Societal and Political Pressure on Child Protection: The Perspective of Child Protection Professionals
Although goals of child protection policy are defined by law and the institutional implementation system is in place, the practical protection of the child is not sufficiently effective. Effective child protection is adversely affected by the so-called social (fear of children being subjected to violence) and institutional risk (high workload, excessive bureaucracy, etc.) that arise in the practical process of child protection. The purpose of this article is to investigate the experiences of the children's rights protection specialists (CRPS) during the process of the social risk management, and to characterise the context of social, political and mass media pressure on the CRPS, its impacts and solutions in the daily work of CRPS in Lithuania. Article is based on analysis data of 10 semi-structured qualitative interviews with children's rights protection specialist conducted in 2018 March-April. It has been established that controversial policy goals are being addressed in the field of child protection, which oblige CRPS to preserve a child's family and, at the same time, protect the child from domestic violence. In everyday practice, matching these goals poses many challenges. CRPS experiences a negative attitude from the public, mistrust of their work, the issue of their decisions, accusations and pressures through mass media and politicians who influence on a constant workload and stress. CRPS is confronted with extremely difficult situations in its work only rely on informal support from colleagues and individual strategies for coping with stress. Structured CRPS support tools are not implemented. As a result particularly in the context of public cases specialists remain single, accused and without support. Such work environment encourages employees to burn out, emotional overload, insensitivity, and other factors that reduce work efficiency. It is recommended to implement structural stress-strain strategies that would enable all kinds of support to specialists, help them more objectively look at situations and share decision-making responsibilities. It is very important to form socially responsible journalists, since the publication of negative and inaccurate news only undermines confidence of VTAS, undermines their professionalism, complicates the day-to-day work of child protection.