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Scandal, social policy and social welfare2nd, Rev. Ed$
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Ian Butler

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9781861347466

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861347466.001.0001

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The story of Cinderella:

The story of Cinderella:

The Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Care and Supervision Provided in Relation to Maria Colwell 1974

Chapter:
(p.83) five The story of Cinderella:
Source:
Scandal, social policy and social welfare
Author(s):

Ian Butler

Mark Drakeford

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781861347466.003.0005

It was through the case of Maria Colwell that child abuse became established as a ‘major social problem’ in Britain. The discursive consequences of Colwell extend well beyond the circumstances of one little girl's death at the hands of her carers. This chapter revisits some of the finer detail and contemporary significance of Colwell as a reminder that welfare scandals are founded on very particular events, inhabited by all-too-real people, and that the Public Inquiries which sometimes follow are very much products of their own time and place. The most easily discernible consequence of Colwell (and succeeding child-care tragedies throughout the 1980s) was the proliferation of guidance to regulate the conduct of child protection practice and to articulate the ground rules for the management of child-abuse cases. While this may have worked for the good of children and young people, other effects on social-work practice are more in doubt.

Keywords:   Maria Colwell, child abuse, Britain, welfare, scandals, Public Inquiries, child protection, social work

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