Perceptions of Violence within Child Protection Systems in Russia: Views of Children, Parents, and Social Workers

Veronika Odinokova, Maia Rusakova, Vladlena Avdeeva - Victim, Perpetrator, or What Else?


This is a study on perceptions of child abuse and interventions in cases of abuse in the Family and Childhood Support Centres in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It raises the following questions: what is the divergence between the level of abuse experienced by a child and that recognized by adults? What are the conditions for recognition of the child as a victim of abuse by social workers? What interventions will the family and the child receive when the child recognized as a victim? To answer these questions, we conducted qualitative interviews with children and parents along with the social workers supporting them. The study confirms that children face abuse much more often than is recognized by adults. The child is more likely to be recognized as a victim if the parent reported the abuse, the abuse led to physical injury, or if it happened in the family. The child may be recognized as a victim if the child’s entry point into the system is through runaway or delinquent behaviour. However, in these cases, the child would more likely be treated as deviant than victimized. The child is less likely to be recognized as a victim in cases of corporal punishment within the family or abuse outside of the family (i.e., school bullying). Intervention into a case of abuse is usually focused on the mother of the child and involves enhanced supervision and social control of both the mother and the child.