Within the child protection system, social workers are often prompted to use their power in a productive (‘power-with’) rather than oppressive (‘power-over’) manner. This article aims to explore how social workers perceive their use of power when speaking with parents about child welfare concerns. The study was based on 20 in-depth interviews conducted with social work practitioners working in an Israeli child protection program. The findings point to the complexity of managing power within the extreme power imbalance of the child protection system. Workers described using three kinds of strategies when talking with parents about child welfare concerns: confrontational, dialogical, and avoidant. Yet the type of strategy utilized was not indicative of whether power was used with or over parents. Rather, the findings show how specific practices and skills used by workers and the rationales that informed them dictated whether power was used with parents or over them.
- Child protection
- Social work practice
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science