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Collaborating Against Child Abuse (Social Work book review)

Posted: October 19 2020

Student & staff projects, Social Work

Interested in Social Work and want to learn more about the subject? The book reviews written by our Social Work students and staff help you identify the best literature to advance your learning.

This week:

Review:

Barnahus as a model of practice is gradually being adopted in countries beyond the Nordic region, so there exists a timeliness in the publication of a book which comprehensively explores how it is defined and analyses the ways in which the model is evolving. The editors' aim is to bring together researchers in the field to provide a comprehensive research‐based critique which incorporates policy and practice.

The book itself is divided into four core sections: child friendliness, support and treatment; the forensic child investigative interview; children's rights perspectives; and interagency collaboration and professional autonomy. What is clear throughout is that this is a critical exploration of Barnahus as a practice model; the researchers do not shy away from reporting both the benefits and the difficulties encountered in delivery. Through identifying and discussing the challenges of implementing the model, the book provides a wealth of information for service commissioners and providers, as well as practitioners within a range of disciplines.

What stands out are the difficulties identified by Kari Stefansen (chapter 2) and Ann‐Margreth Olsson and Maria Kläfverud (chapter 3) in truly hearing and incorporating the voices, views and opinions of children into, what is by necessity, an adult‐designed and ‐controlled child protection framework. Trond Myklebust (chapter 5) helps to explore this further through reflecting on how children's testimonies are handled within Barnahus. By following these discussions with a section on children's rights, the editors keep the focus on the child within the judicial processes and begin to offer solutions.

The final section of the book addresses the complexities of achieving true collaboration within child protection, where the various professions involved have conflicting roles, values, foci and perspectives. Susanna Johansson's analysis of power dynamics (chapter 12) is a particularly insightful exploration, offering understanding of existing tensions in child protection.

"Addresses the complexities of achieving true collaboration within child protection"

The editors' epilogue sums up the challenges for policymakers, providers and practitioners in developing the Barnahus model in the future. This book should be essential reading for those involved in the provision of Barnahus and also for those aspiring to replicate the model in the future.

*****

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