Mellan rättslig reglering och professionell logik

 – att hantera orosanmälningar om våld i barnavården


  • Lina Ponnert Socialhögskolan Lunds universitet



child protection, referrals, violence, discretion, social worker, legal system


Between legal regulations and professional logic - dealing with reports of violence in child protection
This article analyses and discusses social workers’ perspectives on dealing with referrals concerning suspected violence and abuse in child protection within a legal setting guided by mandatory reports and mandatory child welfare investigations when children have been exposed to, or witnessed, violence in close relationships. The study is based on six group interviews with 15 social workers from six different municipalities of varying sizes. The analysis is based on professional theory and theories on discretion, with a focus on how social workers reason about their discretionary space and what strategies they use to cope with possible ethical and legal dilemmas in practice. Three main themes emerged in the analysis: social workers’ strategies within a limited discretionary space, unwarranted referrals, and a low threshold into social services but a high threshold for interventions. The study shows that most social workers consider themselves to have discretion to independently assess information on suspected violence in reports and to assess whether a child welfare investigation ought to be initiated or not. However, they also could feel a need to formally initiate a child investigation, and immediately close it after one meeting, as a strategy to correspond to legal demands. Social workers experienced a risk-oriented approach amongst other professionals, resulting in a mechanical approach to mandatory reporting, where referrals did not necessarily correspond to any actual concern for the child from the reporter. The social worker’s own possibilities to provide interventions was often perceived to be blocked if parents did not give their consent. The study shows and discusses how legal regulations urging professional action in vaguely defined situations must also provide necessary discretionary space for professional assessment to avoid, or cope with, ethical dilemmas related to the legal framework.


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Referera så här

Ponnert, L. (2023) ”Mellan rättslig reglering och professionell logik:  – att hantera orosanmälningar om våld i barnavården”, Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift, 30(1), s. 415–434. doi: 10.3384/SVT.2023.30.1.4463.