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The shame and shaming of parents in the child protection process: findings from a case study of an English child protection service

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Given that research identifies parental experiences of shame and humiliation in the child protection process, this article reports on a qualitative study that investigated how and why parents experienced such emotions within the English system. This is the first study to investigate such experiences by using participant observation, which enabled the collection of data of real-time emotional experiences and practices. These experiences are analysed within the context of wider reforms of the English child protection system, and identify not only the structural and systemic reasons that embed parental experiences of shame into the process, but also the societal processes that support practitioners to shame, and even humiliate, parents. These processes are detailed and the shaming of parents illustrated. Rather than such experiences being seen as outcomes of poor practice, social workers can be considered to be doing a good job at the same time as shaming a parent.
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Keywords: case study; discourse; emotions; ethnography; experience; parents; poverty; qualitative; resistance

Affiliations: University of Birmingham, UK

Appeared or available online: May 30, 2019

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