The construction of parents' cannabis use in the context of child protection has far-reaching implications for how their parenting is perceived and assessed and for the decisions made regarding their children's lives. Yet little is known about the meanings various stakeholders in child protection processes attribute to parents' cannabis use. This paper aims to explore constructions of parents' cannabis use in child protection court proceedings and position them within a political and social context. A qualitative data mining method was used to examine 32 Family Court judgements in care proceedings that involved parents using cannabis in England and Wales. The analysis of the judgements revealed that most portrayed parents' cannabis use as a negative, deviant and harmful activity. Three constructions of cannabis use were identified: cannabis use as a risk to children, cannabis use as proof of parents' deficits, and cannabis use as (responsible) self-medication. The discussion considers the findings in light of two social and political processes that underpin child protection policy and practice: the adoption of a risk perspective and the manifestation of othering processes. Implications for policy and practice highlight the importance of developing a critical framework for responding to parental cannabis use.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Sociology and Political Science