Children and Violence - a Childhood Sociological Perspective

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 00:00
Oral Presentation
Lars ALBERTH, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
Doris BUEHLER-NIEDERBERGER, University of Wuppertal, Germany
Childood Sociology’s main concern are childhood as a life phase, children as a social group in their own right, and ultimately the well-being of children. In contrast, child protection aims at the best interest of the child, rendering childhood as a state of preparation and child abuse and neglect as respective threats – this is the common approach of the law, whereas child protection practice performs further constrictions by addressing the mothers as housewives and homemakers. Instead of just bearing the mark of familialism, as it is often argued, child protection centers predominantly on a traditional female gender role, complemented by the professionals via beneficial and controlling strategies of “taking the mother by the hand” and “gaining the mother’s trust”. These two institutional steps protect violence against children against its full recognition and processing: the legal codification is dedicated to the reproduction of the generational order of society, while the professional approach is oriented towards a routine-based and frictionless operation in accordance with the law.

The social recognition of violence against children is located outside of its professional processing: cases of reporting by kindergarten teachers or neighbors are filtered and regularly invalidated by professional interventions. Unrightfully, as studies show. However, this is not an argument against professional child protection system, but for its fundamental reshaping and a legal foundation that aims for the voice and state of the child to be heard. The presentation is based on an interview-study with professionals of Germany’s child protection system, complemented by a comprehensive comparative analysis of child protection legislation in several countries.