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A Qualitative study into understandings of child abuse

Bourne, Ellie (2011) A Qualitative study into understandings of child abuse. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)


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The term ‘child abuse’ is undoubtedly recognised throughout society, however the definition behind child abuse does not appear to be universally acknowledged. Both lay people and professionals have struggled to attach a solid and universally acceptable definition to the term, which leaves the obvious question as to what child abuse is and how it is understood within society. This study attempted to explore child abuse from a social constructive perspective to identify and analyse prominent themes surrounding child abuse in current society. Ten semi structured interviews were conducted and analysed using thematic discourse analysis, from which three significant themes were identified. These significant themes surrounded shifting boundaries of responsibility, the media as a position of power and the abnormality and pathological implications associated with child abuse. These findings were concurrent with previous literature into both child abuse and the social construction of identity. This has therefore shed more light into the somewhat clouded construct of child abuse. The implications provided from this study centre upon how these themes could be deconstructed on a societal level, such as media campaigns to draw public attention to misconceptions. However, it is acknowledged that deeper, more detailed discourse analysis must first be considered before strong implications could be taken from the study and this may be seen as the starting point for future research.

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