Addressing concerns about child maltreatment in schools: A brief research report on social work involvement in reporting processes
Keywords:social workers in schools, child abuse and neglect, child welfare
INTRODUCTION: School-based social workers (SWiS) in Aotearoa New Zealand work alongside teachers and principals to improve child wellbeing. The SWiS experience in addressing concerns about possible child abuse and neglect (CAN) is under-researched.
METHOD: In the first phase of the project, the authors undertook semi-structured interviews with 20 SWiS to explore their experiences of how school professionals addressed CAN.
FINDINGS: Some considerable variation in making formal notifications of concerns to the statutory agency was found. In some schools SWiS made all the notifications, in others none, and in some schools the process was variable. Stigma associated with child abuse was reported as a factor in attitudes towards reporting. School-based social workers reported the need for better education and policy to guide schools to address CAN.
IMPLICATIONS: More joint education is needed to ensure a common knowledge base and better interprofessional work. There is potential for SWiS to support this work if better resourced.
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