Combatting Child Abuse: International Perspectives and Trends

By Neil Gilbert | Go to book overview

4
Sweden
Toward a Deresidualization of Swedish Child
Welfare Policy and Practice?

SVEN E. OLSSON HORT


A State that Snatches Children?

If one were to single out a country that in practice resembles the model welfare state, postwar Sweden would definitely be a contender. It has been said that this country of the Far North is the closest one comes to Richard Titmuss ( 1974) institutional model of social policy. Everybody is included under the universal social safety net. 1 Public spending on social protection, including child welfare, is thus substantial and usually is looked on as investment in human capital. The general disadvantages of this system are of course the problem of overconsumption and the necessity of high taxes to fund such fancy programs. The international competitiveness of Swedish trade products is supposed to have become weakened, although this belief is contradicted by many experts in the field. Furthermore, in the early 1990s high unemployment levels and increasing interest payments on a burgeoning public deficit have created macroeconomic distortions of a magnitude hitherto unknown. This aspect of Swedish welfare policy is not further discussed here.

However, there are other types of supposed deficiencies as well. The opposite of the institutional model is the residual model, a social policy model by which the state only cares for the poor. Such a system involves a high degree of social control as it is important to draw the line between the worthy and the unworthy poor and destitute. A residual social policy in highly developed countries can be seen as a descendant of the old relief system for the poor.

Despite what is generally regarded as the success of universal welfare policies -- material poverty has virtually been eliminated in Sweden -- there are still social policy areas for which the achievements are much more in doubt. These involve the screening of individuals, in particular children, for compulsory

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Combatting Child Abuse: International Perspectives and Trends
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Child Welfare ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Contributors xi
  • Introduction 3
  • References 5
  • I - Child Protective Orientation 7
  • 1 - United States California's Reporting System 9
  • References 34
  • 2 - Canada 67
  • 3 - England 72
  • Notes 97
  • II - Family Service Orientation -- Mandatory Reporting 103
  • 4 - Sweden Toward a Deresidualization of Swedish Child Welfare Policy and Practice? 105
  • 5 - Denmark 125
  • 6 - Finland 143
  • References 162
  • III - Family Service Orientation -- Nonmandatory Reporting 165
  • 7 - Belgium 167
  • References 187
  • 8 - The Netherlands 192
  • References 210
  • 9 - Germany 212
  • 10 - Conclusion 240
  • Author Index 241
  • Subject Index 247
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