Christiesgt. 17

The Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism addresses core themes in the social sciences by examining the government’s use of power towards its citizens, and the justifications of state interventions into people’s lives.

Same case, different decisions

Findings show great variation in professional discretionary decision-making in England, Finland, California (US) and Norway. Presented with an identical case scenario, social workers varied in their assessment of risk and suggested treatment, both within and between countries. Variations like these lead us to question whether children are given equal access to protection and whether the rule of law is maintained in cases involving children.

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Great deal of confidence in the child protection system

Despite the scrutiny and often harsh critique of child protection services in the media, this study show that the populations in England, Finland, Norway and the US have a great deal of trust both in the child protection system and the judges that make the decisions in child protection cases.

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Proceedings for child protection removals vary considerably across countries

Through the child protection system, the state can assume parental responsibility or terminate all parental rights when parents are unable or unwilling to perform their parental obligations. The requirements to due process and just proceedings are strict. Interestingly, analysis of proceedings on child protection removals in eight countries show considerable variation in the proceedings and the professional background of the decision makers.

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Research network

Westen Norway University of Applied Sciences
Centre for Law and Social Transformation