Lazy journalism that harms social workers – The Guardian

The Guardian headline on 6 September read “Social workers missed signs to save toddler stamped to death by mother” and the BBC News at Ten on 5 September reported “A serious case review says social workers failed to spot signs that she was being abused”. However, the body of both reports showed that all the agencies involved in this desperately sad story failed to spot the signs and, in particular, to liaise effectively with each other. Tragically, this is an often-repeated set of failings, but this lazy headline-making contributes to a public belief that it’s always the social workers who get it so damagingly wrong.

I make this point not just as a retired social worker who is enormously proud of the effective work that happens almost all the time, but as someone who believes that the chances of recruiting good people to this tremendously complex and challenging profession are diminished by their regular portrayal as foolish and incompetent. Oh, and can interviewers please stop asking social work leaders if they will guarantee that this will never happen again? Of course they can’t and no one who understands anything about child abuse would.
Malcolm Pim
Aylsham, Norfolk

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