Using the Capability Approach in Social Work with Children Experiencing Post-Separation Parental Stalking

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This article analyses Finnish children’s experiences of post-separation parental stalking as a form of domestic violence and explores how the capabilities approach (CA) can help social workers understand the issue and support children. The data consist of thematic interviews with eighteen children and young people (aged 4–21 years) whose father or stepfather has stalked their mothers after separation. The theory-driven data analysis was carried out by utilising the CA as the theoretical framework. Our findings show that parental stalking undermines children’s well-being by compromising their safety and reducing their capabilities to use their agency. The study deepened our understanding of issues that children value in their lives and of their possibilities to exercise their agency under parental stalking. Our findings suggest that social workers can support children’s agency and their chances of living out their values through interventions which provide internal and external protection. It is important that social workers create a situated understanding of children’s experiences through a relationship in which children are considered sentient individuals who are listened to and valued. The article offers a novel contribution to the application of the CA in social work involving children exposed to parental stalking.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbcac163
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Sep 2022
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • capability approach
  • child protection
  • domestic violence
  • parental stalking

Field of science

  • Social work


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