Risk and protective factors among child protection social workers: a quantitative study

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Social work literature includes many publications on risks, dangers and protective factors of children and families who are involved with child protection services. Less is known about risk and protective factors of social workers who work in the complex child protection system to address others’ suffering, wishes, needs and hopes. Starting from a brief literature review, this article presents the findings of quantitative research conducted in the Italian child welfare context. Positive and negative factors that support and affect child protection practices emerged from a survey that was conducted through the collaboration of 300 child protection social workers. Their opinions show issues that shouldn’t be neglected. Child protection social workers identified the mission to help families as a non-protective action for themselves. Protective factors among social workers concerned the intrinsic value of the profession and peer-to-peer support and mutual actions within the team. Main risk factors concerned the high workload and the sense of perceived danger for their own life. The findings of this study could inform social work managers, educators and practitioners with the intent to support child protection social workers so that they can manage professional troubles more effectively and avoid the paradoxical risk of forgetting their own wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Child protection social workers
  • Professional wellbeing
  • Quantitative research
  • Risk and protective factors


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