In the eyes of the beholder: Parental and professional value mismatch in child risk and protection in two communities in Israel

Yochay Nadan, Dorit Roer‐Strier, Netanel Gemara, Shelly Engdau‐Vanda, Dafna Tener
Published Online:
16 Jul 2018
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 53 Issue S2

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This paper aims to identify several of the mismatches at play when social workers encounter families belonging to diverse groups and assess risk, well‐being and protection for children. Two minority groups in Israel were studied: the Ultra‐Orthodox Jewish community and Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia. A context‐informed approach was adopted to explore the subjective perceptions and constructions of “risk,” “well‐being,” and “protection” among parents of the two communities (N = 60) and the social workers who work with them (N = 50). The social workers included some who belong to the minority groups they serve and others who are from the majority group. The analysis of the interviews yielded two main themes: (a) an understanding of the discrepancies in parents' and professionals' perceptions and constructions of “risk” and “protection” for children as the product of differences in the values, norms and contexts of these two groups; and (b) the implications of these discrepancies for the relationship between professionals/social service agencies and parents who are potential service users. Our findings call upon professionals to re‐visit “universals” in the “risk” discourse while taking into account the realms of culture, ethnicity, religiosity, spirituality and community life when assessing risk and treating children and families of minority communities.

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