What are the perspectives of children in child protection work among social workers in Norway and Chile?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJensen, I.B., (2020) What are the perspectives of children in child protection work among social workers in Norway and Chile? Children and Youth Services Review, 118 10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105410
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines universal standards for children’s welfare and position in society. Among other aspects, the convention advocates for a balance between seeing children as part of a family and as competent individuals in their own right. Nonetheless, countries have different conditions for meeting the rights outlined in the convention. This study explores social workers’ perspectives of children in child protection work in Norway and Chile. Q methodology was applied, as it is suitable for exploring and comparing perspectives. Thirty-eight social workers participated in the study (21 in Chile and 17 in Norway). Analysis revealed three distinct perspectives, with perspectives 1 and 2 predominately held by Chilean participants and perspective 3 by Norwegian participants. Perspectives 1 and 2 understand children through relational and structural lenses. Workers with these perspectives believe children’s needs are insufficiently met in family practices and at policy levels. Nevertheless, while perspective 1 tries to compensate for these inadequacies by giving children agency in local child protection work through child–social worker interactions, perspective 2 sees limited space for children’s agency in child protection work due to structural restraints. Perspective 3 sees children’s independence and believes children have agency in child protection work and family practices. Results are discussed in light of ideas regarding agency and child protection and welfare characteristics of Chile and Norway.