Research Output

"It's Just the Abuse that Needs to Stop": Professional Framing of Sibling Relationships in a Grounded Theory Study of Social Worker Decision Making Following Sibling Sexual Behavior

  Sibling abuse is a global problem, arguably the most prevalent form of family violence, and as harmful as other familial abuse. There is evidence internationally that sibling abuse often goes unrecognized or is minimized by professionals from education, health and social care. The responses of social workers are of particular interest as key decision makers in child welfare, yet research has focused on concerns about parental abuse rather than risks presented by children within a family. This paper presents findings from research examining social worker decision-making in cases involving sibling sexual behavior. Interviews were conducted across six Scottish local authorities with twenty-one social workers having responsibility for such cases. Forty-five hours of in-depth interviews regarding 21 families and 54 children involved in sibling sexual behavior were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using constructivist grounded theory. The study found that social workers frame sibling relationships as non-abusive and of intrinsic value, and when faced with contradictory evidence engage in a number of mechanisms to maintain this frame. This paper makes a significant contribution to the sociology of siblinghood and provides an explanation that is more profound than existing theories for the internationally recognized problem of the marginalization of sibling abuse.

  • Type:

    Article

  • Date:

    18 December 2019

  • Publication Status:

    Published

  • DOI:

    10.1080/10538712.2019.1692399

  • Cross Ref:

    10.1080/10538712.2019.1692399

  • ISSN:

    1053-8712

  • Library of Congress:

    HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    360 Social problems & social services

  • Funders:

    Economic and Social Research Council

Citation

Yates, P. (2019). "It's Just the Abuse that Needs to Stop": Professional Framing of Sibling Relationships in a Grounded Theory Study of Social Worker Decision Making Following Sibling Sexual Behavior. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 29(2), https://doi.org/10.1080/10538712.2019.1692399

Authors

Keywords

Sibling abuse, Sibling incest, Harmful sexual behavior, Inappropriate sexual behavior, Child sexual abuse, Sibling relationships, Decision making, Constructivist grounded theory

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