Child Protection for the Autistic Child - A Resource
"moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity."
It sometimes seems as though policymakers have given up on anything with the word ‘social’ in it. Social justice, social responsibility, social mobility – even ‘society’ itself seems to have been jettisoned in pursuit of something or other that matters to goodness knows who or why. (Think the 'lovely Toby Young' and ...)
If those that control the state have no interest in social justice then that is a problem for us all but for the vulnerable who depend on the support of services for example to help with poor health, addiction, housing or violence as just some examples, it can be a matter of life and death. These difficulties are not confined to people in poverty but people with financial resources have more options available to them to address their difficulties.
Social workers have to deliver policies on the ground and sometimes they (have to) do things that are not very nice for all sorts of complex reasons. Some do not seem to understand why, to many vulnerable people, they are seen as the 'family police,' the last people you would willingly invite into your home if you had a choice. I believe, to use an analogy, if you hold a bag of sweeties in one hand while holding a big stick in the other, you are always going to have a problem gaining trust particularly when people have felt the weight of the stick you carry on their back already. I'm sorry if social workers find this an offensive analogy but it is not intended to be, just to convey the power social workers exercise on behalf of the State. The answer for social workers, I believe, is to be upfront and trustworthy about what can do and are doing and to deliver on any promises made recognising the humanity of the people being helped. It is a given that social workers should never misuse their power.
Most family and children’s social workers call themselves children’s social workers and that is a clue to another problem from a parent’s perspective – training is around spotting parental deficits and there seems to be little in the way of tools to help when there might be an unrelated problem affecting a family.
The system social workers work within seems to place little value on families – there appears to be no statutory responsibilities to families, only children. Social workers might as well say ‘We’ve come for the child, thank you very much and goodbye’.
I’ve made difficult decisions in my life and I’ve had to live with the consequences. I wonder if social workers were asked ‘’What keeps you awake at night?’’ how often the answer would be ‘’The fear that I failed to protect a child that needed protection’’. I’m guessing fear that ‘’I removed a child from a family causing harm to all concerned’’ is lower down the list of concerns for many.
For me, that is a problem and if it comes to that I would’ent recommend making decisions based on fears but instead on evidence. That is just an observation but it is not unrelated to social justice. It is an unequal battle between the State and a family that needs support where there is no support for them. I believe social workers should hold that thought at the forefront of their mind along with all other concerns – let your ethics, not your fears guide you.