Moral Panics and Social Work: towards a sceptical view of UK child protection

Gary Clapton (Lead / Corresponding author), Viviene E. Cree, Mark Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we apply the lens of moral panic to analyse child protection social work in the UK. We suggest that many of the anxieties that beset social work are best understood as moral panics and discuss processes in which ‘claims-makers’ have introduced and amplified concerns into panics. We discuss two examples of anxieties over child endangerment: the first is concerned with the foundation of the NSPCC and its campaign for the Children’s Charter of 1889. The second is the contemporary 21st century anxiety over children and young people’s use of the Internet, exemplified in the activities of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and their ‘Children and Young Persons’ Global Online Charter’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-217
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number2
Early online date6 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


  • child protection
  • moral panics
  • social work

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