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UBC Theses and Dissertations

“We don’t look at the non-custodial father as being a possibility or option” : working towards a better understanding of how fathers are conceived in child protection Staton, James Arthur


This study examines what concepts about men’s behaviours child protection workers use when working with non-residential and non-custodial fathers. It is a qualitative study informed by Grounded Theory. Ten participants who were all child protection workers were presented with a scenario about a father who was seeking to have his children returned to his care and then asked to describe the decisions they would make in determining the father’s request. The data from the interviews were analysed using constant comparison analysis and produced three theoretical constructs relating to the participants’ concepts of men’s behaviours: the conceptual roots of men’s behaviours; the dichotomy of paternal behaviour; and accepting and excepting men’s behaviours in child protection. The findings indicated that the participants felt that their concepts and understanding of men’s behaviours as fathers came from their own experiences with their fathers and the cultural and societal norms with which they grew up. They believed that men are capable of being good parents and they are an important part of the family but there were some behaviours of men that concerned them. When it came to working with men in child protection, most participants stated that they make every effort to involve fathers and do consider them as a possible resource. There is a belief that fathers are capable of looking after their children but, as single fathers, they may need to be monitored and provided with supports. Demonstrating willingness to parent, some positive parenting skills and a willingness to be cooperative were considered acceptable behaviours. Behaviours that were considered exceptable were: a recent and extensive criminal history; extreme aggression; secrecy; and sexual abuse. However, with all these behaviours, there was a willingness to continue to work with the father to keep him involved in some capacity.

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