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Assessing the Influence of Religious Beliefs and Practices on Parenting Capacity: The Challenges for Social Work Practitioners

Jan Horwath and Janet Lees
The British Journal of Social Work
Vol. 40, No. 1 (JANUARY 2010), pp. 82-99
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43687423
Page Count: 18
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Assessing the Influence of Religious Beliefs and Practices on Parenting Capacity: The Challenges for Social Work Practitioners
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Abstract

The 1989 Children Act emphasizes the importance of giving due consideration to the child's religious persuasion. Yet, government assessment guidance provides practitioners with very little assistance in terms of establishing ways in which religious beliefs and practices influence family life. This is concerning at a time when considerable attention is being paid in the media to the negative influences of religious beliefs on parenting and Britain is becoming increasingly diverse. Drawing on a literature review of seventy-seven papers on religion and parenting, consideration is given to some of the challenges encountered by social workers when assessing the influence of religious beliefs on parenting. These challenges include: a lack of clarity with regard to what is meant by 'religion'; small-scale research studies with limited scope; a focus on perceptions of the influence of religious beliefs; disregard for both social workers' own views about religion and the ways in which these views are likely to influence practice. Moreover, poor preparation on social work training programmes and minimal support from supervisors mean that practitioners do not feel confident exploring religious beliefs and practices with families. All these factors lead to a significant influence in many families' lives being ignored.

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