Barnets bästa i skuggan av föräldrarnas missbruk
Sammanfattning: The aim of this study was to examine how social workers within the social services in Sweden worked with and defined the child rights principle “the Best Interests of the Child”, which derives from Article 3 of the UN Convention on the “Rights of the Child”. The study is limited to only examining social workers that have been working with children of parents with substance abuse issues. More specifically our aim has been to find out how the social workers define and determine “the Best Interests of the Child” and which knowledge they based their definition on. We also wanted to find out if cooperation within the social services had any impact on the social worker’s definition. The study was based on material from six interviews with social workers working in three municipalities in southern Sweden. Five themes were identified that seemed to be important in the analysis of the best interest of the child: the social workers’ different definitions of “the best interest of the child”, the child’s opportunity to participate and be heard, a focus on the child being forgotten, BBIC – a tool which social workers in the social services use to document during the investigation of a child – and cooperation within the units of the social services. The empirical material was analyzed from three theoretical perspectives: Lipsky’s theory about street-level bureaucrats, Skau’s and Danermark’s theoretical discussions about power and authority in social work. Overall, the results indicated that the social workers had significantly different definitions in determining “the Best Interests of the Child”. The social workers had difficulties to phrase and express what the concrete meaning of “the Best Interests of the Child” is, even though they often referred to the principle during the interviews. The definitions are often based on experience, which means that there may be some discrepancy in the assessment of the child. When it comes to collaboration within the social services the respondents describe that the unit, where the parents have a contact or treatment, lacks a perspective on the child’s situation.
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