Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Social workers aren't evil after all? Who knew?

There's some sickeningly cynical back tracking in today's Sun leader:

SOCIAL workers must sometimes wonder why they bother getting out of bed some days... it sure ain't for the money.

They are vilified for horrific cases like Baby Peter - where criticism is justified. But for every case of child cruelty there are many more where timely intervention has brought hope without headlines.

Wait a minute, is the Sun actually being critical of itself for the first time ever? No, of course it isn't: even though it inadvertently admits that it vilified those involved in the Baby P case, its criticism was "justified".

It's worth recalling a letter sent by a blogger on the Community Care forum to the Sun, which outlined their more than legitimate concerns about the paper's coverage:

This pursuit was unnecessary - Ward will be investigated in the usual way - and it marred the whole profession. It alienated talented social workers nationwide. Since your campaign, evidence has already begun to emerge from our readers and elsewhere that some social workers have decided to stop practising and vacancy rates in London are approaching crisis levels. It is also likely to discourage bright students from entering the profession, undermining efforts to recruit much-needed social workers into children's services.

The Sun more than helped to create the current crisis, and in the bargain also nearly, although indirectly, caused both Maria Ward and Sharon Shoesmith to consider suicide. Now though the Sun is going to make everything right again:

The fact is there are too few trained social workers - many risking danger on doorsteps where even the police fear to tread.

So The Sun is backing movie and pop stars like Samantha Morton and Goldie in their campaign to recruit 5,000 new staff.

If we want to help vulnerable children, we need the right people to do the job.

Jolly good: now that movie and pop stars on the case the Sun has a cause it can get behind. If you want to help vulnerable children, you also might not want to vilify social workers as a whole as the paper did, and you also might not want bring the mob down on those who fail to save a child: some parents will always be determined to hurt or even kill those in their care, regardless of how closely monitored they are. You also might not want to splash them on the front page of your newspaper when you think they might have fathered a child, but perhaps we should let the Sun learn one thing at a time.

(P.S. Yesterday was Dominic Mohan's first "official" day as the paper's new editor. Is the above perhaps a dig at dear old Rebekah that she perhaps went too far in her helming of the Baby P campaign?)

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