Employees in the child welfare service have a particularly high risk of experiencing violence and threats in connection with their work. A recent survey from Fellesorganisasjonen shows that more than 50% of the employees in the child welfare service have been subjected to violence or threats of violence. In addition, it has been found that employees in the child welfare service are the occupational group most exposed to threats, harassment and hate speech on the internet. Actual violent and threats of violence can have serious consequences for those exposed, including reduced health, safety and well-being. It is therefore important to understand how to reduce the risk of violence and  to manage these situations way when they do occur. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that workers are protected from violence and threats. Employers should prevent violence and threats in the same systematic way as they prevent other risks in the workplace.

In the research current project Oslo municipality and STAMI plan to conduct a survey among employees in the child welfare services in order to map both direct and indirect exposure to threats of violence and actual violence. The first main objective of the project is to determine the prevalence of violence and threats among employees in the child welfare service and to examine how different forms of threats and violence relate to health and well-being among employees. A second objective of the project is to provide knowledge that can be used to develop effective measures and interventions against violence and threats. In doing so, we will examine to what extent employees perceive themselves as protected with regard to violence and threats, whether employees know what kind of routines that apply in cases of violence, their effectiveness, and what possibly lacks regarding such routines.

The research project will be conducted as a questionnaire survey with three survey rounds over a period of 12 months. All employees of the child welfare service in Oslo municipality will be asked to participate. In addition, employees who wish to do so will have the opportunity to participate in a follow-up survey. The first round of questionnaires distributed to the participants in late autumn 2019 or early winter 2020.

Knowledge of job-related exposures among employees in the child welfare service is important in order to protect the employees’ health, well-being and work ability, which in turn will determine the quality of the work the employees perform. The results of this project will help to identify specific risk factors that employees in the child welfare service are exposed to and the importance of these for health and well-being. The findings will therefore also have an impact on the development of measures and action plans for further safeguarding of employees.

Project leader: Morten Birkeland Nilsen.  More information about the project is to be found on the Norwegian project page.