"They tarred me with the same brush": navigating stigma in the context of child removal

Joanne McGrath*, Monique Lhussier, Stephen Crossley, Natalie Forster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Child removals are increasing in England and Wales. Family court involvement is particularly common among women with multiple disadvantages, and the rates are higher in economically marginalised areas. This article aims to explore women’s narratives of child removal within life stories of homelessness and examines how stigma, power and State surveillance manifest in their experiences. Data drawn from qualitative interviews with 14 mothers in the north-east of England who had experienced the removal of their children through the family courts are explored within the wider context of a neoliberal political agenda of “troubled families”, and in particular, “deviant mothers”. The participants describe how stigma structured their interactions with social services. Despite the known poor outcomes associated with child removal for both mothers and children, professional involvement often tapers off afterwards, with little support for mothers. Drawing on women’s accounts, we seek to illuminate their experiences of child removal and enhance our understanding of how stigma plays out in statutory settings, further entrenching social exclusion and ultimately increasing health inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6162
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2023

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