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Child Welfare’s Decision-making Process in Cases of Disciplinary Violence

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
Author: Anna Heinonen1
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Disciplinary violence against children is banned by law in Finland. According to the Finnish Criminal Code, acts of disciplinary violence are judged as assault. However, previous research has shown that authorities often find it difficult to identify cases of disciplinary violence and to intervene in them. The objective of this article is to examine the decision-making process in child welfare in suspected cases of disciplinary violence. The reasoning and arguments of social workers on which they based their decisions were analysed. Also, the measures taken were analysed, specifically whether a request for criminal investigation had been made to the police. The analysis was based on child welfare documents of one Finnish municipality from the year 2011. It was found that the decision-making process of social workers followed three pathways, resulting in two-thirds of the cases not leading to a request for criminal investigation to the police.

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