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Social services provided for physically abused children in Sweden: Background factors and interventions
Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
2004 (English)In: International Journal of Social Welfare, ISSN 1369-6866, Vol. 13, no 4, 340-349 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study aims at describing and analysing what kinds of social services are provided for physically abused children in Sweden. The social services files were examined for 113 children under 15 years of age (67 boys and 46 girls) who had been reported to the police as having been physically abused by a parent or equivalent caretaker in a particular police district. The children's social services files indicated an increased risk of a parental abusive behaviour prior to the abuse incident. There had been former interventions in 81 per cent of the families and previous reports on neglect or abuse in 44 per cent of the 113 families. After the abuse incident, investigations were opened in 80 per cent of the cases. The three most common interventions were placement in foster care, referrals to Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Service and Social Services support contacts. The study shows that there was a tendency towards more proactive work with injured children, children of immigrant parents and children of mentally ill parents.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 13, no 4, 340-349 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-22800DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2004.00330.xLocal ID: 2134OAI: diva2:243113
Available from: 2009-10-07 Created: 2009-10-07 Last updated: 2011-01-12
In thesis
1. Child physical abuse: Reports and interventions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Child physical abuse: Reports and interventions
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis was begun in 1998 at a time when increased numbers of police reports regarding child physical abuse was presented. The increase had been overshadowed by the research on the sexual abuse of children and showed that child physical abuse in Sweden had only been scarcely investigated since the institution of the Swedish anti spanking law in 1979.

The aim of this thesis was to investigate child physical abuse from a judicial, social, child- and adolescent psychiatric and a user perspective where a parent or equivalent was the perpetrator. One police district was investigated between 1986 and 1996 and all reports regarding child physical abuse were included. The abused children (n=126) were also followed through social services’ files and child and adolescent psychiatric service charts from birth to a 4-year follow up from the abuse incident studied. Finally, mothers of the physically abused children were interviewed.

The greatest increase in police reports during the years investigated, turned out to be concerned with violence between children. The incidence where a carer was the abuser proved to be comparable to the incidence in other Nordic countries, with the adjustment that first generation immigrants were found to abuse their children 8 times as often as native Swedish citizens and second generation immigrants. There were a wide variety of injuries inflicted on the children, where bruises were the most common. Only a few cases where injuries could be verified ended up in court. Social services contact was common among the abused children and their families prior to the abuse incident studied, as were previous reports on child abuse and neglect. Injuries from the abuse as well as familial and context characteristics had an impact on referred social services interventions. The two most important factors for a child still to be receiving social services interventions 4 years after the abuse incident were whether the mother was mentally ill and whether there had been reports on child abuse or neglect prior to the studied abuse incident. About half of the children had been receiving interventions from the mental health services at some point in time, but mainly due to other reasons than physical abuse. Mental health treatment for the physically abused children was rare even though many of the children had contact with the child and adolescent psychiatric services repeatedly before, at and after the abuse incident. The interviewed mothers conveyed a picture of satisfaction with the police’s work but were mainly critical towards the social services. The mental health service was considered to be doing a good job, but needed to do even better.

The results indicate that despite an environment that supports public values, attitudes and laws confirming a standpoint against violence towards children, there is still a gap between intentions and reality in Sweden. The thesis provides one way of looking at child physical abuse, but puts forward the urgent need of further studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2005. 82 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 879
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-28708 (URN)13875 (Local ID)91-7373-858-1 (ISBN)13875 (Archive number)13875 (OAI)
Public defence
2005-07-21, Aulan, Hälsans hus, Campus Norrköpng, Linköpings universitet, Norrköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
2005Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2010-12-30

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Lindell, Charlotta
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