Dominant Research on Child Neglect and Dialogic Practices: when the Voice of Families is Translated or Ignored

Vicky Lafantaisie, Jean-Charles St-Louis, Annie Bérubé, Tristan Milot & Carl Lacharité - Child Indicators Research


Reflecting upon research on child neglect, this article focuses on the importance (or lack thereof) given to the views of families in neglect situation within this field. Based on an analysis of recent studies in the field of neglect, it aims to document how mainstream research excludes the experiences and points of view of parents and children. We pursue two objectives: 1) to describe mainstream research practices by identifying the theoretical and methodological traits that underlie the production of knowledge; 2) to explore the gap between the knowledge produced by traditional research and the experience of parents. To meet these goals, we used an approach inspired by institutional ethnography (Smith 2005) to analyze how neglect is treated in scientific discourse. The article thus highlights different characteristics of this discourse, which can be seen as an “individualizing” reading of the problem. The dominant framework leads to a normalizing\standardizing approach based on the evaluation and correction of behaviors deemed “inappropriate”. We then contrast the attributes of mainstream research with the speeches of parents who have participated in a neglect intervention program. By showing some blind spots of mainstream research practices, our analysis wishes to carry further the reflection on the ways knowledge production may better reflect the perspectives of marginalized people.

This article is part of the special issue of the Child Indicators Research journal, focused on child neglect.