Ridge, 2004). It is the role of the social worker in the case to educate Wasim’s parents on the importance of allowing their son to interact with other in society. The social worker can support this conclusion by presenting evidence on studies on social exclusion that are collected from study cohorts selected in 1946, 1958 and 1970 (Ridge, 2004). By illustrating the detriment of excluding their child from society, the social worker can be able to convince Wasim’s parents to let their son mix with other children.
The social worker may ask several questions to gather information that can be used in assisting the family overcome their problem:
Why do you prevent you child from mixing with others in the community?
Do you know that social exclusion negatively impacts your child’s growth?
What kind of neighborhood do you think you would fit in better?
Caplan, P.J.(2012). The Myth of Women’s Masochism: With a New Preface by the Author. iUniverse.
Connolly,M., Crichton-Hill, Y., & Ward, T. (2006). Culture and child protection: Reflexive responses. Jessica Kingsley, London.
Kaur, J. (2009). Developing ‘culturallysensitive’ practice when working with CALD communities in child protection-An Australian exploratory study. Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal, (23), 22.
Peled, E. & Levin-Rotberg, T.(2013). The perceptions of child protection officers toward mothering in prostitution. Social Service Review 87(1), 40-69. DOI: 10.1086/670233.
Ridge, T. (2004). Childhood poverty and social exclusion. Children, Youth and Environments, 14(2).
Scott, S., Knapp, M., Henderson, J., &Maughan, B. (2001). Financial cost of social exclusion: follow up study of antisocial children into adulthood. Bmj, 323(7306), 191.
Trevithick, P. (2011). Social Work Skills and Knowledge: A Practice Handbook. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).