Notifying Neglect: Child Protection as an Application of Bureaucratic Power against Marginalized Parents

James Rice and Hanna Björg Sigurjónsdóttir - Human Organization

The goal of this contribution is to bring to light some systemic applications of organizational power that occur within the child protection system in Iceland. The specific focus is on the ways in which notifications are made to the child protection system concerning allegations of parental neglect on the part of parents with disabilities and a criticism of some specific mechanisms by which these notifications may contribute to unjust custody deprivation proceedings. We suggest that accusations of bias or prejudice within the child protection system need to be grounded upon the demonstration of concrete mechanisms which illustrate this bias in practice. In this contribution, we chose to focus on the power of notifications and to explore the institutional logic and practices that can result in unjust custody deprivation decisions. A critical analysis of the knowledge production of custody deprivation is required to fully understand these process as systematic applications of power and to recognize the problematic nature of child protection work that weighs heavily against marginalized parents.