Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Sheila Sammon




Research on child welfare practice, where children have witnessed violence against their mothers has identified paradoxical outcomes: victimized mothers who require the most help are often blamed, pathologized, and labeled as 'bad'. These women are ultimately responsible for the physical, emotional, mental, and environmental welfare of their children, whereas the male perpetrators remain practically unnoticed. Despite the fact that violence can occur within any relationship where there are imbalances of power, this. research study only focused on heterosexual couples in which violence has occurred against women.
The objective of this qualitative study was to investigate how child protection workers define violence against women and perceive/define intervention plans. I also explored differences in definitions and perceptions between experienced and non-experienced child protection workers, as it was assumed that child protection workers are not 'experts' in women abuse. It was also assumed that child protection workers lacked specific interpersonal violence training, which often contributed to the re-victimization of women. Nine child protection workers, who work for a Children's Aid Society within the Hamilton area, were interviewed about violence against women and child neglect issues. The participants varied in levels of education, experience in child protection and experience in social work. An analysis of the findings led to the emergence of five themes: (1) the belief that it is the mothers job to protect her children; (2) mothers can simply leave; (3) mothers needs are a separate issue from children's needs; (4) deficits in staff training; and(5) moral and ethical dilemmas in working with mothers who were victims of interpersonal violence. Recommendations for anti-oppressive social work practice within the context of child welfare are made, and implications-for future research are discussed.

McMaster University Library

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