"It's Like Piecing Together Small Pieces of a Puzzle". Difficulties in Reporting Abuse and Neglect of Disabled Children to the Social Services

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


According to Swedish law, the Child and Youth Habilitation Services are obliged to report abuse and neglect of disabled children to the Social Services. Only a small proportion of all children who are suspected of being victims of abuse or neglect are however reported to the Social Services. The aim of this study is to discuss why some cases of abuse and neglect of disabled children are considered difficult to report by the Child and Youth Habilitation Services. The qualitative data were collected during individual and natural group interviews with fourteen members of the staff of a regional division of this authority. The study shows that reporting was seen as a “last resort”, and was used only when all other remedies had been exhausted. The main obstacles to reporting were to be found in the perceived closeness between staff members and the disabled children’s families. Other obstacles to reporting were habilitation ideals, cultural ideas about the family, a lack of evidence of abuse and neglect, and uncertainty about the children’s future after reporting. Factors that facilitated reporting were visible proof of abuse and neglect, and the disabled children’s ability to communicate. Furthermore, certain criminal acts against the children were seen as more reprehensible than others and thus easier to report.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • qualitative, last resort, Habilitation Services, disability, children, abuse and neglect, child maltreatment, report, sexual abuse, Social Services, sociology, sociologi
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-62
JournalJournal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

Total downloads

No data available