Posted in Articles Annotated, Featured

Parental experience of child protection intervention: a qualitative study

An Annotated Article: Dumbrill, G. C., Child Abuse and Neglect, 30 (2006) 27-37, Parental experience of child protection intervention: a qualitative study.

This article describes how the inherent imbalance of power between parents and child welfare caseworkers cannot be rectified. In this article, Dumbrill presents a conclusion from his study showing the equal distribution of power between parents and child welfare caseworkers may not be possible. Focusing on a group of 18 parents from both Ontario and British Columbia, the client respondents were from lower socio-economic families experiencing the full spectrum of mandated and voluntary child intervention types. Following a grounded data gathering process, Dumbrill mapped a decision making process where parents’ responses to child intervention caseworkers shows that based on fear, parents cannot fully embrace collaboration with caseworkers.

Parents understanding of caseworker’s use of power is a key concept to begin an intervention with a family. Checking parents’ assumptions of the power imbalance between parents and child intervention staff must be a starting point for caseworkers. Parents are filled with fear in their contacts with child intervention staff because judgements about family life are made without the parents’ voice being heard in the process. This is seen as power over the family, causing a fight response by parents. This key judgement issue without listening to parents’ voices establishes the belief in parents child intervention staff impose their opinions on families, creating a clear power imbalance.

Parents who perceive caseworkers to be exercising power with them described supportive activities that assisted them becoming collaborative with caseworkers reach their mutual goals. Activities such as advocacy with other organizations or structures to access resources and practical assistance of a temporary relief to stabilize the family clearly showed as sharing power with parents creating solutions to common goals. However, parents’ were clear despite their perceptions of their caseworkers were supportive they never really let go of the fear if their voice or actions turned, a supportive caseworker can easily turn against their plans to have their intervention end successfully. Parents’ perceptions to worker use of their power is viewed as a core factor in influencing parents either responding to power with conflict or to power with collaboration.

This article’s limitations are first, the sample was very small and may not successfully be transferred to larger populations without further study. Second, recent practice frameworks have not been reviewed in this same light which may shed more information regarding efforts to increase consumer acceptance of intervention planning, such as Signs of Safety and Child Intervention Practice Framework. As a social justice response, I believe the Distributive Justice model of Iris Marion Young (Young, 2005) validates Drumbill’s conclusion best. The five faces of oppression; exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence can each be applied to the child intervention engagement scenario to validate the fear parents experience during periods of intervention.

My question is, to resolve this ethical dilemma, in your opinion, are the Signs of Safety or the Child Intervention practice framework changes in our intervention practice sufficient to bring this power imbalance to a more equitable level, and if not, what legislation or policy changes would you suggest?

Reference: Young, Iris Marion (2005), “Five faces of oppression”, in Cudd, Ann E.; Andreasen, Robin O., Feminist theory: a philosophical anthology, Oxford, UK Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 91–104, ISBN 9781405116619

Posted in Articles Annotated, Ways of Knowing

The Western Structure of Knowledge

An Annotated Article: Grosfoguel, R. (2013). The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century. Human Architecture: Journal Of The Sociology Of Self-Knowledge11(1), 73-90. Retrieved from:

It is the position of this post that the western structure of knowledge centres on the impact of Rene Descartes’s writings in the early 1600’s. This is an article summary, see the article URL link below to review the article and it’s reference. This article discusses that the mid-17th century Cartesian “I think, therefore I am” (ego cogito) and the 150 years of “I conquer, therefor I am” (ego conquiro) is merged by the genocide/epistemicide of the “I exterminate, therefore I am” (ego extermino). The ‘I exterminate’ is the socio-historical structural mediation between the ‘I conquer’ and the ‘I think’: as in

“I conquer, therefore I am” leads to, “I exterminate, therefore I am” leads to “I think, and therefore I am like God”.

How Descartes Influenced Western Ways of Knowing:
Descartes ‘I think, therefor I am’, creates a separation between the mind and body; a dualism. It is universal in its knowing, like the God-Eye of post-Roman Christianity. The ‘I think, therefor I am’ learns certitude in truth by conducting an internal dialogue within oneself, to ask questions and come up with answers in an internal monologue with self. (Grosfoguel 76) The fact this internal monologue does not occur in a social relation with others is the initial beginning of the Western Ways of Knowing being detached from the environment of others, viewing them as inferior. Objectivity is interpreted to mean neutrality, whereas Subjectivity infers biased, invalid, irrelevant, unserious, that is, inferior knowledge. (Grosfoguel 76)

How Male European Elite Dominate Western Thought:
The Imperial Mind approach is based on 150 years of conquering and colonial expansion beginning in 1492. The segway between the “I Conquer, Therefore I Am” and the “I Think, Therefore I Am” required one more connector to link the two from “I am Master of All I See” to “I Am Like God”. That is what led to the extermination and genocide of non-Europeans and Women. It is this “I Exterminate, Therefore I Am” that is the causal link from an all-conquering male European elite to an all knowing God-like male European elite and the forefathers of our modern Western Ways of Knowing and Western Academic leadership.

Thus, modern Descartian male ego centered perspectives continue to dominate the Ways of Knowing, extinguishing as inferior any perspective outside the limited historical perspective of the racist/sexist Western Academic world view. (Grosfoguel 88).  Grosfoguel recommends breaking with the male european based epistemologies, as they are based on racist and sexist genocidal practices: that universal conformism is inherently corrupted due to its corrupted source.

This recommendation supports the breakdown of modern academic ways of knowing by embracing other world views and diversifying epistemological understandings of ways of knowing to include non-Europeans and Woman as having equal ways of knowing just as certain as others.