Representations of fathers and mothers in court petitions for dependent minor status for children at risk

Bilha Davidson-Arad*, Einat Peled, Ronit Leichtentritt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The study compares child protection workers' portrayals of fathers and mothers in the court petitions that they write to obtain authorization to place a child at risk in alternative care or under state guardianship at home. Forty-six petitions in three cities in Israel were content analyzed. Consistent with previous studies at other stages of the child protection process, the analysis shows that the child protection workers focus on the mother and pay little attention to the father and, moreover, that it treats the mother as the parent responsible for the problem. It also shows that the petitions virtually ignore the impact that the very difficult life conditions of most of the women may have on their maternal functioning. The authors conclude that the differential portrayal of mothers and fathers in the petitions reflects the social construction of parenting in our society as well as the workers' beliefs that their portrayals will convince the court to grant their petitions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-902
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Child protection workers
  • Children at risk
  • Court petitions
  • Fathers
  • Mothers


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