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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

'In the Loop: A systemic approach to re-thinking the child protection system'

Kearney, Jeremy (2013) 'In the Loop: A systemic approach to re-thinking the child protection system'. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 16 (3). pp. 7-19.

Item Type: Article


The question of how to protect children from non-accidental harm has dominated child welfare discourse in England since the death of Maria Colwell in 1973. For over 40 years, the history of child care policy and in particular, child protection policy has been the history of the policymakers' responses to particular tragedies and scandals. The Munro Review of Child Protection (2011) is the most recent attempt to introduce major changes into the child protection system. This paper focuses on two particular aspects of the Review. Firstly, it examines how it constructs the meaning of 'child protection', as this is not clearly defined by the review. Secondly, the use of systems theory as the analytical framework is examined and some limitations of its focus on the organisational level of context are discussed. It is suggested that these two issues are interrelated and act to limit the possibilities of fundamental change in the child protection system. Drawing on the work of communication theorist, Gregory Bateson, and conceptual and practical developments within the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) approach, it is argued that social workers are required to operate simultaneously within multiple, and often incompatible, contexts. For radical change to take place in the child protection system, the utopian bias that the system should prevent all non-accidental deaths needs to be abandoned.

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Depositing User: Jeremy Kearney


Item ID: 4091
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Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2013 10:19
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 08:52


Author: Jeremy Kearney


Social Sciences > Sociology

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