Estonian child protection workers' experiences of client violence



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Tartu Ülikool


The aim of this Master’s thesis is to find out about the types of violence the child protection workers in Estonia have been exposed to by clients and in what way they describe the aftermath and effects of that violence. The research questions were formed as follows: 1. According to the child protection workers, what are the types of violence by clients they have been exposed to at work? 2. How do the child protection workers describe the consequences/effects of the client violence they experienced? 3. According to the child protection workers, what were the measures taken at the workplace by superiors and/or workplace after the incidents? To conduct this qualitative research, eight Estonian child protection workers were individually interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Content analysis was used to analyse the research material. The interviewees represent different sizes of local governments from smaller municipalities to bigger cities and are geographically located unevenly almost throughout Estonia. The interviews took place during April of 2022. The results show that Estonian child protection workers are exposed to client violence, mainly to psychological violence including threats. The negative consequences of the client violence can be versatile and even devastating on the well-being, health, and the person’s ability to work. Some positive outcomes also came up, the main outcome being a positive effect on professional and personal growth. Most of the child protection workers acknowledged little or no support from the management in conjunction with client violence, yet some brought out the excellent level of management who have offered all the support needed. The vital and appreciated role of collegial support came up strongly throughout all the interviews.