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Howell, Aaron Christopher.
Protecting the self :
b an ethnographic study of emotion management among child protective investigators
h [electronic resource] /
by Aaron Christopher Howell.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 67 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: The question that I investigate here is what emotion work is performed by child protective investigators in order to be successful at their work, and how do they manage these emotional challenges within a community of their peers? Many different workers, from airline employees (Hochschild, 1983) to mortuary science students (Cahill, 1999) to 911 operators (Shuler & Sypher, 2000), have been studied to examine strategies and effects of emotion management. Yet scholars do not agree on whether emotion management at work is positive or negative. For my research, I conducted interviews with ten investigators and observed a night unit of child protective investigators in a Central Florida Sheriff's Office. I observed three different types of strategies, which I discuss in detail: office based strategies, field based strategies, and personal strategies. Office based strategies include group humor, practical support and sharing experiences. Field based strategies include calming down the parent, enlisting the client, and distancing humor. Personal strategies include accentuating importance and blaming the parent. In the conclusion I summarize my research and discuss the finding that both novice and veteran child protective investigators use these strategies. I end with policy recommendations and I stress the importance of building a supportive professional community through further training.
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t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Protecting the Self: An Ethnographic Study of Emotion Management Among Child Protective Investigators by Aaron Christopher Howell A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Sociology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Margarethe Kusenbach, Ph.D. Donileen Loseke, Ph.D. Jim Cavendish, Ph.D. Date of Approval: October 30, 2008 Keywords: ethnography, interviews, challenges, strategies, work Copyright 2008 Aaron Christopher Howell
i TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ii INTRODUCTION 1 LITERATURE REVIEW 5 Child Protection Research 5 Emotion Work 8 METHODS 14 Observations 14 Interviews 16 Access 18 Difficulties 20 Data Analysis 22 SETTING 24 Emotional Challenges 28 STRATEGIES OF MANAGING EMOTION 32 Office Based Strategies 32 Field Based Strategies 40 Personal Strategies 47 DISCUSSION 55 REFERENCES CITED 59 APPENDICES 62 Appendix A: Overview of Participants 63 Appendix B: Interview Guideline 64 Appendix C: Child Pr otective Investigator Job Description 66
ii PROTECTING THE SELF: AN ET HNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF EMOTION MANAGEMENT AMONG CHILD PROTECTIVE INVESTIGATORS Aaron Christopher Howell ABSTRACT The question that I investigate here is wh at emotion work is performed by child protective investigators in order to be successful at their work, and how do they manage these emotional challenges within a community of their peers? Many different workers, from airline employees (Hochschild, 1983) to mortuary science students (Cahill, 1999) to 911 operators (Shuler & Sypher, 2000), have be en studied to examine strategies and effects of emotion management. Yet sc holars do not agree on whether emotion management at work is positive or negative. For my research, I conducted interviews with ten investigators and observed a night unit of child protective investigators in a Central Florida SheriffÂ’s Office. I observed three different types of strategies which I discuss in detail: office based strategies, field based strategies, and personal strategies. Office based strategies include group humor, practical support and sharing expe riences. Field based strategies include calming down the parent, enlisti ng the client, and distancing humor. Personal strategies include accentuating importance and blaming th e parent. In the conclusion I summarize my research and discuss the finding that both novice and veteran child protective investigators use these strategies. I end with policy recommendations and I stress the importance of building a supportive profe ssional community through further training.
1 INTRODUCTION As I watch the two children being removed from the home and escorted to the car I can see a change in their faces. They now realize that they will not be able to stay with their neighbor or th eir father who is currently in jail. The oldest child (13-year-old female) states to the worker that she does not want to return to the Â“systemÂ”. I ask the investigator later a nd find out that these children had been in the foster care system a few years ago when the father was unable to take care of them. The investigator does not answer the child and instead opens the back door to her car. Both children get in to the backseat and the investigator makes sure that they are buckled in. As we begin our 30-minute ride back to the office, I notice the youngest child (9-y ear-old boy) putting his hand across the seat to hold hands with his older sister. He looks scared and I overh ear his sister telling him that everything will be all right. After five minutes in the car, the children begin to ask questions of the inve stigator and want explanati ons for why they could not stay with their neighbor. The investigator ignores some of the questions and tries to answer others without putting a damp er on the hope that the children can, or will be reunited with relativ es. The investigator and I already know that their grandmother has refused to take them in, but the children believe that she may be their last hope. This ride felt like an eternity to me, there was crying, pleading, and anger coming from the backseat of that car. All the while the investigator stayed calm in managing the situation. I, on the ot her hand, felt sick to my stomach and wanted to help those children by any mean s necessary. I have worked with these types of children before and believed that I was ready for this situation, but this affected me more than I expected. Watching this removal was hands down the hardest thing that I have e xperienced so far during my data collection. (Fieldnotes VII) Child Protective Investigators (CPIs) are given the responsib ility of guarding societyÂ’s most valuable resource, its children. These investigators experience many emotions during their workday, including anger, sadness guilt, depression, happiness, satisfaction, bitterness, tiredness, provocation, uneasines s, hesitation, loneliness, indifference, suspiciousness, helplessness, concern, pa ssion, certainty, security, sympathy, empathy, love, disillusionment, and many more that I will not be able to cover. Some of these
2 emotions are positive and some are negative, but despite their emotions, investigators must complete their duties. Self-protection is necessary for the investigator in order to complete these duties. They must protect their mental and physical well-being and do so by using strategies to manage emotion they learn and use while being on the job. At times, investigators can be overcome by emoti ons. Journalist Sherri Ackerman (2007) reports in the Tampa Tribune what can happe n when CPI workers become overwhelmed. In the fiscal years ending in 2006 and 2007 in Florida: fifty-six child welfare workers were i nvestigated on allega tions of falsifying records. nineteen Workers were fired after being investigated. twenty-four workers resigned before or after bein g investigated. CPI workers sometimes must make life and d eath decisions that, in the end, will lead back to them if anything goes wrong. Additio nally, workers are often blamed even if there is no practical way they can do what is expected of them. These workers also have only sixty days to close a file, are overlo aded with cases, and continually experience burnout leading to high turnover rates. In 2006, I realized, based on my wifeÂ’s wo rk experiences, that many CPIs were leaving their job in my local county. I had often heard that this was a Â“tough jobÂ” and that it took Â“specialÂ” people to do it well. Being a sociology graduate student led me to ask why some people stayed at this job and why some did not. The final event that helped me decide that this would be my t opic of research was when my wife failed to make it at this job and finally quit afte r four months of tears and anger.
3 Seeing some of the challenges of this job up close led me to the main question that I would like to investigate here. Which strategies do child pr otective investigators use to successfully manage the emotional challe nges of their job? My interest in this topic also stems from my past and present expe rience as a social worker. I am currently a drug treatment counselor in the jail system. I have often stated that without techniques of managing emotion I would not be able to cope with the trauma and despair that comes with this type of job. My research inve stigating CPIs was ethnogr aphic in nature and included interviews and observations. My re search purpose was to observe and interview investigators to discover how they manage the emotional challenges of their job. I conducted my study in a large metropolit an city in Central Florida. The Plantation County Child Protec tive Investigation Division (C PID) is a division of the SheriffÂ’s Office that, in total, employs over 3,000 workers. Over 100 workers are working in the CPID at any given time; this includes investigators, resource staff, and administration. The CPID was created in 2006 after the Department of Children and Families (DCF), which is a State agency, was fo rced to give up its child investigation unit in this county. The state had offered money to each countyÂ’s SheriffÂ’ s Office to take over the investigation wing of DCF, and Plantation County decided to take on this burden in 2006. The CPID must maintain strict policies and procedure in order to function, and it requires certification from all of its investigators. In the following sections, I first review the literature on child protection work and discuss its challenges. Then I review past research on emotion work and begin to frame my study through the lens of previous conceptual approaches. I then move on to describe my method and data, as well as the setting where the research was conducted. Next, I
4 describe my research findings, focusing on the emotion management strategies CPI workers utilize in order to cope with their em otions. Finally, I discuss the implications of my study and lay out future research topics and strategies that c ould further strengthen the findings of my study.
5 LITERATURE REVIEW In order to situate my research, I will firs t document some of th e challenges of child protection work as they were discussed in past research. I will then detail my research question and my initial assumptions. Finally, I will review the vast research on emotion work, and on strategies of emotion management at work, to make further connections to my study and the work of child protection. Child Protection Research Child Protective Investigators most importantly deal with allegations and incidents of child abuse. Child abuse is not a static c oncept but one that has been constructed over time (Cradock, 2004; Gold et al., 2001). What people see as abuse today would have been considered Â“disciplineÂ” twenty years ago in most cases. This cultural shift adds to the struggle of determining policy and procedur es for child protective investigators. The investigators are trained in a classroom to ma ke decisions in an ever changing cultural and legal landscape. Because the signs of abuse are constantly re framed, investigators have to learn to be flexible with how their cases are constructed. In my dealings with investigators there were some who stated th ey did not care if a child was spanked, yet other investigators were less lenient on a parent spanking a child. Investigators do not make decisions in a vacuum; they are always subjected to the watchful eye of public
6 opinion and media speculation. These entiti es also weigh in on their decision, which makes their job even more difficult. Child protective investigatorsÂ’ decisi ons come under an extreme amount of pressure and scrutiny from the public and the media (Mennen and OÂ’Keefe, 2005; Smith and Donovan, 2003). Investigators make the fr ont-page news, or have the lead on the evening TV news, whenever something goes wrong. As an example, late in 2007 a Washington DC mother killed her four childr en and continued to live with the bodies in her home until she was evicted. When the news media reported this case, they focused on the contact this woman had with child prot ective services and on how those services had failed the children. The following quote fr om a Washington Post article in January 2008 shows the focus on the investigators by the reporter as well as the mayor. The case, with its young victims, ages 5, 6, 11 and 17, has left city officials swamped with concerns that the children were lost by the system. Fenty (Mayor of Washington DC) called the case record "extremely underwhelming and disappointing" and vowed to change pro cedures and punish or fire employees found responsible for letting the fa mily slip through the cracks. In contrast, very rarely do investigators make the news when they save a childÂ’s life or help a family that is in need. Therefore, investigators hear all a bout the negative things they do from other people, but only the inve stigator and his or he r peers know of the good things that they may accomplish. The medi a coverage of CPIs often only shows two extremes of their decision-making process, and both of them are negative. Most coverage of CPIs is of the investigator eith er being neglectful or being overly zealous in their investigations of parents or guardi ans (Corby, 2003). These two extremes have been studied in past research (Platt, 2006) The publicÂ’s opinion of CPI workers often
7 stems from the media coverage. Consequently, when investigators show up at a familyÂ’s doorstep, the family may have already put up its defenses. Reich (2005) studied the inner workings of the child welfare system and gave an unprecedented look into the system as a whole. She followed cases from the start of the investigation, through the removal of the child ren, to (in some cases) the reunification of a family. Her research shows the profound effect investigatorsÂ’ decisions have on children, their families, and on society in general. Decision-making is even more difficult when, in addition to the challeng es of a job, you may witness horrible or traumatic events. A job like this calls for someone who can manage their emotions and make solid decisions despite all of the a bove mentioned pressures and distractions. With the above factors in place, it is not surprising that a number of people have conducted research on the impact of burnout and traumatic events on child welfare workers (Regehr, Hemsworth, Leslie, Howe, and Chau, 2004). Burnout in the human service professions is acknowledged as a wi despread and almost inevitable phenomenon (Maslach, 1978). Maslach explains how this happens. The intense involvement with clients re quired of professional staff in various human service institutions includes a great deal of emotional stress, and failure to cope successfully with such stress ca n result in the emotional exhaustion syndrome of burn-out, in which staff lose all feeling and concern for their clients and treat them in detached or even dehumanized ways. (Maslach, 1978, 111) Maslach also comments on the poor quality of work that human service workers can exhibit due to emotional exhaustion and det achment from their clients in his book titled Burnout (1982). In 2003, the Florida Senate, in an effort to retain investigat ors and lower their high turnover rates, passed legislation to form the Protective Investigation Retention
8 Workgroup (PIRW, 2003). The PIRW returned with an interim report describing the factors involved in the problem of turnover. The PIRW identified the reasons for high turnover among CPI investigator s based on research by the Child Welfare Institute, a look at other statesÂ’ systems for conducting ch ild protective investig ations, and holding workgroup meetings during which information was collected. The PIRW report listed high caseload, low salary, bad management, inadequate hiring/training, and lack of services for the clients as the primary reasons for why investigators were leaving. The above summary of previous work in th is area reveals some interesting issues yet it also indicate the need for a bett er understanding of how child protective investigators successfully cope with the challeng es of their job. We need to identify Â“best practicesÂ” in the field and not only focus on st ructural failures to ge t a better picture of why some CPIs stay on the job and why others leave. Understandi ng retention will lead to policy recommendations that might he lp slow the turnover rate of CPIs. I originally believed that social support by colleagues was vital for investigators to cope with these challenges. Social s upport, particularly the support provided by coworkers, has been identified as one of the key protective factors against burnout (DavisSacks, Jayaratne, & Chess, 1985). I also de cided to compare novice and veteran CPIs to see if there are differences in the use of emotion management strategies based on work experience. Emotion Work This section is an overview of the concept of emotion work. Hochschild (1983, 7) defines emotional labor as Â“man agement of feeling to create a publicly observable facial
9 and bodily display.Â” Hochschild states that wh en this is done in private she defines it as emotion work or management. (1983, 7) This definition describes what child protective workers do on a daily basis in order to be ab le to provide services to the community. Hochschild (1983) identifies two types of emo tion work typically done in private life that may also be utilized at work, surface and deep acting. Hochschild (1990, 35) describes surface acting as when Â“the action is in the body language, the put-on sneer, the posed shrug, the controlled sighÂ”. She clarifies that surface acting is when you are deceiving others. However, in deep acting you Â“deceiveÂ” yourself (1983, 33) by changing your very beliefs. Deep acting is described as when the display is a natural result of working on feeling.Â” (33) Hochschild gives an example of airline workers acting as if the airplane cabin was their home to better serve customers. She states that Â“diplomats and actors do this (surface acting) best, and very small child ren do it worst (it is pa rt of their charm).Â” (1983, 33) Workers are often trained to be Â“genuineÂ” and Â“honestÂ” when dealing with clients or customers. The difference betw een surface and deep acting then takes on an important role in the workersÂ’ ability to manage emotion. Does the worker understand that they are deceiving others or are they deceiving themselves through emotion management? Hochschild (1983) believes that companies and institutions had hijacked this private skill of managing emotions in order to make a profit. Hochschild argues that this hijacking of emotion management alienates workers from their feelings when it is a required part of their job. I believe that th is alienation can also happen with CPI workers as they manage emotions in or der to complete their duties.
10 One must understand the great effort it takes workers to manage negative and difficult emotions in a way that allows them to live a Â“normalÂ” life. Fineman (1993, 19) wrote: Many professional workersÂ… are paid for their skill in emotion management. The feeling rules are implicit in their pr ofessional Â“disciplineÂ” (an apt term) Â– Â“rational,Â” Â“scientific,Â” Â“caring,Â” Â“object ive.Â” Benign detachment disguises, and defends against, any private feelings of pain, despair, fear, attraction, revulsion or love; feelings which would otherwise inte rfere with the professional relationship. There are costs if the mask slips Â– perhaps a feeling of unease between professional and client or, more seri ously, expulsion from the professional community for revealing Â“inappropriateÂ” emotions. In the above passage, Fineman describes how workers are taught emotion management in certain professions. Without these skills, workers may become outcasts due to an Â“inappropriateÂ” revealing of personal emotions As a social worker, I was trained by professors on how to manage my emotions, ev en to the point of l earning how to control crying. There were also lessons on detachment and on the danger of blending the roles of the worker and the client. W ithout these skills, we were wa rned, we would not be Â“goodÂ” social workers. Scholars have studied the emotion mana gement of workers in many different contexts (for an overview see Meanwell, Wo lfe, & Hallett, 2008). However, they do not agree on whether these efforts should be consid ered positive or nega tive. Many different professionals, from airline employees (Hochs child, 1983), to mortuary science students (Cahill, 1999), to 911 operat ors (Shuler & Sypher, 2000), to fashion models (Mears & Finlay, 2005) have been studied to examin e the strategies and effects of emotion management. Hochschild (1983) generally beli eves that emotional labor is negative and can lead to alienation of the self. However, Mears and FinlayÂ’s ( 2005) exploration of the
11 modeling world found that emotion manageme nt could help the women achieve goals, such as employment and self-respect, and thus have positive effects. No researcher has answered the question of whether emotion wo rk on the job can be positive and negative at the same time. In my study of investigators, the emotion work being done can at times be surface acting, but for the veteran workers I theorize that it often includes deep acting as well. In order to maintain a job with difficult emoti onal challenges, workers have to be able to manage their emotions in deeper ways, not just on the surface. CPIÂ’s deep acting strategies may be similar to the ones used by workers in animal shelters (Arluke, 1998). Arluke discussed th e strategies animal workers used when having to euthanize animals. Some of th e strategies he found, such as Â“humorÂ” and Â“using the patient/ownerÂ”, are similar to th e ones found in Smith & KleinmansÂ’ (1989) study among medical students. They obser ved and interviewed medical students and found that emotion management was not someth ing that was discusse d widely, but that the medical students drew on asp ects of their training to gain strategies to manage their emotions with clients. I will make conn ections between these strategies and the techniques that I found among invest igators later in the paper. In addition to the concepts of surface and deep acting, the concept of Â“reciprocal emotion managementÂ” (Lively, 2000) is relevant here. Lively defines this idea in her study of private law firm employers: For example, reciprocal emotion manageme nt allows employees to manage their own and othersÂ’ emotional reactions to th e demands of the job including but not limited to the emotional labor that they ar e required to perform for others (Lively, 2000, 33).
12 Reciprocal emotion management in her study was demonstrated by paralegals who helped manage the emotion of other paralegals so that their co-workers could help clients and other lawyers. Later, the paralegal who was helped would then reciprocate this management of emotions to another paralegal or the same one that helped them. Lively explains the issue of Â“caretaki ngÂ” in her study of paralegals. She describes the telling of horror stories, the use of hu mor, acting out emotional ev ents, and venting anger as examples of reciprocal emotion manageme nt strategies. Again, the concept of Â“reciprocal emotion managementÂ” is relevant for my research of CPIs and will be discussed again later. Finally, researchers have discussed emoti on management that is directed at self and/or others (Meanwell, Wolfe, & Hallett, 2008). Chin (2000) observed sixth graders and their parents as she tutored upper income students in preparation of a private high school entry exam. She found that parents no t only manage their own emotions during this process, but that they also manage the emotions of their children. In addition, Cahill & Eggleston (1994) found that wheelchair user s manage other peopleÂ’s emotions as much as they manage their own while in public. While conducting secondary research I found the use of many different methodologies used to research professionals and their emotion work. For example, Waldron (2000) used a questionnaire to gather his data because of the sensitive nature of the information he was trying to obtain from parole officers and support staff. Waldron based his decision on previous studies that demonstrated how questionnaires were better suited for this type of research.
13 Miller, Considine, and Garner (2007) c onducted a context analysis of two books about working to gather their data. They collected 115 narratives from these texts and then coded emotional descriptions in order to find relevant narratives or stories of Â“the workplace.Â” These researchers believe that by adding layers to th eir data collection, including coding the data individually and th en again later in a group discussion, they gain more depth in the analysis of the analysis. Rutman (1996) collected his research th rough three one-day research workshops with childcare providers. He then led in-gr oup discussions about what their Â“idealÂ” caregiving situation would be like. In the second part of the research, the caregivers were asked to submit two written examples of when they had felt powerful or powerless in a situation. Rutman chose this methodology because it promoted opportunities for caregivers to gain strength and pow er by recognizing shared issues. In their study of 911 operators, Shuler & Sypher (2000) used a methodology that is similar to the one I chose for my study. Th ey chose to observe 911 operators prior to interviewing them. After the interview, they then listene d to taped 911 phone calls and found situations where operators were handli ng potentially difficult situations. In my study, the opportunity to observe CPI workers prior to interviewing them helped discover possible areas of interest that might not have been discovered otherwise. In the following section, I will discuss my methods and data, as well as some of the difficulties I had in collecting data for this study.
14 METHODS My data sets consist of seven field visits a nd ten individual intervie ws collected over five months between October 2007 and February 20 08. All names of individuals used here are pseudonyms. I also changed the names of the site agency, including the county, and the metropolitan city where the di vision is located. Since my research questi on dealt with how investigators manage their emotions, I c hose to perform intensive interviews with a sample of individual investigat ors in addition to observations Interviews allowed me to collect first person acco unts of the work of investigator s, while my observations allowed me to see directly what they actually do. These two methods together allowed for rich insights because they gave me different pe rspectives of the CPI workersÂ’ emotion management. Observations For my observations, I visited the CPID building seven times between October and December of 2007. I observed for a total of 15 hours, spending an average of just over two hours each time. Due to my busy schedul e, I decided to obser ve the CPID night units during their normal work hours. After two visits, I de cided to focus on only one of the two night units because this unitÂ’s schedule best matched my own schedule. This allowed me to get better access and to conduc t in-depth observations during my limited field research period. The following is a quick description of the night unit that I observed, which is managed by a woman I call Ms. Jackson. Ms. Jackson is a supervisor
15 and the highest-ranking person on site at night. Ms. Jackson supervises a team of six regular CPIs, which I called Ms. Dumble, Ms. Darling, Ms. Newsome, Mr. Evans, Mr. Peach, and Mr. Nelson. I chose to observe this unit rather than the other one because this team spent more time in the office interacting and was more frequently available on the nights that I could observe. At the time of my observations, the night unit commenced many cases, but then turned them over to th e day unit to follow up and to provide any ongoing case management. However, as of Fe bruary 2008, all investigators now carry a caseload and no distinction is made in w ho commences the case and who provides case management. During two of my visits, I went on ride-al ongs with investigators from Â“myÂ” unit. I happened to ride along with one of my in terviewees during my observations, meaning I was able to not only hear about how he managed emotions, but also observe him with his clients. The other five visits I spent observi ng this team of inves tigators in their office building. In total, I wrote thir ty pages of single spaced fieldn otes. Most of my fieldnotes focus on the interactions between the investigators and on encounters between investigators and clients. In honing my methodological skills, I relied on readings to help me better understand the purpose of field resear ch. I also learned to improve the writing of my fieldnotes (Emerson, Fretz, & Sh aw, 1995, 1-65). During my observations, I periodically jotted notes on a notepad. After my observa tions, I would take fifteen minutes in my car to jot further notes and incl ude other details of my visit. I then wrote up my detailed fieldnotes immediately after I arrived at home, relying on my jottings and my memory to recreate the events.
16 Interviews I used a random sampling technique to re cruit ten interviewees out of 98 total investigators working at th e division in October 2007. After five random draws and subsequent interviews, I had f our veteran workers (who had been working a year or more as a CPI) and one novice worker (who had been working a year or less as a CPI). For the next five interviews, I purposively sampled fi ve investigators in or der to better balance my sample. My second sample was selected by randomly choosing 20 investigators from the remaining list and then w ith the help of my CPID c ontact, going through the list to select the first four novice investigators and the first veteran investigator for an interview. When one investigator declined to participat e in the interview, I moved on to the next appropriate name on the list. This technique gave me a final sample that includes five veteran investigators and five novice investigators. My sample for this study consists of four male and six female workers. The age of participants ranges between 24 and 50, with eight of the interviewees being Caucasian, one Asian (Indian), and one Hispanic (Pue rto Rican). All had college degrees in disciplines ranging from Criminology to Busi ness. Additionally, two investigators had Masters Degrees (Social Work and Criminal Ju stice). The least amount of experience in child protection was six months (Mr. Newman and Ms. Masters) and the most experience a worker in my sample had was 12 years (Mr. Rocky). The average amount of experience on the job for novice workers was approximately eight months, and for the veteran workers it was five years. S ee Appendix A for more information on the participants.
17 I asked participants to sign consent form s and I recorded the interview using a digital recorder. Later I had the interviews fu lly transcribed by a professional service. Each interview took place at the CPID bu ilding in Plantation County where the CPIs worked. The length of the interviews varie d, they ranged from twenty-five minutes to one hour and twenty minutes. Each of the interviews was done during work time (with permission of the Major) on paid investigat or time, meaning there was no extra effort required. During each interview, I asked questions about the investigatorÂ’s background, how the investigator came to work in child protection, and how the investigator managed situations with clients and p eers. I especially focused on questions about the difficulties of the job. I also directly asked questions on how the investigator managed situations that arose with challenging clients. In early interviews I focused on whether and how the community of CPIs helped workers manage their emotions, but as the first round of interviews was completed, I realized that th is was not the only major source of support for my respondents and changed my questions accordingly. See Appendix B for the final interview schedule. Prior to my interviews, I reviewed tip s on interviewing found in Robert WeissÂ’ book (1994, 61-119). Especially helpful was the section on Â“markersÂ” found on page seventy-seven. This section helped me ask questions without missing important information that the interviewee may not be open to share immediately. An example of a marker during one of my interviews was wh en a respondent made a comment about his experience of being in foster care. During th is first interview, I missed the chance to ask follow up questions, but after reading the se ction on markers, I became more aware of
18 such comments during interviews and tried to follow up with questions that were relevant to the respondentsÂ’ experiences. In WeissÂ’ book (1994), I also found helpful information on how to guide respondents to share more information. On pages seventy-five and following, he outlined ways of Â“obtaining concrete information in the area of inquiryÂ” by using the following forms of development (75-76): extending, f illing in detail, iden tifying actors, making indications explicit. These fo rms of development allowed me to gather information from the investigator. After completing my intervie ws and prior to the st art of my writing of the thesis, I attempted to make follow up calls to each of my respondents. I was able to contact six of the ten original respondents and those six st ated that there had been no major changes in their jobs since we had spoken. Two re spondents did not return my calls and two respondents were no longer with the CPID. Both of them were novice investigators and they had resigned in order to take jobs outside of ch ild welfare services. Overall, the interviewing phase of my study was extremely usef ul due to the depth of data that I was able to collect. Access I gained access to my setting, the Plantati on County SheriffÂ’s Office Child Protective Investigation Division (CPID) in April 2007. My point of contact was Laura, a general manager within the CPID. She provided me with the entire list of employed investigators and connected me to the supervisors of the ni ght units. I presented my research idea and design to Laura and she brought it to the attent ion of the head of the CPID, and he wrote a letter of support for my research. This le tter along with a formal application enabled
19 me to receive approval from my universit yÂ’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). I disclosed my research to everyone who I met while conducting fieldwork at CPID, but due to the large total number of investigators, I was not able to disclo se it to everyone. This was not a big problem because my obser vations were conducted at night with a unit that was largely isolated from the rest of the investigators. Everyone within this unit was aware of my research and of the purpose of my observations. Amanda Coffey (1999, 56) stat es that, Â“fieldwork relies upon the establishing and building of relationships with significant others in the fiel d.Â” Coffey thus stresses the importance of personal relationships for the su ccess of any fieldwork. Coffey adds that fieldwork forces you to maintain relationshi ps by managing your emotions, thus engaging in emotional labor. My understanding of the importance of relationships helped me gain access to the night unit. I believe my career and experience as a social worker, and the fact that I was also currently working for the Plantation SheriffÂ’s Office, allowed me a place in their community. I felt like I fitted into this group of investigators and they included me in many of their conversations. However, after a while I sometimes needed to physically remove myself from conversat ions because I felt like I was becoming too much the focus of the action. Upon returning, I would then redirect my attention to observing their inter actions of which I was not the focus. Throughout the research, I distanced myself several times from certain individuals whom I was observing because I felt that if I came too close to them, it would cause problems for my research. I believed that if I befriended certain inve stigators, then other investigators would not be as open to me as I hoped. Some investigators that I avoided were viewed as Â“naysayersÂ” in their CPID unit; they were people who complained about
20 everything and appeared to be not well liked by supervisors and other investigators. I quickly found that other inves tigators gossiped about and pulle d pranks on these types of people and realized that I could not be associated with them too closely. Overall, gaining access to the CPID community demanded some patience and work, but once I arrived on site, it felt like the CPID unit I studied accepted me as one of their own, at least temporarily. Difficulties I encountered several difficulties during my data collection, including my personal reactions to ride-alongs, schedul ing problems, and changes in the structure of the CPID. In the following section, I will discuss thes e difficulties and my attempts to overcome them. As indicated in the opening fieldnote, I was not prepared for my emotional reaction to watching children be ing sheltered during ride-alongs It caused a knot in my stomach. Even with my years of experience in social work, I did not handle the situation very well. It was a learning experience fo r me and really helped me understand the emotional challenges of the CPIÂ’s job. I ha d read about the challe nges, but seeing them in reality gave me a different perspective of what these investigators deal with on a daily basis. I learned to cope with this issue by talking with people w ithin my support system (professor, wife, parents) about my feelings. I also found myself using some of the same strategies that I woul d later discover in my research and analysis. As I read about child protective inves tigators during the spring of 2007, while preparing for my proposal defense, I learne d how overworked these investigators were
21 and how they often did not have time to fini sh the requirements of their job. Knowing this, however, it did not dawn on me that this time crunch would make my data collection more difficult. As I began the task of sche duling interviews, I quick ly noticed that only three of ten randomly contacted interviewees re turned my initial calls. This was my first taste of the difficulties that would follow. Af ter completing those three interviews, I then followed up with the remainder of my first sample and scheduled two more interviews during the first round. When I showed up for one of my interviews at the CPID building, the investigator was paged, and after a twenty minute wait, my next interviewee, Ms. Parker arrived in the front lobby. After exchanging pleasantr ies, I moved on to business, but quickly realized that Ms. Parker was distracted. I asked her if ev erything was all right and she stated that this morning she found out that sh e needed to be in court this afternoon, but she did not have the paperwork ready. She th en asked me if we could do the interview later. I hesitantly agreed a nd told her I would reschedule. After attempts at rescheduling with Ms. Parker twice failed, I decided to re cruit another investigator for my sample. The approximate situation described above occurred three more times during my research period, and each time the investigator Â’s reason for missing wa s directly linked to the job. I found that I needed to be more flexible in my scheduling and not take the cancellations as a personal reje ction, but to look at it as pa rt of the time management challenges that investigators face on a daily basi s. Eventually, I was able to interview ten suitable participants; even t hough it took me much longer than I had originally planned. As if this challenge was not enough in collecting my data, ther e were also changes in the
22 divisionÂ’s structure that both th e investigators and I had to deal with during the same time period. During my research period, there was a ma jor change in how shifts and hours were organized among investigators and s upervisors. Many units were reassembled, meaning investigators were moved to different units and different supervisors. This caused many investigators to have even less tim e, for now they did not only have their cases to deal with, but they al so needed to get used to being assigned to a new shift. My research plan called for me to interview five newer CPIs, who often needed more time to adjust to the change. These individuals of ten did not have any time to devote to the interview and when they did, they appeared distracted or in a hurry. I overcame this challenge by delaying some of my interviews so that investigators could become accustomed to their new posts and then be able to give me the time and attention I needed to complete my data collection. Data Analysis After collecting all data, I be gan coding and analyzing. I fi rst focused on my fieldnotes for a paper that I wrote for a graduate course on ethnography. In this paper, I identified several strategies of emotion manage ment and documented them through my observational data. After writing up those ini tial findings, I began to code and analyze the ten transcribed interviews. I began with a first detailed reading during which I wrote in the margins what each line or section was conveying to me, whether it seemed important or minute in detail. As Emerson states,
23 he (the researcher) does so (code) without regard for how or whether ideas and categories will ultimately be used, whether other relevant observations have been made, or how they will fit together. (Emerson, 1995, 151) After finishing this first round of coding, I bega n to look for themes in my margin notes. Eventually I started to group corresponding excerp ts together. I then used color markers to color-code some major themes and began to cut and paste excerpts into a separate electronic file. Finally, within this file, I ra nked data pieces from the best example of the theme to the least clear example. This step helped me later when selecting excerpts for the analysis section of this thesis. The excer pts I chose to discuss in the analysis section represent the best examples of what I observed in the field.
24 SETTING The Child Protective Investigation Division (CPID) first began operating in 2006. The agency began with newly trained and certified investigators whom the SheriffÂ’s Office hired from other counties and from the dismantled Department of Children and Families (DCF), the agency that previously manage d child protection in Plantation County. The new division of the SheriffÂ’ s Office, CPID, replaced the investigation section of DCF because of a high turnover of investigators and continued (negative) media coverage of neglectful investigator s. At the beginning of my res earch, the new unit, CPID had been operating for about 18 months. The requirements and qualifications needed fo r this job include the ability to work under stressful conditions and apply crisis intervention techniques. The entire job description can be seen in detail in Appendix C. The j ob duties for a child protective investigator are listed be low. The investigator: Investigates alleged abuse, neglect, and/or abandonmen t of children to determine if abusive or unsafe conditi ons exist and takes appropria te action to ensure the safety of children. Interviews children and adults concerning allegations of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment to ascertain the validity of allegations, document living conditions, and determine the need to remove ch ildren from an unsafe environment. Informs clients of available social serv ice programs to assist them with their needs. Conducts follow-up visits to ensure the safety of children is being maintained and support programs are in-place. Testifies in court to accurately relate th e circumstances of cases investigated. Establishes and maintains case management files, to include computer databases, to provide accurate record ing and availability of cas e information. (Plantation County Civil Service Board website, see references)
25 CPIs are considered sworn civilian employees and have the authority to remove a child from a parent or guardian; however, they ar e never allowed to act as a law enforcement agent. CPIs deal with two types of cases that come in through the Tallahassee Child Abuse Hotline, classified as either Â“immedi ateÂ” or Â“24 hour.Â” Citizens can call the 1-800 Hotline to report abuse and an initial report wi ll be taken in Tallahassee. The report is confidential and forwarded to local units who further investigate all calls. Â“ImmediateÂ” cases have to be commenced as soon as possi ble, because there app ears to be a possible risk to the child. AÂ“24-hourÂ” case can be comme nced within 24 hours, as the risk to the child is not considered immediate. As soon as the complaint is logged, the support staff at CPID begins researching background info rmation on the suspected abusers. Driver license records are pulled along with all court documents; such as arrest reports and other documents the staff feels will be relevant to the case. Once the file is created, it is assigned to a CPI. The investigator commen ces each case by separately interviewing the caregiver and the children. The investigator th en reassesses the risk of harm to the child, and with the help of the Attorney Generals Office, may use Â“probable causeÂ” to shelter at risk children. Â“Probable causeÂ” consists of cer tain risks that the child is facing that could have a negative effect. Abuse, drug use, negl ect, and past problems can all be viewed as Â“probable causeÂ” in removing a child from a parentÂ’s home. In total nearly a hundred child protective investigators worked for the CPID at the beginning of my research in Spring 2007. By the spring of 2008, the end of my research, this number had dropped to the mid eighties, meaning many of the positions have been left unfilled. This drop happened because of investigators leaving and not because they
26 were being forced to leave. Two investigat ors from my interview sample have already resigned from their positions. Both of them were novice investigators with respectively nine months and one year of expe rience at CPID before leaving. At the beginning of my research, the CP ID consisted of two types of units, the night units and the day units. The night units consisted of two five-person teams. Night units did not have to carry cas es and would pass their cases onto a day unit investigator the next morning. The two night units worked separate schedules, except on Tuesdays when their schedules overlapped. The schedul ed hours for the night unit were from 1 pm to midnight, but often they had to work overtime because of cases that require Â“sheltering.Â” The day unit worked from 8 am to 5 pm, but often they also had to work overtime. As I began my observations of the night unit, I noticed that many of the investigators from the day units were still at the CPID building at 9 pm when I arrived. I asked about this during my firs t few observations and was told that it was part of the job. If you could not get your work done during the da y, investigators would stay late in order to finish what needed to be done. Towards the end of my research, the CPID administration made significant changes to the investigatorsÂ’ sh ifts in order to gain more c overage and to alleviate some of the time constraints. As of February 2008, the new schedules for investigators are 8 am-5:30 pm, 11 am-7:30 pm, and 1:30 pm-12 am (midnight), meaning there are now three shifts instead of two. Now there is no difference between the units, workers are responsible for the same duties and maintain the same type and amount of files. The entire division is housed in a buil ding in Plantation County, Florida. As you enter the CPID building through the front lobby, to the left th ere are waiting room chairs
27 and a receptionistÂ’s office with thick glass that separates her from the waiting room. There is no receptionist on duty during the night. As you walk to the right, you see interview rooms and then a large door that requires an electronic badge to open. Behind that door, there is a huge o ffice floor with over 100 cubicles filled with desks and computers. Along all the walls are offices of supervisors of the different units. The supervisors all have offices with doors and ve ry nice wooden desks. There are flat screen televisions on each of the walls surrounding the cubicles. Half of the television screens gives information to the inves tigators (for example Â“Do not leave drug tests in car, heat ruins testing kitsÂ”) and the other half is t uned to the news or the weather channel. All investigators and supervisors wear khaki pants a nd different color long sleeve shirts with an embroidered SheriffÂ’s star ove r their heart. The sh irts are provided by the SheriffÂ’s Office, but employees must purchas e their own khaki pants. The SheriffÂ’s Office also provides a car for each investigat or, which the investigator takes home each day. The agency also provides a gas card for all gasoline purch ases. Many of the investigators thought that this was one of the best benefits of working for the Sheriff. While at DCF, investigators had to use th eir own cars and buy their own gas. The investigators are also given laptops and ce ll phones to use for work purposes. This allows them to conduct work outside the offi ce and at home. However, the ability to work at home can have its drawbacks at times. Overall, the investig ators appear to enjoy the new benefits that have been provided through a change in agency.
28 Emotional Challenges During the course of my research, I observ ed and recorded many different emotional challenges faced by child protective investigat ors. The following issues are two of the biggest emotional challenges that child protective investigators need to manage on a daily basis. The challenges discussed below are case overload and victimization of children. Case Overload. During my observations and inte rviews, one topic continued to resurface: case overload. Many of the investigators I interviewed stated this as one of the top emotional challenges of working in child protection. In addition, as I stated above, I observed numerous investigators working overtim e late into the night in order to finish their paperwork. Mr. Newman explains what he believes is the biggest emotional challenge of his job in the following excerpt. Well, one of the big stressors of this job is the volume. And if youÂ’re not constantly on top of it your case lo ad is going to grow until you are just overwhelmed. If you donÂ’t have a lot of orga nizational skills th en it can bite you because youÂ’re getting a case almost every da y. YouÂ’re getting four to five cases a week, if not more. IÂ’ll say four to prob ablyÂ… four to seven cases a week. SoÂ… Yeah, if youÂ’re not constantly on top of itÂ… (Mr. Newman, Novice) In this example, Mr. Newman is explaining th at the sheer number of cases are one of the biggest stressors of his job. He also explai ns that without organizational skills you will fall behind because you are getting a new case almost every day. Many of the investigators echoed his statemen t about struggling to keep up with the volume of cases that they receive every week. Many of the inve stigators that I interacted with expressed a
29 concern with the abuse hotline investigating a ll calls. They felt that this put too many cases into the system and overl oaded the investigators. In the next example, I discovered that for some investigators the high caseload could outweigh the stress of dealing with the victimization of children. Ms. Freemantle is explaining the emotional challenges of her job. There are my days that probably you coul d ask ninety percent of the floor and theyÂ’ve seen me cry. Most of it is frustration and stress especially when we have high case loads roll in. YouÂ’re getting th ree cases a day, you ju st got back from one and youÂ’ve got to hit it again and go out six more kids, or what have you. In this job it doesnÂ’t tend to be what IÂ’ve seen in terms of abuse or neglect or you know kids being hurt, itÂ’s more just the high intensity, the amount of cases we get, the amount of paperwork that needs to be done, and just th e non-stop kind ofÂ… (Ms. Freemantle, Veteran) Ms. Freemantle explains that her biggest em otional challenge is due to the stress and frustration of dealing with a high caseload. At the end of her statement, Ms. Freemantle explains that, for her, it isnÂ’t the abuse or ne glect of children that is the biggest challenge but instead the amount of cases and paperwork they must complete. However, not all of the investigators that I interviewed echo this, many of them stated that the victimization of children was the biggest em otional challenge they faced. Victimization of Children. Obviously, victimization of ch ildren is what investigators are hired to prevent or stop from happening. Seei ng abuse and victimization of children is a part of their job, but it also puts a large emotional burden on them which they have to manage.
30 In the following excerpt from an interv iew with Mr. Nelson, he discusses his personal experiences with the foster system as well as some of the effects of seeing victimization of children. ItÂ’s [sheltering] very sad. Cause of my pe rsonal history. It is very, very sad when that has to happen because I was in foster care and adopted. I was removed from parents and it brought me to this fiel d so another child does not have to go through what I went through, or my sister s went through. A very tough thing to do but you have to. [Pause] ItÂ’s hard to deal with the emotions at times, especially when you first start out in the field. Af ter a while, nothing fazes you anymore. You can see the nastiest thing and you will just shake your head now and just say I cannot believe Â…. (Mr. Nelson, Veteran) Mr. Nelson begins to answer the question by explaining how his pers onal history led him to this field. He then explains how hard it is to deal with the emotions that come along with seeing the victimization of a child. Inve stigators listed anger, rage, sadness, fear, and guilt as the emotions they often felt when seeing the firsthand effects of abuse in a family. Mr. Nelson here also describes an effect that happe ns to many investigators after being in the field for a number of years, detachment. At th e end of his quote, he states that after a while you can see the abuse and Â“just shake your headÂ” because nothing fazes you anymore. The investigator has become detached in order to protect himself or herself. However, in order to do their job investigators must rema in somewhat invested in helping the child or family. This also can become a challenge that investigators must manage. Ms. Nurse explains how seeing the vic timization of children makes this job different from many others. In her statemen t below, she also echoes Mr. NelsonÂ’s point of detachment as a side effect of seeing so much abuse. Yes, this job is so unlike any other job thatÂ’s out there. You donÂ’t have normal hours, you are dealing with children in pot entially dangerous situations, you are
31 responsible for their safety. My first s upervisor said you canÂ’t take this home, you got to leave it here and you have got to have your life outside of it. It took me a while because I said no I canÂ’t IÂ’m not done. (Ms. Nurse, Novice) Ms. Nurse explains that danger ous situations, which might in flict harm on children, are a part of the job that can be very challenging. Her supervisor inform ed her early on that she needed to learn how to manage this emo tional challenge, and she even told her that Â“she canÂ’t take it home.Â” Ms. Nurse explains that detachment from the job was very hard to learn because she initially saw her job as be ing responsible for the children at all times. In reality, the parents are responsible for thei r childrenÂ’s safety, but novice investigators often feel they must shoulder the load of being responsible for the safety of children who they may have never met before. These are but two emotional challenges th at child protective investigators face in order to complete their duties. There are ot hers but case overload and victimization of children were the challenges that I heard most often from investigators during my research. Now that I have discussed the primary emotional challenges for the investigator, I turn to the various strate gies investigators employ to manage these challenges.
32 STRATEGIES OF MANAGING EMOTION Despite the challenges of the job, many investig ators continue to work as CPIs for many years. Even with extra time and less cases, th is job is extremely challenging. In order to function on a daily basis, investigators devel op strategies to cope with the emotional difficulties of their job. The three different types of strategies I observed were: office based strategies, field based strategies, and pe rsonal strategies. Office based strategies include group humor, practical support and sh aring experiences. Field based strategies include calming down the parent, enlisting th e client, and distancing humor. Personal strategies include accentuating importance and blaming the parent. All investigators that I observed and interviewed used several of these strategies. In the following, I discuss each category and each individua l strategy in more detail. Office Based Strategies Waldron (2000) wrote about the importance of work relationships, stating that relationships with coworkers influence our emo tions more than the things we do at work. Waldron also believed that Â“the dynamics of organizational relationships are among the most frequently cited sources of intense em otionÂ” (66). Maintain ing relationships and treating others at work with respect takes emo tion management. Also, for the worker it is useful to have the understanding that they r eceive from their cowo rkers who are in the trenches with them on a daily basis. Havi ng a place to talk about their problems and
33 receive social support from their peers are wa ys in which individuals can manage their emotions. Shuler and SypherÂ’s (2000) study of a 911 call center also shows how emotional communication helps in building a supportive community. In the case of my research, the CPID workers are still formi ng their community due to an influx of new CPIs and the reorganization of units. I now look at three ways in which investigators manage their emotions at the office w ithin the context of their coworkers. Group Humor. Humor has been found in many studi es to be a strategy of managing emotion. Smith and Kleinman (1989), in their research on emotion management strategies of medical students, found that the students used group humor in order to manage embarrassment or physical discomfort. Another example can be found in Cahill and EgglestonÂ’s (1994) article on how wheel chair users manage emotions in public encounters. In their research, Cahill and Eggleston found that wheelchair users managed their emotions by using humor with others to disarm possibly embarrassing situations. I have found the same strategy to exist among wo rkers in the CPID. Humor is used to manage bad situations, but also to prepare i nvestigators prior to goi ng out on a new case. My first experience with humor came on my first day observing the CPID. I was being introduced to many of the investigator s and one of them, Mr. Nelson, started to joke about some of his peers. I jotted this down in my fiel dnotes and on later visits saw a recurring theme of humor within the unit. During my visits to the CPID, I observed many investigators making numerous jokes and pulling practical jokes on each other before going into the field. I later realized this was how they managed their emotions
34 prior to going out on a case. It also became evident that humor was used after their return to deal with some of the hardships that they encounter ed during the investigation. In the following excerpt, the supervisor and Mr. Nelson exchange humorous comments prior to both Mr. Ne lson and I going out on a case. Ms. Jackson also told Mr. Nelson to do everything Â“by the bookÂ” because I was going to be along. He laughed and states that he Â“always does everythingÂ” by the book. He then joked about how people tell him things about their drug use without him having to drug test them. I nod and laugh even though I had heard this story before. I like Mr. Nelson; he k eeps things funny in the unit. (Field Note IV) The example of the use of humor in the above story helps ease tension in the unit about the cases CPIs receive each night. Mr. Nelson uses exaggeration to keep things light in the midst of a child abuse allegation. I often observed investigators having similar humorous exchanges prior to entering the field. The next example is given to show that humor can take place not only prior to going out on cases but also at the end of the night in order to lighten up the mood and to ground people after handling difficult situations. When Ms. Dumble returned after a few minutes, she showed me her transfer request memo and the memo had the word Â“declinedÂ” scribbled on it. I was shocked and asked Ms. Dumble if they ha d declined her transfer and she laughed and stated that Ms. Jackson was just me ssing around with her. I noticed that Ms. Dumble thought that this was funny coming from Ms. Jackson who was her supervisor. (Field Note I) Ms. Dumble had been planning to be transferre d to another unit becaus e it would give her a more suitable schedule. She then receive d her memo back in her box with the word Â“declinedÂ” scribbled on it. This case of humo r was used to let Ms. Dumble know that her supervisor cared about her and did not want to see her leave. In addition, Ms. Jackson used it as a way to lighten the mood because of Ms. DumbleÂ’s plan of leaving the night
35 unit. This use of humor allows the supervis or a chance to connect with her investigators and relate to them even though sh e may not be on the frontline. Overall, the CPID unit th at I observed used humor on a daily basis. They took time during their shift to play jokes on each ot her, and they even took time to share funny stories about cases they have worked on. On e night, I watched as the supervisor and her unit sat around a computer trying to find out wh at kind of snake she had seen earlier that day on her porch. The group of CPIs went back and forth between discussions of the snake and discussions of an upcoming case they were going to invest igate. Laughter was heard often during my observations, but it was most often used right before someone was leaving for the field. The sense of group humor builds community among investigators, which helps them prepare for and recover fr om the emotional challenges of their field investigations. This use of humor allows investigators to better brace themselves for what they might encounter once they walk out that door: an angry parent, an abused child, or a violent situation. Practical Support. Practical support are the things investigators do for each other in order to help each other manage their emotions. This support can come in different ways, but all practical support is done to back up an investigator who needs help. Lively (2000) introduces the term Â“reciprocal emotion manage mentÂ” in her research of law firms and I observed this concept in action while researching the CPID. Lively concluded that peers helped manage each otherÂ’s emotions by what she termed Â“caretaking.Â” Her concept described peers that would help each other in practical ways in order to manage each othersÂ’ emotions. Colleagues would later help the one person who helped them in order
36 to continue the reciprocal exchange of emotion management. This practical support allows investigators to manage their emotions by gaining support from their peers in very tangible ways. On my second night of observing the ni ght unit, I witnessed the following episode, during which one investigator becam e overwhelmed with the amount of work she was getting and another inve stigator stepped in to help. Ms. Newsome Damn, it looks like I will be sheltering tonight, they arrested the father and there are 5 kids that may need to be picked up. Ms. Darling Well, maybe the deputies will find a relative for them to live with until the dad is out of jail. Ms. Newsome The dad did not plan for any relatives to take care of them, so they will probably need to be sheltered. IÂ’m going to be here until 3:00 am. Ms. Darling IÂ’ll help, send me the risk assessment on my computer and I will fill it out for you and run some of the past history checks. Ms. Newsome Thanks for the help. I am still hoping that they will not need to shelter them. After the conversation, Ms. Darling and Ms. Newsome turn to their respective computers and begin to type away. After a few minutes, Ms. Newsome comes over to Ms. DarlingÂ’s desk and watches as Ms. Darling types up Ms. NewsomeÂ’s risk assessment. (Field Notes II) In this excerpt, Ms. Darling sees that Ms. Newsome is overwhelmed, so she helps her manage her workload by offering to assist w ith the paperwork. Knowing that she has that kind of support allows Ms. Newsome to get he r work done. She can count on the support of her peers if she needs to remove the children. Many of the interviewees stressed how im portant it was that their peers supported them during difficult situations. I mean it really is like a family, ever ybodyÂ’s there to support you if you are ever really stressed out and you do not know how to deal with it. (Ms. Masters, Novice)
37 Here, the interviewee is comparing her unit to a family. Her coworkers are there to support her and help her when she does not kno w how to deal with her emotions. The idea that she has support, much like in a good family, allows her to manage her emotions when she is in situations that she may not know how to handle. The following excerpt from an interview indicates the extreme degree of help that some investigators will offer and perf orm in order to support their peers. Mr. Nelson I was done by about 11:30 pm, then we ended up getting an immediate case out in the western part of the county and I helped a coworker out there to see this mom who was seeing he licopters flying in the sky. She was a mental health issue and in the past, she had fired guns in the house, so... we went there to see what was going on with that case and we had to shelter that baby. Interviewer And that was on your way home? Mr. Nelson That was on my way home. Interviewer You stopp ed on your way home? Mr. Nelson I stopped to help her out, le t her get back and th en I called her with the information. I just speeded it up so she would not be here forever. (Mr. Nelson, Veteran) Mr. Nelson decides that inst ead of going home he would help his colleague by stopping at the house and gathering the needed info rmation for the other investigator. This allowed the other investigator to go back to the office and begin writing up her case using the information that Mr. Nelson provided. The example further shows how important support is, because many of the investigators described a Â“good unitÂ” as one in which each investigator supports the other. Although some investigators did complain that not all workers in every unit supported each other in this way, most of the interviewees, and especially the members of th e unit that I observed, did sh are this type of support. In sum, I observed investigators using pr actical support not only to get their job done, but also to manage emotions. Many inve stigators stated during our interviews that having the practical support of their peers made them feel better about their job. Some
38 investigators also added that this practical support was more than just removing workload but helped them in managing the stress of working in the field. Sharing Experiences. Sharing experiences with other i nvestigators is a strategy that most investigators use to manage their emotions on a daily basis. Being able to share and exchange experiences allows investigators to feel understood. Most investigators have been in similar situations or had common types of experiences that allow them to feel connected to one another. Discussing shared experiences allows investigators to manage their emotions by realizing that their peer s exactly understand exac tly what they are going through. Below is an excerpt from my interview with Ms. Nurse during which I asked her a question regarding how she mana ged her emotions at work. My coworkers, because we all understand what we are going through and the fact that no one case is the same as another, they are all different and everybodyÂ’s just as stressed out as the other, they are a ll overwhelmed and thereÂ’s a great group of people here, everybody really tries to help out. I try to help others out if I can as well. I have gone crazy, we call it PI br eakdowns, it is when you are stressed out to the max, you cannot take one more thing, and you just break down. You start crying and you know you talk it out with wh omever and you realize that this is just one of those moments and you go on. (Ms. Nurse, Novice) Ms. NurseÂ’s example of a PI breakdown is an illustration of sharing experiences. Numerous investigators have gone through a PI breakdown, so they have a common experience (PI breakdowns) they can share and help with, yet people outside of the CPID probably cannot relate to. Sh aring common experiences means being able to talk about the experience, vent about it, or just unders tand that others have gone through this as
39 well. Investigators do not even have to ve rbalize their experiences; just knowing that others have gone through the same thi ng in the past helps them cope. Some investigators use common types of experiences to vent to each other about what is happening to th em during their casework. CPIs will be like Â“I canÂ’t believe what happened todayÂ” or whatever to each other and will vent and use each other to vent off each other. (Ms. Darling, Veteran) The venting that Ms. Darling is speaking of is the verbal izing of a common type of experience with another investigator. Here Ms. Darling discusse s how investigators Â“vent off each otherÂ” in order to deal with the fieldwork and difficulties they experienced during the day. In contrast, there are many people who do not share in these types of experience, and many investigators struggle to gather empat hy from these people in their lives. In the example below Ms. Masters explains how her boyf riend cannot relate to the type of work that she does and how this affects her. ItÂ’s such a rough job. AndÂ… And sometime s I feel like he doesnÂ’t understand how rough it is, so it kind of makes it harder. I mean he doesnÂ’t, you know, understand the stress level. He doesnÂ’tÂ… You know heÂ’ll compare it to his work, and itÂ’s not like IÂ’m trying to say my job is better or my job is more difficult, but thereÂ’s a big difference when youÂ’re res ponsible for peopleÂ’s lives versus doing what he does (business). I mean, itÂ’s justÂ… It Â’s a different kind of feeling. ItÂ’s like a constant weight you have on your s houlders that youÂ’re just hoping nothing happens. (Ms. Masters, Novice) This example provides a stark contrast to the feeling of support that investigators described in the first two examples. In th is excerpt, Ms. Master s explains that her boyfriend cannot relate to her type of j ob, because he does not have the sort of experiences that she shares w ith her peers. Things like being yelled at by a parent, receiving threatening voicemails and removing a child from a home are experiences that
40 her boyfriend is not able to unde rstand. These difficult experi ences allow investigators to connect with each other. However, they also help them deal with their emotions by understanding that there is someone else who has to deal with similar emotions also. The above strategies can be observed wh en investigators are in the office and have their peers around to deal with their emotions. However, many times, investigators must deal with challenges w ithout their peers being around. When investigators are in the field, they often have to manage feelings of anger, guilt, sadness, and grief quickly in order to complete their tasks. The next section therefore focuse s on how investigators manage their emotions while interacting with clients in the field. Field Based Strategies In the field, their clients are bot h children and parents, and in vestigators must be able to interact with both in order to complete their case. One of the biggest challenges investigators experience is dealing with c lients, especially pa rents that are being investigated. In ChinÂ’s (2000) research of parents and children, she observed how parents managed the emotions of their children in order for them to succeed on a high school preparatory test. In a similar manner, investigators manage the parentsÂ’ emotions in order to succeed at their own job. Invest igators manage the emotions of parents in order to gain the cooperation a nd assistance they need to comp lete their tasks. Managing the emotions of the parent allows the inve stigator to indirec tly manage their own emotions. This point was made repeatedly in my interviews with investigators. When I asked them how they managed their own emotions in the field, many responded by
41 describing the following strategies. The stra tegies I discuss are calming down the parent, enlisting the client, a nd distancing humor. Calming Down the Parent. When investigators knock on a door to begin an investigation, the parents are often upset a nd agitated about the accusations. Calming down the parent is essentially an attempt by investigators to de-escalate the situation with the parent. They attempt to do this in differe nt ways, but the overall goal is to keep the parent from escalati ng the situation. In the following example, Ms. Nurse explains how she usually deals with an upset parent during a normal investigation. I usually just try to calm them down a nd always try to have them look at the positive point. The fact that my explanation to her was to think of this as your last chance, your lucky day, I just try to have them to look at the positive. They want to know who the person is who reported them, I cannot tell them that just that there is someone out there who is trying to look out for the safety of your child and just wants to make sure that your childÂ’s safe. Sometimes that works and sometimes it does not. They start throwing names out of who they think it is but for the most part, I just console them. I ta lk to them, as I would want them to talk to me. Usually it works. (Ms. Nurse, Novice) In the above example, Ms. Nurse, reassures the parent that there are positive sides to this investigation and uses that reassurance as a way to calm down the client. At the end of her statement, she describes how she treats the parents with respect in order to gain their cooperation. The outcome of calming down the parent is useful in itself, but it also helps in furthering the investigation. By managing th e parentÂ’s emotions, the investigator can
42 build a rapport with the parents that, as we see in the next exampl e, can help with the investigation. I mean I had one woman who was extremely upset to see me; you know, cursing me out, everything else. However, once I pointed out that I was not there to accuse her of anything and this began to calm her down. I mean, now she is perfectly fine with me, she is cooperati ng one hundred percent. (Ms. Masters, Novice) In this example, the investig ator has managed a client who was upset and cursed her out, and calmed her down by de-escalating the situation and by building a productive relationship. Even though the investig ator may be upset, Ms. Masters keeps a professional demeanor in order to accomplis h her job. By calming down the parent she has also managed her own emotions. Now the investigator has a parent who is cooperating Â“one hundred percentÂ” with the investigation and is no longer an obstacle. Therefore, the investigator can complete the ca se with less hassle and thus keep his or her caseload manageable. In the final example, an investigator, Ms. Gunn, shares a story about a client who was not angry but instead overcome with sadne ss. Ms. Gunn manages the emotion of the client in a different way than we have seen above. When we told her we were sheltering th e kids, she lost it to the point where she collapsed on the ground and was very emo tional, obviously. I could tell she loved her kids. I could tell she would not do a nything intentionally to hurt her kids. Unfortunately, the circumstances led to us having to do this. However, we assured her thatÂ… Or I assured herÂ… I sat down with her. I literally sat with her on a curb for about twenty minutes and talked to her and told her that weÂ’re going to do everything we can to makeÂ…make things ri ght. Not to make this right, but to make things right. Help her learn to make better choices, better decisions, get her in a little bit bette r place both physically and menta lly, that type of thing. (Ms. Gunn, Novice)
43 Here, Ms. Gunn actually describe s taking the time to sit on the curb with her client to give her a bigger picture of wh at is happening. She points out to the mother that she can make changes in her life that can help her and he r children. In this case, the client is not upset at the investigator, but upset about what is happeni ng to her children. Ms. Gunn handles this by not only calming the client down, but also rea ssuring her of changes that can be made in order to get to a Â“better place.Â” Investigators routinely stated during my interviews that their ability to de-escalate a parent allowed them to manage their own emotions and to get their work done more easily. Overall, the strategy of calming down th e parent allows the worker to maintain a professional stature and gain c ooperation with the parent. It also allows the investigator to manage any anger or empathy they feel towards the parent in an appropriate way. Enlisting the Client. Investigators who use enlisting the client as a strategy are trying to make the client a part of the solution to the problem in order to manage their own emotions. In order to do this, investigators try to gain the coopera tion of the client. In my first example, Ms. Masters shows how an investigator stresses the importance of the parent cooperating. Her e xplanation is in response to an interview question about how she manages the emotion of her clients. Well, I kind of just pretty mu ch tried to talk to her (the parent) and told her, look, I know you are upset but you know I have to do this. This is part of my job. We always tell them it is just allegations. It does not mean that we are accusing you, that you are a bad parent or that you are doing this. We are here to prove whether it is true. So the sooner you cooperate with me and give me the information I need, the sooner we can get this ta ken care of. (Ms. Masters, Novice)
44 The investigator tells the parent that without her cooperation th is is going to take longer to investigate. In this case, Ms. Masters is attempting to gain the cooperation of the client in order to gain access to fu rther information. This allows Ms. Masters to manage the anger of the parent, while she also manages her own emotions of anger and guilt. She is not accusing the parent; she is only ther e to help, but only if they cooperate. The next example of this strategy again us es the parents as a way to manage the emotion of the situation but here the investigator is also tryi ng to manage the emotions of the children. Ms. Agent Â“works upÂ” the pa rent and uses her to help smooth out the situation for the children. By gaining the help of the parent, inves tigators no longer feel that they are doing something Â“badÂ” and theref ore are managing their emotions as well. In the following example, Ms. Agent answer ed a question about how she handles the emotions of a child and a parent when she is going to remove the child. This was her response when asked for an example of what she would say to a parent. I want to ask you for a big favor. I want you to be strong for me and I want you to call your kids over here and let them kno w. Help them pack and let them know because it is less traumatizing for the child ren. Let them know that they are going to go away for a while. I usually try a relativ e, try to stay with a relative, that they are going to go away for a while, that they are going to stay with uncle whatever and until you get better in the meantim e youÂ’re going to work on your case plan. You are going to get a job, a place for the kids, you are going to stay off drugs, and you are going to do better. While the ki ds are not here, you are going to get better, so you can get these kids back. (Ms. Agent, Veteran) The investigator stresses th e importance of the parent reassuring the child, but also stresses the importance of the parent getti ng their life back on track by following a strict case plan. Therefore, the investigator is ma naging the feelings of the client by enlisting him or her to help in correcting the problem.
45 In the following example, the same invest igator, Ms. Agent, describes using the same strategy, however this time with a child directly. Okay, this is what I do, before we even get in the car, when we start packing. I say I want you to listen I have something that I have to tell you and then they come in and like face me and then I say a nd they are like crying and all upset. I say that I do not want you to be ups et; I know that you are because you are going to be away from your mom, but you are still going to be seeing your mommy. You are still going to have visits wi th your mommy and your mommy and your daddy need to get better. While they get better, you can come back with them and you are going to stay with uncle whatever and do you like him, and they say yes, I like the uncle. I said okay, I am going to go talk to him right now and see when I can take you to his house. (Ms. Agent, Veteran) Here the investigator is trying to enlist the child into the removal, even asking if they want to stay with their uncle. Despite the fact that the childÂ’s opinion does not matter in most investigations, the invest igator uses this strategy to involve the child and give him or her sense of control in a di fficult situation. The investigator is telling the child that he or she is helping the parent get better by givi ng them some time. This enlists the child in a common goal, the unification of the family in a better place in the future. By doing this, investigators are also managing their ow n emotions of guilt and sympathy. Most of my respondents stated that when they could enli st a parent or a child in handling a case it allowed them to feel better about what they had to do. Distancing Humor. In the section in which I discussed office based strategies I gave examples of the use of humor among investigat ors with the goal of connecting with each other and dealing with the pre ssures of the job. However, in the following examples, I will describe how humor is used to deal with clients who are upset with the investigators.
46 Investigators use this strategy to distance themselves from the reality of the situation, similar to the medical students in Smith and KleinmansÂ’ article (1989). In the first example, Ms. Freemantle is answering a question about clients being upset with her. I have not had a huge amount [of clients upset with her]. As you can probably tell, I use humor to fight off many things So I really do enjoy when people say we manage it, you know you have helped me. It does make me feel good. However, on the opposite end, I do get aggravated when I am called a Â“bitchÂ” or whatever they want to call me. I tend to make a joke of it. I will laugh it off and try to think it is funny. It does bother me. I do not want people to think I am an ass when I go out to their house. (Ms. Freemantle, Veteran) Ms. Freemantle is very aware of her stra tegy of using humor to diffuse difficult situations. She also refers to the situati on as Â“botheringÂ” and de scribes how using humor can make her feel better about it. No tice though the last statement Ms. Freemantle makes, which is the worry that the client will see her in a negative way. She feels a need to manage how clients see her and uses joke s or funny retorts as a way to do that. By using humor, the investigator manages her own emotions and is able to maintain a professional, positive exterior that can influence how a parent may see her. In the second example, we see an investigator, Ms. Gunn, who actually uses distancing humor in an interaction with a client in order to refute the parentÂ’s claim. When asked to give an example of an ir ate parent, she responded with the following excerpt. I recently had a grandmother who stood on her porch and screame d. At the top of her lungs, something to the effect of you know do I look like a crack head, or whatever. She screamed at me Â“Well IÂ’m not rich like you and I donÂ’tÂ”Â… You know Â… Â“My house isnÂ’t as clean and nice as yours.Â” I am like going, Â“oh, you do not knowÂ”. HehÂ…(laughte r) (Ms. Gunn, Novice)
47 Her response to the client that her house is not as clean as she might think allows the investigator to manage her immediate guilt of being accused of superiority. Investigators often stated they were accused by parents becaus e of their job status they were superior. Both of the above examples show how distanci ng humor can be used to manage feelings of anger and guilt in interactions. In the cases that I observed, this strategy was interactive in nature. This so rt of humor was expressed to pa rents, officers, and even me in order to help investigators manage any feelings that could lead to inappropriate behavior. In sum, the investigators in the field do not always have peer support and then resort to using the strategies discussed above. I believe that they us e these strategies to manage their own emotions by managing the emotions of others. This group of strategies is similar to the one found in LivelyÂ’s article in whic h she introduced the idea of Â“reciprocal emotion management.Â” By calmi ng down the parent, enlis ting the client, and using distancing humor investig ators are easing the challenges of their job and therefore managing their own emotions. Next, I discuss personal strategies th at are not directly found in the field or in the office, but inst ead found in the ways in which investigators frame handle challenges on their own, often away from work. Personal Strategies The final set of strategies that I found in my research was a group of personal techniques that include accentuating importance and blami ng the parent. These strategies are used by investigators to detach themselves from the responsibility of removing children from their families. Personal strategies used by investigators help to manage the guilt, anger,
48 doubt, and other feelings that occur when they are removing children and breaking up families. This group of strategies is a t ype of Â“deep actingÂ” (Hochschild, 1983). They are not strategies inve stigators employ in specific cont exts and situati ons, but instead become part of their general beliefs and justif ications that allow them to do their job. Accentuating Importance. Many of the investigators explained to me that despite the challenges of the job, they continue to do th e work because it can change lives. This thinking is very similar to a strategy di scussed in a study of how medical students managed their emotions (Smith and Kleinm an, 1989). By focusing on the bigger goal of helping children, investigators manage to deal with the negative aspects of their work. In the following interview excerpt, Ms. Fr eemantle explains how she deals with those negative aspects. We can make a difference if it is don e the right way. If everybody can work together and do it the right way, we can ma ke a difference in some of these kidsÂ’ lives. To see the kids come in and actua lly smile and be happy with us, you know with people they do not know and it makes me feel like, okay, maybe there is a reason why we brought them here. You know there is a reason why we took them from where they are and stuff like that, soÂ… I do like the kids. (Ms. Freemantle, Veteran) In this example, Ms. Freemantle is looking at the larger picture of what she does for a living. She takes cues from the children and feels like she is doing the right thing. Accentuating importance reinforces her belief that what she is doing is valid. This allows the investigator to feel like they are doing the right thing, even if they may feel guilty about breaking up families, at least temporaril y. Investigators repor ted feeling guilty at times because of the disturbance that an inve stigation can cause for a family. Also, when
49 they remove children they feel guilty because the child is displaced and may end up in a worse situation (foster care). The next example is similar in that it describes a positive response from a child but takes the strategy of accentuating importance one step further. Mr. Rocky explains what happens sometimes when he is sheltering a child. When out on a case, [I am]saving the life of a child or child ren. I picked up a case and was driving back to the office, there are many times kids have asked me can you take me home. (Mr. Rocky, Veteran) Mr. Rocky explains how a child asking to go home with him lets him know that he has made the right choice and probably saved th is childÂ’s life. Many investigators who I interviewed stated that when a child seems happy it expresses to them that they are doing the right thing. Accentuating importance, or the ability to deflect the negative and focus on positive aspects of the work, can be seen throughout the interviews that I conducted. Ms. Gunn who is answering my question Â“how do you manage the challenges of your jobÂ” gave the next example. She deep ly believes that her job is important and argues that investigators are just human and can make mistakes. The fact that I know that what we do is important. To me it isÂ…I will not say it is THE most important job in the world, it is absolutely one of the most important jobs in the world. The fact that we do it for their betterment, umÂ… we make mistakes. We are human. You know, we do remove kids and maybe something else could have been done or something like that but I know, I know, I know, I know in my heart and in my head that we do, what we do for those children. There are days that I have to go walk around the block. I go to the gym and I will beat the heck out of a punching bag, or wh atever. But because I know that is why we do what we do, [that] is how I get through it. (Ms. Gunn, Novice) Here, Ms. Gunn, a novice, discusses the importance of her job in a way that is similar to the previous examples. She states that in he r heart and in her head she knows that what she and her colleagues are doing for potentially a bused children is in their best interest.
50 My final example shows that investigat ors not only think abou t the importance of the job, but also about its re wards. Ms. Master says: I would say you know the good things justÂ…a s I said, the people that I get to work with. I mean itÂ’s nice to see when you actually get to help families because every now and then you know you getÂ…you get to help families, you see the positive you know impact you had on their liv es so thatÂ’s nice. It is rewarding. (Ms. Masters, Novice) Notice in the example that Ms. Masters is accentuating the im portance of the job, but also that she feels that it is rewarding when she has an impact on a childÂ’s or a familyÂ’s life. Accentuating importance is a way for investigators to manage the negative aspects of their job by not focusing on cases that may not have Â“happy endings.Â” This last example shows how an investigator may handle dozen s of negative cases a month but manages to best remember a couple of good cases. Stre ssing the importance of those cases allows them to manage their emotions in a way that al lows them to continue their work. In sum, the strategy of accentuating importance allows investigators to believe their job is important and therefore convinces them that what they are doing is right. This allows the investigator to look past the guilt, anger, sadness, and other emotions that he or she is dealing with on a day-to-day basis. The beli ef that the parent is at fault is another strategy investigators employ to ma nage the emotional challenges. Blaming the Parent. Â“Blaming the parentÂ” is a strategy of managing emotion that I understood after reading Ar lukeÂ’s (1994) article Managing Emotions in an Animal Shelter In his study, Arluke describes animal shelter workers who blame the owners for their petsÂ’ deaths when the workers have to euthanize them. I f ound a similar strategy
51 among child protection investigator s. At times, they seem to blame the parent in order to manage their own negative emotions wh en having to take children away. In the example below, Ms. Freemantle is answering my question regarding how she deals with upset children. Yeah. I use the same line for every child that I take into care. It is just Â‘Your mom or your dad has something they need to work on. They cannot work on it with you there. They cannot focus on it with you ther e. It is not because they do not love you. It is not because they do not want you. It Â’s because they have to fix that so itÂ’s safe for you.Â’ (Ms. Freemantle, Veteran) Ms. Freemantle describes a situation in whic h a child is upset because they are being removed from the home. Ms. Freemantle ma nages her own emotion about the removal by blaming the parent for the situation. This allows the investigator to remove herself from the blame, because the removal is not her fault. The investigator instead focuses on the problem with the parent even though she is the one w ho is removing the child from the home. The next example illustrates Mr. RockyÂ’s opinion of why children are found in bad situations. The poor judgment of the people, like a mom, the mother meeting somebody on the street, and letting that person in to the house, not even checking the background history, donÂ’t even know the last names of the people, itÂ’s sickening you know. I do not know why people do that. (Mr. Rocky, Veteran) Mr. Rocky is blaming the mother for meeti ng a man on the street and bringing him into her home without getting to know him better. Th e investigator feels that this endangers the child. Therefore, if the investigator ha s to remove the child, then the blame can be put on the parent based on their poor d ecision-making. Again, this allows the investigator to justify the decision to remove the child, and explains why it is okay to
52 investigate families based on hotline calls. If it is the parentÂ’s poor decisions that cause this to happen, then I do not have to feel any guilt about removing the child or about breaking up the family. Mr. Newman, a novice investigator, stated during his interview that he feels no sympathy for the parent but instead emphasized th at he gets upset at them. He describes a case in which he had no sympathy for a mo ther who was using drugs and now wanted a second chance with her child. This type of thinking allows Mr. Newman to distance himself from the situation and turn the focus and blame on the parent. My final example in this section illust rates just how far this blame can go. It depicts Ms. FreemantleÂ’s frustration with an upset parent about a removal. The mom of the infants finally showed up. She had been picked up from work and came down. I was sheltering the child ren. I did not shelter the older kids, they had a father that was not offending a nd safe, and so they went with him. I did shelter the babies and mom just ke pt Â…got really sobby and weepy and Â‘We didnÂ’t do anything and we didnÂ’ t know.Â’ I justÂ… I got ve ry frustrated with her. You should know. It is your job to know These are your kids. (Ms. Freemantle, Veteran) Ms. Freemantle explains how frustrated she was with a mother who she had been trying to help but was unable to get any cooperation from in the past. This rationalization is a perfect strategy to manage the investigato rÂ’s emotions upon having to remove a child because the parents Â“forceÂ” the CPI investigatorÂ’s actions. This is like the pet shelter worker that does not want to euthanize any animals (Arluke, 1998). This strategy allows the investigator to personally detach from th e responsibility of the childÂ’s removal. In addition, in the example, Ms. Freemantle expr esses her frustration by stating that the mother Â“should knowÂ” how to take care of her kids and that it is the motherÂ’s Â“jobÂ” to
53 know. This rationalization allows her to pl ace the cause of the problems squarely on the back of the mother. In conclusion, investigators manage th e emotional challenges of their job through the strategies I described in this analysis. Wh ether they are in the o ffice, in the field, or on their own, investigators have strategies to stay on the job and to deal with their feelings. First, I examined the role of peers in the investigatorsÂ’ o ffice based strategies for managing emotion. I found that that practical support and group humor were two activities that allowed investigators to manage their emotions in a productive way. I also found that sharing experiences was a powerful way of coping with the frustrations associated with being an inve stigator. Second, I examined the role of clients in the investigatorsÂ’ field based stra tegies of managing emotion. I found that calming down the parent and enlisting the client were two ways in which investigators manage the emotions of others, as well as their ow n. I also found that investigat ors distanced themselves from emotions such as anger by using humor as a st rategy in the field. Finally, I examined the role of self in the investigatorsÂ’ personal strategy of managing emotion. I found that in order to deal with emotions such as guilt, anger and sadness investigators often reminded themselves of the larger purpose of their wor k. Investigators also blame the parent for what they have to do to the children who often resist separation, even from clearly abusive parents. I believe that these last strategies are a fo rm of Â“deep actingÂ” similar to what Hochschild (1983)discovered people do in their personal lives. My analysis includes examples of solitary and interactive emotion management strategies that allow investigators to maintain their professional demeanor and complete their duties. My examples also describe forms of Â“surfaceÂ” and Â“deepÂ” acting. Finally,
54 my analysis provided examples of Â“recipro cal emotion managementÂ” (Lively, 2000) thus highlighting another concept that has been developed in previ ous research in this area.
55 DISCUSSION Child protective investigators have a very important responsibili ty. Their job is to protect children from parents and guardians who do not treat them well, or who might even abuse them. While fulfilling this duty, investig ators face numerous challenges. These challenges include case overload, victimizati on of children, feelings of anger, guilt, depression, anxiety, and many more. Investigat ors have developed a range of strategies to help overcome these challenges. My primary research question was to di scover how child protective investigators manage the emotions associated with thei r job. My initial id ea was that veteran investigators know and use stra tegies which novice investigat ors not yet know how to use. However, I found that both novice and vete ran investigators use similar strategies. I believe that novice investigators learn these strategies during the mentoring stage of training, which occurs after they have co mpleted the classroom training. During the mentoring stage, novice investig ators are paired with a vete ran investigator and work on several cases together. Duri ng this phase, some of the strategies are passed down knowingly and unknowingly to the novice investig ator. If the newcomers are able to implement them successfully in their work then they are likely to become veteran investigators. I did not find any noticeable differences in my interviews or my observations regarding strategies used by vete ran and novice. Therefore, I believe I have found strategies that senior investigators ha ve adapted and alrea dy successfully passed down to novice investigators.
56 I originally hypothesized th at investigators mainly manage their emotions through a network of their peers. I was correct in fi nding office-based strategies, but I also found other important areas and stra tegies of managing feelings Field based strategy and personal strategy were two strate gies that I did not anticipa te to find when I wrote my original proposal. However, the use of fi eld based and personal strategies is very important for an investigatorÂ’s ability to mana ge his or her emotions. Since investigators do not always have access to their peers, th ese other strategies are part of how they manage their work on a daily basis. I believ e that investigators are managing the emotion of their clients in order to manage their own emotions. All of my respondents answered the question of how they managed the emoti ons of their job by describing how they deescalated a situation, or th ey calmed down a client, in order to manage their own emotions. This management style allows investigators to remain professional and appropriate even though the situation may be difficult. As explained, my research is limited to the Plantation County CPID. This study cannot be used to draw conclusi ons about other CPI Divisions in the State of Florida or in the U.S. However, the strategies I found c ould be further investig ated to find out how they are implemented and passed down in ot her CPI units, and in different institutional and regional contexts. My research combined interviews and observations with investigators in the office and in the field. My goal was to better understand the experien ces of investigators and to understand how many of them managed to continue to work in this demanding job. If I could go back and change something about my research, I would try to observe all of my respondents in the field prior to intervie wing them. This would allow me to observe
57 first hand some of the strategies before aski ng investigators about wh at they do and about how they view their work. S eeing some of my respondents in the field was useful, but I believe observing all respondents would have given me clearer picture earlier in my analysis. Further research should explore the longterm emotional effects of being an investigator. It would be interesting to investigate any long-range emotional problems veteran investigators may experience due to performing high amounts of emotion work on the job. Three of my respondents reporte d having nightmares a bout their job since becoming child protective investigators. Other effects such as depression, anxiety, marital problems, and health problems would also need to be investigated more closely in veteran investigators. In addition, we need to learn mo re about how mentoring and training can play a role in ma king investigators successful in performing their job duties. We need to focus more clearly on the traini ng aspects of CPIs. Many of my respondents reported that their state certif ication did not prepar e them for the challenges associated with completing cases. Studies on the value of classroom training versus in the field mentoring could be fruitful avenues of future research. Overall, the Plantation CPID provides a n eeded service for the county, and despite the many numerous challenges, the division con tinues to train new investigators monthly. I believe that in order to alleviate some of the existing CPID turnover the Plantation County SheriffÂ’s Office should focus more st rongly on training and support. Adding more time to the mentoring process would allo w veteran investigators to spend more time with novice investigators and this would he lp them with passing along the different strategies found in this study. The need for more administrative support for investigators
58 was a recurring topic in my interviews as well. Investigators often felt that, outside of their unit, there was little support from the administration. The importance of community for investigators is undoubtedly seen in the strategies discovered in this research. Therefore, administrators should place more emphasis on exercises and strategies that build community in order to retain more workers and improve outcomes. These and other policy changes would help investigator s in managing their emotions and therefore help them do their job, which is needed very much to keep our community and children safe. There are many problems in the ch ild protection system, however without investigators and their strategies of stayi ng on the job many more children would suffer.
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63 Appendix A: Overview of Participants Participants Gender Age Race or Ethnicity Major in College Time as Investigator Novice or Veteran Mr. Newman Male 38 Caucasian History 6 months Novice Ms. Masters Female 24 Caucasian Criminology6 months Novice Ms. Gunn Female 37 Caucasian Criminology8 months Novice Mr. Innes Male 30 Caucasian Criminal Justice 9 months Novice Ms. Nurse Female 27 Caucasian Criminal Justice 1 year Novice Ms. Agent Female 45 Hispanic (Puerto Rican) Business 2 years and 4 months Veteran Ms. Darling Female 25 Caucasian Sociology 2 years and 6 months Veteran Ms. Freemantle Female 33 Caucasian Criminal Justice (MA) 3 years Veteran Mr. Nelson Male 40 Caucasian Criminal Justice 6 years Veteran Mr. Rocky Male 50 Asian (Indian) Social Work (MSW) 12 years Veteran
64 Appendix B: Interview Guideline Background Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? (i.e. where and how you grew up and about your work history) What is your age? What is your race/ethnicity? What type of degree/education do you have? What kind of work did you do before starting this job? Job How did you hear about this job? Can you tell me the story of how you got this job? What did you expect from this job in the beginning? Is the job different from what you expected? If yes, how so? What do you like about this job? What do you dislike/what is difficult? Can you give me some examples of good/bad things about this job? What exactly is your job about, what do you do? Can you walk me through a typical day at work? What did you do yesterday? (from start to finish) (Last week if yesterday was not typical) What was easy/difficult, what did you like/dislike about your work yesterday? Emotions and Relationships How are your interactions with clients? (parents/children/foster parents) Do you ever have any problems? Do they ever become upset? What do you do in these situations? Where did you learn these techniques? How does that make you feel? How is your relationship with other PIÂ’s? Do you ever have any problems? Do they ever become upset? What do you do in these situations? Where did you learn these techniques? How does that make you feel? How is your relationship with supervisors? Do you ever have any problems? What do you do to relax after work is over?
65 Appendix B (Continued) Miscellaneous What are your future plans, career wise? Any specific plans? Is there anything else you would like to share about your work? Do you have any questions about my study? Is there anything you would like to know about me?
66 Appendix C: Child Protective Investigator Job Description Knowledge Skills and Abilities: Considerable knowledge of the theories and practices used in child protection and family support. Working knowledge of federal, state and lo cal laws governing child protection. Working knowledge of professional ethics re lated to child protection investigations. Working knowledge of federal, state, county and community social service programs available for child protection and family support. Working knowledge of investigative techniques. Working knowledge of court procedures related to child protection proceedings. Ability to collect, organize, and evaluate in formation and develop logical conclusions. Ability to interview children and adults to determine the validity of allegations. Ability to apply crisis intervention techniques. Ability to maintain composure during court testimony and cross examination. Ability to work effectively with others. Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Ability to work under stressful conditions. Ability to handle confidential information. Ability to work nights, weekends and holidays. Ability to use a computer and related software. Ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Minimum Qualifications: Graduation from an accredited four year degree granting college or university; and One year of experience invest igating child abuse allegations; assessing client's needs and eligibility for social services, community services, legal or medical services; or counseling clients; and Possession of a valid State of Florid a Child Protection Professional Certification; and Possession of a valid Driver License. OR An Associate's Degree from an accredited college or university; and Two years of experience investigating child ab use allegations; assessing client's needs and eligibility for social services, community services, legal or medical services; or counseling clients; and Possession of a valid State of Florida Child Protection Professional Certification; and Possession of a valid Driver License. OR Graduation from high school or po ssession of a GED Certificate; and Four years of experience investigating child ab use allegations; assessing client's needs and eligibility for social services, community services, legal or medical services; or counseling clients; andPossession of a valid State of Florid a Child Protection Professional Certification; and Possession of a valid Driver License.
67 Appendix C (Continued) OR Successful completion of the Sheriff's Office Training Program; and Possession of a valid State of Florida Child Protection Professional Certification; and Possession of a valid Driver License. (Plantation County Civil Service Board Website, 2008)