Managing violence, aggression and conflict in social work
This thesis examines the causes and effects of violence against social workers. In particular, it addresses issues of conflict arising from certain social workers' roles, and the nature, extent and effects of aggression and violence against social workers in both probation and child protection work. The management of these issues is also examined in depth. The thesis contains critical reviews of the literature available at the time of the preparation of the publications, which drew out key issues for theory, policy and practice. It also contains three empirical research reports, which utilized a mixture of qualitative and quantitative approaches. The first piece of research was undertaken within a probation service, and the last two pieces were carried out with child protection social workers and managers in a large social services department. The work highlights the importance of incorporating the experiences and views of social workers and managers concerning the management of aggression and violence from service users within their agencies' policy development. The issues addressed within the research reports include the effectiveness of support available for staff and managers, and how policy and practice relate to the dilemmas and problems raised for workers and managers dealing with threats within what can be ambiguous roles, particularly within child protection work. The work within the thesis addresses how policies and practice relate to the protection of children when parent service users display violence and aggression. It analyses the place of risk assessment both in relation to threats to workers and in the potentially negative effects on the protection of the child(ren) and others involved. The possible effects on the protection of children as a result of such threats, particularly within the Developing Violent Scenarios identified within the thesis, are also explored. The work incorporates possible ways of dealing with those clients who present aggressive and violent behaviour, within a consideration of how issues of power, control and gender affect the nature and effects of threats to workers. On the basis of original research and analysis of the relevant literature, the work offers a model of how issues of under-reporting, effects on victimized staff, and support for staff individually might most effectively be incorporated into the development of agency policies and risk assessment procedures to reduce risk to both children and staff.