‘If you could change two things’: Social workers in schools talk about what could improve schools' responses to child abuse and neglect

Liz Beddoe, Irene de Haan, Eileen Joy

Abstract


INTRODUCTION: Given recent legislative changes to the child welfare system in Aotearoa New Zealand, it was deemed timely to examine the challenges faced by school-based social workers and other school professionals in responding to child abuse and neglect (CAN).

METHOD: A qualitative study of school professionals’ responses to CAN included 20 semistructured interviews with school-based social workers. The participants were asked to describe two things that, from their perspective, would improve schools’ responses to CAN. This article reports on this aspect of the study.

FINDINGS: Four main themes were identified in social workers’ responses: the necessity for improved training for teachers on CAN; better support for teachers; a more holistic approach to child wellbeing; and enhanced understanding of child welfare.

IMPLICATIONS: These findings pose challenges to both initial teacher education and crossagency child protection. School social workers use their relationship skills and knowledge to act as bridges between teacher education, school leaders, teachers and the Ministry for Children Oranga Tamariki and believe they can do more.


Keywords


social workers in schools; child abuse and neglect; child welfare

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol30iss1id420

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