UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social workers' perceptions of child abuse and neglect Blakely, Samuel Elgin


This research project concerns itself primarily with the social worker and his perceptions of child neglect and abuse. It is based on the premise that a meaningful study of neglect and abuse on a wider scale should be preceded by studies seeking to arrive at a more accurate definition of the problem. A comprehensive review of the literature focused on the stage which identifies the problem and the initial referral of neglect and abuse to a protective unit or agency. This review is found in chapter two and covers the areas of definitions, referral information, agency working relationships, family functioning of neglectful or abusive families, classifications of neglect and abuse, incidence and prevalence of the same, and worker decision making that results in a referral becoming a protective case. After reviewing each of these areas a critique was written. A measuring instrument was developed, drawing from prior studies done by Billingsley and Young, in the form of a questionnaire to test social workers' perception of neglect and abuse. A pretest was given to one hundred and thirty-two social workers in the Child Welfare field throughout the province of British Columbia. Respondents from fourteen offices in the Department of Social Welfare - all in different geographical locations, as well as the Vancouver Children's Aid Society, answered the questionnaire. Thus the data was obtained from a wide cross section of social workers presently working in the field of Child Welfare. The main hypothesis of the study, that there are differences in workers' perception of neglect and abuse was found to be valid. This research project did prove to be fruitful in making a start in obtaining data that gives clues as to how workers in the field do perceive neglect and abuse. It could also act as a stimulus for further research projects using some of the data from the questionnaires that was not included in this study and moving on to new research projects which focus on one aspect of the present study and examine it in more depth.

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