Seeing Eye to Eye? Perception of Risk and Protection of Social Workers and Parents Regarding Children of Ethiopian Origin

Shelly Engdau, Michal Gatenio-Kalush, Bat-Hen Karni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter highlights the complexity of risk and protection definitions by triangulating views of parents of Ethiopian decent and social workers who work with Ethiopian communities. A context-informed approach was adopted to explore the subjective perceptions and constructions of “risk,” “well-being,” and “protection” among parents (N = 50) of two groups: those who received services from the welfare system and mothers who were born in Ethiopia and educated in Israel (one-and-a-half generation). The social workers who participated in this study (N = 30) included practitioners who belong to the Ethiopian community they serve and others who are from the majority culture. The analysis of the interviews suggests that child abuse and neglect and protection of children should be regarded as a complex phenomenon including both the complexity of the definition of risk and protection and the complexity of the decisions that follow. Main sources of risk such as neighborhoods, schools and child rearing practices were also discussed as sources of protection. Both similarities and discrepancies between parents and social worker’s definitions were discussed, as well as generational change and the contribution and challenges these cause for social workers of Ethiopian decent. Our findings call upon professionals to re-examine their “risk” discourse, question their pre-conceived notions of who is “at risk,” and take into account the wider realms of culture, ethnicity, community, family life and childhood resiliency when assessing risk and in treating children and families from minority communities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContext-Informed Perspectives of Child Risk and Protection in Israel
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Issues in Research and Policy
EditorsDorit Roer-Strier, Yochay Nadan
PublisherSpringer International Publishing : Imprint: Springer
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-44277-4
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameChild Maltreatment

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Child Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Health(social science)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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