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Tuesday 31 January 2012

Silence Of The Damned

There is no occupation more beloved of the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre than that of social worker. This has been an opportunity for the Vagina Monologue and his shock troops to play both sides of the field, beating up on local authorities, law enforcement agencies, judges and “do-gooders” in order to keep their readers frightened and buying their copy.

Thus ranting Robert Lefever can use one case to conclude “The Welfare State is a sham”, Dominique Jackson can accuse social workers ofhating adoption” (while just happening to mention the Baby Peter case), the death of a baby girl can be dumped on social workers, and the profession can be smeared as predatory child snatchers bent on breaking up families.

But so far the Mail has been silent on last night’s BBC2 documentary Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t, the first in a short series following social workers in the city of Bristol. Here, rather than the Dacre method of dispensing lashings of 20/20 hindsight, we saw the reality of a family unable to cope with their 3-year old son, and the dilemma facing their social worker.

The child’s father was hostile. His mother, though, could think through what was happening and see that there was a problem. Their flat was filthy: the dog defecated on the carpet, the child didn’t have a bed until the social services brought one for him, and most worryingly at the age of three and a half could not yet speak, and seemed frustrated at his inability to communicate.

Moreover, the child had suffered unexplained bruising and was still in nappies. Into all of this, a newly qualified social worker tried to work with the parents to turn things around. Things did not turn around. Matters came to a head when the mother, now pregnant, was taken into hospital and the child was taken into temporary care. Viewers saw the case conference and the decision making process at work.

Then the mother had to have an emergency caesarean: her new daughter was also, ultimately, taken into care. In the meantime the parents had gone their separate ways following a violent confrontation. But the most moving moment came when the mother admitted that she was unable to give her children the care they needed, and gave them up for adoption. Voluntarily.

But you will see no sign of the programme at the Mail right now. After all, understanding the tasks that social workers face on a daily basis is not for Dacre’s finest. Rather, they merely wait for one of them to take the wrong decision, and then initiate a campaign of demonisation. I commend that programme to anyone with an open mind, which by definition excludes the filth at the Daily Mail.

It’s another example of where Mail attack hackery just isn’t good enough.

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