Social workers’ constructions of child risk and protection in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community

Netanel Gemara*, Yochay Nadan, Dorit Roer-Strier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Summary: Social workers’ perceptions regarding child risk and protection tend to rely on universal criteria that may differ from the perceptions of minority groups. The Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Israel is a strictly religious, segregated, close-knit community with idiosyncratic values and norms that differ from those of social workers in the country. This qualitative study aimed to explore social workers’ perceptions and ascribed meanings of child risk and protection in Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. To this end, 30 in-depth interviews were conducted with social workers working with this community. Findings: The study identified four distinct primary areas of risk and protection for children in Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community: spirituality, collectivism, segregation, and hierarchy. Each of these areas encompasses factors of both protection and risk. Applications: The study’s findings highlight the gaps between the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and social workers who adopt Western universal views regarding child risk and protection. This article advocates a context-informed approach when dealing with minority communities. Adopting such an approach can contribute to better cooperation between professionals and their clients from minority groups and advance the well-being of children.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1469-1488
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • Social work
  • Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community
  • child protection
  • child risk
  • context-informed perspective
  • multiculturalism
  • spirituality


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