A terrible case like Baby P brings out the mob-wielding-flaming-torches hate in us. Well it does in me. My thoughts swing between musing that you never see a newspaper headline saying: Prompt Intervention of Social Worker Saves Child!!! or Long Term Support Keeps Vulnerable Family Together. Then they swing back to Anyone Who Wouldn’t Look Out of Place on the Jeremy Kyle Show Should be Fucking Sterilised.
There’s a reasoned and thoughtful response in the Guardian that flies in the face of the understandable baying for blood and reprisals. Ian Johnston Chief Executive of The British Association of Social Workers points out that “many of our critics would not dream of going into the situations with which we deal.”
He is right of course. I couldn’t imagine going into a freezing house, the boyfriend screaming abuse at me, dogs barking, the toddler has just wet the bed and there’s no washing machine. All credit to them for the impossible job social workers do. And yet . . .SIXTY VISITS. Did nobody pick the child up? Or draw conclusions when he was cared for outside the home and his ‘clumsiness’ suddenly stopped as did the injuries?
But then again, you need life experience to know these things. Maybe you need older social workers. Better paid social workers. We are a culture that romanticises and venerates those who work with the poor, the sick and the young, but we don’t actually believe in paying them a decent wage. No wonder teachers are crushed with stress. And social workers buckling under impossible case loads. I just can’t stop thinking about it.