A small-scale study of the relationship between measures of deprivation and child-care referrals

Karen Winter, Paul Connolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


There now exists an extensive literature on the causes of child abuse. Within the UK, individualistic and inter-personal approaches have predominated in terms of their influence on social work theory, research and practice. However, much less emphasis has been given to structuralist explanations. Indeed, of the structuralist work that currently exists with its emphasis on the relationship between deprivation and child abuse, this relationship has yet to be empirically tested within the UK. This is the focus for the present article. Drawing upon data relating to all referrals made to a short-term intake family and child-care team for a three-year period in Northern Ireland (1998–2000), the article confirms the strong relationship that exists, at ward level, between measures of deprivation and referrals to the team. In discussing the implications of the findings, it is argued that more use needs to be made of quantitative methods in social work research in order to identify and understand more fully the influence of structural factors on issues relating to family and childcare. The article concludes with a consideration of the implications of the findings for further research and for social work practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937-952
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Volume35 (6)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Aug 2005


  • Child abuse
  • Structuralist explanations
  • Quantitative methods


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