The scope of child protection work is potentially huge. The manifestations of child maltreatment range from inappropriate diet through to rape. There has to be a paring down of this mass of allegations and cases competing for attention. The choice of child protection priorities is what preoccupies this chapter. The discussion centres on the gendered nature of this choice and its gendered implications. The most meaningful way to discuss the gendered nature of child protection priorities is with reference to an actual example of prioritising which had major implications for increased scrutiny of mothering. This is the ‘new’ interest in child neglect in the local authority where I carried out my research. This chapter proceeds, then, with a focus on a specific categorisation of child maltreatment, that of ‘neglect’, but this focus is designed to illustrate much broader issues about the implications of child protection policy for gender inequality.
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