Decision-Making on Child Neglect: Ghanaian Social Workers’ Views and Experiences

Esmeranda Manful, Alhassan Abdullah, Ebenezer Cudjoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social workers’ ability to make decisions concerning whether (or not) neglect has occurred is an important element towards ensuring the safety and wellbeing of neglected (or at-risk) children. Yet, there is little empirical evidence on the procedures adopted by Ghanaian social workers in identifying neglect. Drawing on semi-structured in-depth interviews with 15 social workers, using a phenomenological approach, this study sought to explore how social workers make decisions whether neglect has occurred. Social workers reported the use of interviewing skills, observing incongruence between verbal and non-verbal cues, field observations/home visits and the child’s physical appearance as ways of identifying that neglect has occurred. The study findings are indicative that social workers can develop guidelines to inform how they identify that neglect has occurred to provide timely and adequate intervention for affected children. Also, the findings suggest that probing into areas of inconsistencies in parents’ statements could help social workers determine whether a parent has been neglectful. The study highlights the usefulness of families’ ecological factors in supporting child protection workers’ decisions on reported neglect cases. Studies that examine the nuances in these ecological factors and other disadvantages such as poverty in line with conventional child protection practice could help extend knowledge on this topic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-285
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal on Child Maltreatment
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Child neglect
  • Decision-making
  • Parents
  • Social workers
  • Ghana


Dive into the research topics of 'Decision-Making on Child Neglect: Ghanaian Social Workers’ Views and Experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this