Exploring risk and resilience as experienced by designated social workers in the Western Cape
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Child abuse is a known phenomenon reported around the globe, and social workers in the child protection sector are at the forefront of protecting children subjected to the different types of abuse. Child protection social workers (CPSWs) work in hostile working conditions which may hamper service delivery to these children although some CPSWs are resilient. Limited research on the topic of CPSW risk and resilience is available, especially in South Africa (SA). This study is two-fold. First a scoping review which included 32 empirical and peer reviewed articles focused on CPSW risk was conducted and found that risks for CPSWs mostly related to factors on an institutional and community level (unsupportive work spaces, detrimental workplace duties and work pressure) but also on a intrapersonal level (high levels of stress, cynicism, and disengaged coping; being ill prepared for CPSW, and having a personal history of maltreatment). In the scoping review most of the studies included participants from first world countries such as the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom. Only four studies were conducted in South Africa. In order to honour diversity and context, more exploratory research is needed in South Africa, therefore the second part of this study explored the experiences of risk and resilience of ten South African designated social workers (South African DSWs) in the Western Cape through semi-structured interviews. Findings from these interviews revealed their adversity to be informed mostly by factors on an institutional level (for example, inadequate resources). Other reported risk factors were embedded on a community (for example, few placement options) and individual level (for example, challenging clients). Findings and recommendations for both studies contribute to the global knowledge base and to the continuous dialogue about risk and resilience of CPSWs.
- Health Sciences