State Provision of Resilience in Social Compulsory Care: A Vulnerability Analysis of Physical Constraint of Children and Youth Without Consent

International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 36 (4):1529-1545 (2023)
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Abstract

Children’s and young persons’ rights have received increasing been focus in recent decades, due in a significant degree to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In Sweden, compulsory care in the social-services system is disputed, not least for the forceful measures that facility personnel have at their disposal to control children in certain conflict situations. The general aim of this article is to examine how the increased emphasis in Sweden on children’s rights is promoting resilience for children and youth in youth compulsory secure-care settings. A more general question is whether the child-rights discourse leads in practice to increased resilience for children and youth in this setting, or even in general. The empirical material shows that children and young people’s perceptions of care and treatment are strongly linked to their interactions with staff and how the staff use restrictive measures. Applying Martha Fineman’s vulnerability theory in this context means that achieving resilience demands an analysis of the institutional settings in which children and young persons live their day-to-day lives, including their relationships in this setting. Comparing the legal possibilities of physical constraint with interviews of children and personnel reveals that relevant legislative frameworks and children’s-rights discourse should serve as a protection mechanism for children and youths, but in real life, these seem to have limited effect.

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