Tvångsvård eller frivillig placering? Socialsekreterares resonemang om barns placering när en förälder utövat dödligt våld
Compulsory care or not? Social workers’ discretionary reasoning when children need out-of-home care due to homicidal violence
The aim of this article is to analyse social workers’ discretionary reasoning when children need immediate and long-term out-of-home care due to homicidal violence. In Sweden, children may be placed in out-of-home care without legal proceedings as a voluntary support measure even in serious cases of maltreatment, if the child’s custodians give their consent to such care. However, a formally given consent might be questioned if it is not regarded as adequate or enough to provide the child with the appropriate care. This article explores how Swedish social workers reason about their discretion to suggest a voluntary placement or compulsory care for children in these cases of serious violence, and some legal dilemmas in practice. The study is based on six qualitative group interviews with fourteen Swedish social workers from four municipalities. Two constructed vignettes were used in the interviews. The article highlights what arguments social workers use to justify compulsory care or a voluntary placement and how different legal arguments might be put forward. The article illustrates how social workers find it difficult to legally justify an immediate compulsory-care decision in these cases, yet most of them claim that they would, in time, initiate a legal proceeding and suggest compulsory care.