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The politics of food in child removal cases

Devine, Lauren



The recent ‘ACE movement’ (adverse childhood experience) is founded on a study of obese adults, noting that dysfunctional relationships with food can be rooted in trauma. Although relationships with food are noted in research to be problematic for some adults abused in childhood, the role of food in child removal decisions and subsequent State control of childhood eating is less well considered. Dysfunctional eating patterns established in childhood can lead to adult obesity and a lifelong struggle with eating behaviour and body image. In our research looking at child removals in England we obtained access to Court files. We noticed a focus on food in a surprisingly large volume of cases. Professional focus formed a judgemental power-base in the relationship between mothers and professionals during supervised visiting during court proceedings to remove children. Conversely, mothers tried to retain parental identity through providing food during supervised visits, and by complaining about the food provided by foster carers. The professional response to parental provision of food was critical and confrontational. These adult politics around food are not well understood but may offer additional reasons why for some removed children food retains a powerful hold.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Start Date Dec 4, 2018
Publication Date Dec 5, 2018
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Devine, L. (2018, December). The politics of food in child removal cases. Paper presented at Sociological Association of Aotearoa, New Zealand (SAANZ) Conference 2018: The Future is in the Past
Keywords politics of food, child removals, child protection, care cases crisis
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Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Sociological Association of Aotearoa, New Zealand (SAANZ) Conference 2018: The Future is in the Past


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