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‘Where do you draw the line?’: A study about how South African social workers understand their professional role when working with caregivers who use child corporal punishment.
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Social Work.
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Social Work.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
‘Var drar du gränsen?’ : En studie om hur sydafrikanska socialarbetare förstår sin professionella roll i arbetet med vårdnadshavare som använder barnaga. (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Globally, there is an ongoing debate whether child corporal punishment should be banned or not in the home environment. While several countries have banned it already, South Africa is currently in a process of change. Research indicates that child corporal punishment is commonly used in South Africa and that social workers opinions on child corporal punishment seems to be formed by their personal experiences, which affects their assessments. Furthermore, according to research legal reforms are not enough to change a society’s attitudes and norms about child corporal punishment. There is a need of campaigns and leadership.

The aim of this study was to comprehend how eight South African social workers described that they understood their professional role, when they worked with caregivers who used child corporal punishment. The informants worked, at the time of the interviews, at different workplaces in Cape Town and had experiences in their professional role of meeting caregivers who used child corporal punishment. Social constructionism was used as the theory of science. The study uses theories by Burr, Gergen and Gergen and Foucault to analyse the impacts of language and discourse in the social workers’ understandings.

The empirical material was analysed with qualitative content analysis. We found four themes where all except the first one, are divided into two sub-themes. The first theme is ‘How could corporal punishment be defined?’. Followed by ‘Opinions about corporal punishment’ with the sub-themes: ‘We need one standard to protect our children’ and ‘Corporal punishment should be allowed if it is not abusive’. ‘The roles of the social worker’ is the third theme, divided into the two sub-themes: ‘Social workers and the law’ and ‘The opportunity to make a change’. The last theme is Challenges the social worker face, divided into the sub-themes ‘Corporal punishment rooted in a violent society’ and ‘Corporal punishment in a cultural society’.

The results of the study indicate that most of the social workers understood their role, when they worked with caregivers who use child corporal punishment, was to educate by presenting other alternatives than corporal punishment. However, when exploring definitions, opinions, challenges and abilities they sometimes had quite different understandings to one another. Child corporal punishment would be defined both as equivalent as well as separated from abuse, creating confusion to where a line should be drawn. The caregivers’ rights to use corporal punishment would be compared to the children’s rights to be protected from it. Laws regarding child corporal punishment was both present and nonexistent in described assessments. The social workers action space varied greatly. They expressed the need to balance different aspects in the assessment and decide where to draw the line between them. Most of the informants, understood themselves as powerful to bring about change concerning the use of child corporal punishment in the specific families. However, they highlighted the challenges with South Africa’s history and general accepting of child corporal punishment.

Abstract [sv]

Det pågår globalt en debatt om barnaga ska förbjudas i hemmen eller inte. Ett flertal länder har förbjudit barnaga och Sydafrika befinner sig för tillfället i en förändringsprocess. Forskning tyder på att barnaga är vanligt förekommande i Sydafrika och att socialarbetares åsikter om barnaga tycks ha sitt ursprung i deras egna erfarenheter, som i sin tur påverkar deras professionella bedömningar. Forskning visar även att juridiska reformer inte är tillräckligt för att förändra ett samhälles attityder och normer. Det finns ett behov av kampanjer och ledarskap.

Syftet med denna studie var att förstå hur åtta sydafrikanska socialarbetare beskrev att de förstod sin professionella roll när de arbetade med vårdnadshavare som använde sig av barnaga. Informanterna arbetade när intervjuerna genomfördes på olika arbetsplatser i Kapstaden och hade erfarenhet i deras professionella roll av att träffa vårdnadshavare som använda sig av barnaga. Studien utgår från socialkonstuktionism som vetenskapsteori. I studien används även teorier från Burr, Gregen och Gregen samt Foucault för att analysera språket och diskursers påverkan i socialarbetarnas förståelser.

Det empiriska materialet analyserades med kvalitativ innehållsanalys. Vi fann fyra teman där de tre senare hade två underteman vardera. Det första temat är ‘How could corporal punishment be defined?’. Följt av ‘Opinions about corporal punishment’ med underteman: ‘We need one standard to protect our children’ och ‘Corporal punishment should be allowed if it is not abusive’. ‘The roles of the social worker’ är det tredje temat, uppdelat i de två underteman: ‘Social workers and the law’ och ‘The opportunity to make a change’. Det sista temat är ‘Challenges the social worker face’ som delades in i underteman ‘Corporal punishment rooted in a violent society’ och ‘Corporal punishment in a cultural society’.

Studiens resultat indikerar att de flesta socialarbetarna förstod sin roll i arbetet med vårdnadshavare som använde sig av barnaga, var att utbilda genom att presentera andra alternativ än barnaga. Gällande definitioner, åsikter, utmaningar och förmågor så hade de ofta olika förståelser. Barnaga definierades både som motsvarande såväl som separat från misshandel, vilket skapade förvirring gällande var gränsen borde dras däremellan. Vårdnadshavarnas rätt att använda barnaga ställdes i kontrast mot barnens rätt att bli skyddade från det. Lagar gällande barnaga var både närvarande och frånvarande I de olika svaren informanterna gav. Socialarbetarnas handlingsutrymme hade stor variation och de uttryckte hur de behövde balansera olika aspekter i mötet med vårdnadshavarna och var gränser skulle dras mellan dem. De flesta informanterna upplevde sin roll som maktfull att skapa förändring i familjerna de mötte där barnaga användes. Trots detta betonade dem utmaningarna med Sydafrikas historia och generella acceptans av barnaga.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 71
Keywords [en]
Corporal punishment, defence of reasonable chastisement, social constructionism, social work, South Africa
Keywords [sv]
Barnaga, försvar för rimlig tuktan, socialkonstruktionism, socialt arbete, Sydafrika
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-153241OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-153241DiVA, id: diva2:1268093
Subject / course
Science in Social Work
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-12-06 Created: 2018-12-04 Last updated: 2018-12-06Bibliographically approved

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