Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Literature Update

LITERATURE OVERVIEW: See our list of recently published articles of interest.
How articles are selected

  • An overview of articles is collected based on TOC alerts from journals by the publishers: Taylor & Francis, Sage Publications, Cambridge University Press, Oxford Academic.
  • The short list is selected based on an assessment of the articles theoretical, methodological and/or empirical relevance to the projects at the Centre.
  • Please note that the list of articles is not based on a qualitative assessment of the articles scientific contributions or level.
  • Questions: Barbara Ruiken

ILLUSTRATION: Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism / MGalloway, Wikimedia Commons


Hallett, N., Garstang, J., & Taylor, J. (2021): Kinship Care and Child Protection in High-Income Countries: A Scoping Review

Kinship care is a global phenomenon with a long history, which in high-income countries (HICs) at least, is being increasingly formalized through legislation and policy. There are many benefits to kinship care, including improved child mental health and well-being when compared to other types of out-of-home care. Despite this, kinship care is not without its risks with a lack of support and training for kinship carers putting children at an increased risk of abuse and neglect. This scoping review was conducted across 11 databases to explore the breadth and depth of the literature about abuse and neglect within kinship care in HICs and to provide initial indications about the relationship between kinship care and abuse. Of the 2,308 studies initially identified, 26 met the inclusion criteria. A majority of studies were from the United States, and most used case review methods. From the included studies, rates of re-abuse, and particularly rates of physical and sexual abuse, appear to be lower in kinship care settings when compared to other out-of-home care settings, but rates of neglect are often higher. This review has demonstrated that a small but significant number of children living in kinship care experience neglect or abuse.


Hovland & Hean (2021) The quality and developmental pathways in sibling relationships.

Siblings are key actors in the social network of young people in care. This paper explores young people’s perceptions of changes in the quality of sibling relationships and the pathways relationships follow during the transition from the biological family into care. A thematic analysis of interviews with young Norwegian people (n = 25) in care showed that, in the biological family, sibling relationships are characterized by alliances, parentification, conflicts or nonexistence. After admission to child welfare services care, sibling relationships developed along multiple pathways. Their sibling relationships reshaped into either close and supportive, conflictual or completely broken relationships. Sibling relationships were dynamic, complex, with the pathway, and its impact on well-being, being unique to each young person. Sibling relationship quality in the biological home did not predict relationship quality after admission to child welfare services. The implications for social worker practice are discussed.

Baum (2021) Preventing Harm to Vulnerable Older Adults

This article presents the results from a qualitative study that explored how legislation in British Columbia, intended to protect vulnerable adults from harm, is implemented in practice. The legislation contains guiding principles that require the least restrictive and minimally intrusive form of support or intervention be used and that the adult’s wishes be respected. Sixteen professionals who work as elder abuse responders in British Columba participated in this study through interviews and a focus group. Fifteen of the study participants were social workers. Grounded theory method was used, and themes were identified. The first theme reveals that responders prefer to obtain older adult consent to service provider involvement, rather than forcing compliance by using statutory authority. The second theme reveals that responders may not be able to intervene in a minimally intrusive manner because of resource shortages and organizational structural issues. These findings have human rights and social justice implications.


Molander & Torsvik (2021): In Their Own Best Interest. Is There a Paternalistic Case for Welfare Conditionality?

This paper examines paternalism as a justification for welfare reforms making benefits conditional on participation in activation programs. We
clarify different types of what we denote ‘throffer paternalism’ – a paternalism conjoining an offer with a threat – and ask whether there is a good case for any of them. We argue that hard but non-perfectionistic paternalism provides the most promising defense for mandatory activation but conclude that it does not give a convincing justification for this type of welfare policy.

Przeperski (2021): Social Work Paradigms and Their Effect on Decision Making About Out-of-Home Placement

This research aimed to understand the views of social workers on factors influencing decision making toward child placement and any possible differences in perception of these factors among social workers with experience in placement decision making and those without it. The Q sort methodology was used to analyze the opinions of 64 social workers by presenting them54 statements on single sheets and asked to rank them on a grid. Analysis showed five distinct paradigms: family-centered; veiled shared concept; child-centered; paternalistic; and professional evidence-based, which influence the entire process and outcomes of the decision making process. Both groups (those with experience in decisions towards placement and those without such experience) believed in family centeredness. Workers without prior experience of deciding to place children, regarded highly the role of workers in the decision-making process. They highlighted the need for data to guide decisions and the responsibility of workers to protect the child’s welfare. Workers with prior experience focused mostly on generalized concepts and highlighted a detachment of the social worker from the decisions made. They attributed responsibility for decisions to the wider environment. Reflecting on the paradigms within which decisions concerning child welfare are made is essential to improving on the decision-making processes and has implications for both research and practice.

Falch‐Eriksen, Toros, Sindi & Lehtme: (2021): Children expressing their views in child protection case work: Current research and their rights going forward.

Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides children with the right to express their views in matters that affect them, particularly those of an administrative and judicial nature. This paper examines the academic discourse in child protection research concerning how Article 12 of the CRC is implemented and how it is manifested in child protection service (CPS) casework practices. The systematic review was performed following the principles of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‐Analyses (PRISMA) statement and included 16
peer‐reviewed articles published in English in academic journals from multiple scientific databases from January 2009 to January 2019 reporting primary research with children about their experiences of participation in CPS. Despite the widespread ratification of the CRC several decades ago, the studies in the current review establish a clear and predictable pattern of an inability of children to express themselves throughout CPS proceedings. Findings consistently indicate that children in different countries felt they were not being asked, listened to or heard, in some cases even regarding harmful and unsafe situations. We argue the academic discourse must move beyond these findings and discuss how research can contribute to dealing with these obstacles and improving practices by focusing on
Article 12 in particular and human rights in general throughout CPS practices.


Navne & Jakobsen: Child Abandonment and Anonymous Surrendering of Babies: Experiences in Ten High-income Countries

In 2017 the Danish Parliament considered introducing baby hatches in Denmark and asked the authors to investigate the extent and causes of child abandonment and various practices and services in relation to prevention of child abandonment in Denmark and other high-income countries. We conducted a literature study and interviewed experts from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Austria, the UK, and the US. In addition, this article presents original data on child abandonment in Denmark based on a media search and information from police and adoption reports from 2008 to 2018 generated for this specific study. Our study confirms that while child abandonment is a rare event, it still occurs in all countries included in this study. Existing data suggest that the mothers of abandoned children constitute a heterogeneous group; representing a wide span with regard to sociodemographic characteristics and mental health states. The data collected on child abandonment in Denmark show that abandoned infants were most likely delivered outside the hospital without health professional assistance, and a significant risk factor for women abandoning their infant appears to be concealed pregnancy. Addressing the problem of child abandonment, public authorities or private organizations provides measures that make it possible for parents to anonymously surrender babies in 6 of the 10 countries included in the study (Germany, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Austria, and the US). Such measures include baby hatches, safe havens, foundling rooms and anonymous births. The remaining four countries included in the study (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the UK) offer neither baby hatches nor anonymous births. We find no evidence that baby hatches or other measures offering anonymous surrendering of babies save lives. Rather, it seems that they increase the incidence of child abandonment.

Rodriguez et al: The Perfect Storm: Hidden Risk of Child Maltreatment During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic upended the country, with enormous economic and social shifts. Given the increased contact from families living in virtual confinement coupled with massive economic disarray, the Covid-19 pandemic may have created the ideal conditions to witness a rise in children’s experience of abuse and neglect. Yet such a rise will be difficult to calculate given the drop in official mechanisms to track its incidence. The current investigation utilized two studies conducted early in the pandemic to evaluate maltreatment risk. In the first cross-sectional study, parents (n ¼ 405) reported increased physical and verbal conflict and neglect which were associated with their perceived stress and loneliness. In the second study, parents (n ¼ 106) enrolled in a longitudinal study reported increased parent-child conflict, which was associated with concurrent child abuse risk, with several links to employment loss, food insecurity, and loneliness; findings also demonstrated increases in abuse risk and psychological aggression relative to pre-pandemic levels. Findings are discussed in the context of a reactive welfare system rather than a proactive public-health oriented approach to child maltreatment, connecting with families through multiple avenues. Innovative approaches will be needed to reach children faced with maltreatment to gauge its scope and impact in the pandemic’s aftermath.

Smales et al: “Surviving not thriving”: experiences of health among young people with a lived experience in out-of-home care

Children in care (CiC) experience poorer health outcomes than their sameaged peers without an experience of care. Despite growing recognition of the importance of listening to the voices of children and young people (YP), to date, the voices of CiC are not well represented in research examining their health. This study aimed to explore the experiences and perceptions of health among YP who have previously lived in care. A co-design approach was used to inform the research methodology by engaging YP with a lived experience in cooperative discussions. Ten YP participated in one-on-one semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. The current findings highlight that YP consistently felt their health needs were not adequately met while in care, nor did they feel listened to, understood, or educated about health-related matters. This unique insight into the challenges they experienced in care offers realistic guidance for change.

Toros: Children’s Participation in Decision Making From Child Welfare Workers’ Perspectives: A Systematic Review

This article explores child welfare workers’ experiences of children’s participation in decision making in the child protection system. The systematic review follows the principles of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement and includes 12 peer-reviewed articles published in academic journals from 2009 to 2019. Findings indicate that children’s participation in decision making is generally limited or nonexistent. The age of the child is an important determining factor concerning whether the child is given the opportunity to participate in decision making. Potential harm for children that may result from participation is considered when deciding on whether to include a child in the decision-making process.

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