Child abuse, social anxiety and welfare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This article attempts to locate the 'moral panic' concerning child abuse within the context of broader changes in the material conditions and ideological forces in Britain in the early 1970s. It argues that the development of a sense of social anxiety amongst certain sections of the population and the appeal of the New Right were crucial in the process of establishing the problem as the major issue for social workers. As a consequence social workers have been constrained into a more punitive and interventive relationship with children and families, particularly the poor. The analysis illustrates that the way social workers experience role conflict and tension in this area of their work reflects much wider historical and cultural confusions and contradictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-414
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1981


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