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Stop Internet Criticism

October 3, 2012 permalink

Here is a sure indication that social workers are feeling the heat from internet postings. British social workers are asking for new laws to shut down websites that mention them by name. An earlier article points to a critical page comparing social workers to Nazis. The original page with the Nazis is defunct, a blog from the same source is UK Social Workers Exposed.



BASW: Social workers need same online protection as celebrities

Social workers and other child protection professionals are at risk of personal harm unless action is taken to protect them from online attacks, BASW says

Tom Daley
Tom Daley received police support after online attack
Pic: Rex Features

Social workers and judges should be given the same protection from social media attacks as celebrities and wealthy individuals, the British Association of Social Workers said today.

The call follows a successful campaign by social workers to remove a number of online hate sites that published the identities of professionals involved in child protection, including social workers, judges and family court guardians, alongside Nazi imagery.

The sites also featured the names, pictures and personal addresses of several professionals. Yet so far no action has been taken by authorities.

Police should give their protection the same priority as that of diver Tom Daley and premiership referee Mark Halsey – both involved in recent high profile online attacks – BASW and its trade union arm the Social Workers Union (SWU) said today.

“This libellous publication of information and opinion on the internet is equivalent to spreading unedited opinion in a newspaper or on television,” said David Allan, acting assistant general secretary of SWU.

He said a responsible employer should regard it as a type of assault and have “very clear procedures as to how to deal with members of the public who are abusive to, or who assault, their employees to whom they have a duty of care”.

The union is encouraging employers to press for legal action against the site’s creator, “as a clear message that this type of abuse will not be tolerated”.

Bridget Robb, acting chief of BASW, said the organisation believes it knows the identities of those behind the sites and will be passing the details on to police.

“We will continue to press for action every time a site emerges, until they are stopped,” Robb said. “We will also be asking the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Ministry of Justice to contribute to this debate, and reminding employers once more of their duty of care towards their social workers.”

Source: Community Care

Addendum: A spokesman for the British Association of Social Workers gives her opinion, presented here with comments by fixcas in red.



Hayley is the press officer for the British Association of Social Workers

Don't Mistake Hatred for Freedom of Speech

Prince Harry and Kate Middleton may be less than thrilled at the public's interest in their lack of holiday attire but their plight, and that of many other celebrities who might crave more powerful privacy laws, can be keenly felt lower down the social orders too, and sometimes with far more malevolent implications.

A number of social workers have recently felt the royals' pain in an all-too vitriolic fashion, their names, faces, employers and addresses plastered all over a number of websites dedicated to exposing the ultimate conspiracy theory - that there is a secret plot to remove the attractive children of poor people and re-distribute them into a 'care industry' of potential middle class adopters. Money grabbing foster parents, paid for every child that a social worker 'snatches', are claimed to be a further by-product of the scenario.

Children taken by force from parents are regularly advertised for adoption. In addition, legislatures appropriate money as rewards to social service agencies for increased numbers of adoptions.

The British Association of Social Workers has condemned such 'name and shame' hate sites for presenting real security risks to individual social workers who are trying their best to protect children in a challenging and resource starved system.

Some sites make malicious use of the social services abbreviation 'SS', comparing social workers to the Waffen-SS, Hitler's notorious secret police service. Worse still, they stamp this Nazi imagery on to pictures of named social workers, often taken from Facebook. Whatever people's view of social workers, few would surely condone pictures taken from someone's wedding day branded with Nazi insignia and posted all over the internet, coupled with the person's name and details of how to find and intimidate them.

Hitler and Nazi have morphed into synonyms for pure evil. It is understandable that parents targeted for child seizure, most selected from the lower end of the educational and income scale, would express their opinions of social workers in the colloquial language of evil. The inarticulate character of the prime victims cannot excuse the act of family destruction through child removal, even when the perpetrators convince themselves they are acting out of beneficent motives.

Social workers are used to criticism; with the job, on occasion, necessitating entering a home to explain to a family that allegations of child abuse have been made against them, they know open-armed welcomes are unlikely. And of course social workers don't always get it 100% correct, especially with the sort of rising caseloads and diminished support BASW revealed in May through its State of Social Work survey of more than 1,000 frontline workers.

The fallibility of individuals is one reason why the system for removing children from care doesn't give social workers quite the uber-power many assume. When the stakes are so high, the decision to remove a child from a family home is extremely complex. As is the legislation underpinning such decisions, and the lengthy legal process that follows.

It's hard to know where to begin with this mangled logic. The fallibility of individuals is one of the best reasons social workers should not be given the power to remove children on whim. As for real social workers, they openly boast of their power, as when Dufferin social worker Jennifer Foster boasted to a client "We have as much power as God". The decision to remove is extremely complex? Then why is it entrusted to amateurs with only four weeks training? As for the legal process that follows, it shows little concern with finding the truth of the matter. In cases that do not get to actual trial, at least 99 percent of them, parents are not permitted to speak in their own defense, witnesses appear only by affidavit and cannot be cross-examined, and a mountain of evidence is gathered from persons using fake credentials or faked tests to push junk-science behavioral theories.

Yes, social workers make an assessment of a child's situation, but this then has to be scrutinised by managers and local authority lawyers before the child even begins their journey through the care system and the family courts system, whether that is temporary foster care before being returned home, or being removed from home on a permanent basis.

And then there is that stark reality facing social workers - the dilemma of whether to leave a defenceless child in a potentially abusive situation, or give someone the benefit of the doubt. What would you do?

Benefit of the doubt? Because of an immutable fact of human nature, what scientists call the Cinderella effect, people take better care of their own children than those of strangers. Foster care can be measured to be ten times as abusive, and deadly, as parental care. What a social worker calls benefit of the means placing a child in danger.

I have read posts on these sites that rant and rave about an 'evil' individual social worker 'stitching them up' that then go on to say, "yes, I had committed assault, yes I had been on a drinking binge for three weeks, BUT..." I ask you, Reader, what would you do, if faced with facts such as these? Are social workers just supposed to let children stay in such situations in the optimistic hope that it is 'just a blip' and that harmony will soon be restored to the household?

This paragraph suggests that real parental faults are a good enough reason to seize their children. But scientific measurement shows that even the worst parents provide better care for their children than the foster care system.

The recent tragic case of Jayden Lee Green, who was given methadone by his heroin addict parents, has been referenced by some hate sites to support their claims that social workers unfairly take children away from good parents. Yet surely a case such as Jayden's supports the view that, sometimes, too much is done to keep a family together.

In reality, taking a child into care costs a local authority money, it isn't some sort of ingenious council money spinner. In the landscape shaped by the death of Baby Peter Connelly, most child protection social workers worry that not enough children are being removed from abusive situations, not that they haven't hit their child snatching 'quota' for the month.

Jayden Lee Green and Baby Peter Connelly suffered at the hands of their real families when social workers failed to intervene. Social workers love to draw attention to these cases since they suggest that children could have better outcomes if only they had more money and power. They go to great lengths to suppress knowledge of children who were harmed of killed after placement in the foster care system. The public would be outraged if it became widely knows how dangerous foster care really is.

The secretive nature of the family courts, where they are closed to the public, no jury is present, and judgements are very rarely published, fuel the conspiracy theories. The principle behind having a closed court, like many child protection procedures, is for the benefit of the child. Not the parents, the child. Given the sensitive nature of the personal details revealed in the family courts, supporters of the closed system would argue that this protects families from Jeremy Kyle-style exposure.

When the issue of opening family courts to public scrutiny comes up, it is never families that object to openness, but only functionaries of the social services system. Protection of the child is the pretext, not the reason, for secrecy. The reason is to protect the social services system from exposure of its routine misconduct.

Solicitors, lawyers and judges involved in making decisions about children are also being targeted on hate sites. Such legal professionals are just as involved in care proceedings as social workers, yet social workers face the brunt of the 'blame'.

Families must of course have a right to protest, but these sites achieve nothing more than spreading hatred and inciting possible violence - or at the very least intimidation and harassment. Posting inflammatory comments can also cause more harm than good to those who feel they have been wronged. Families involved in protesting should be aware that IP addresses can easily be traced, and that abusive comments made online could potentially jeopardise any on-going care proceedings.

This is no empty threat. Social services trolls the internet looking for criticism, and uses it against the parents in court filings.

It is also concerning to see people offering assistance to such vulnerable parents, with dubious individuals using the hate sites to offer their services in 'helping' to win back their children. There is clear evidence of people claiming to have legal training and qualifications, for instance, when they have nothing of the sort. Families who believe they have been wronged should of course seek legal redress, but must be cautioned to seek legal representation from qualified and registered solicitors, and legitimate advocacy services, not from con men.

Fixcas concurs in advising persons affected by social services to get legal help from lawyers. But most CAS victims cannot afford a lawyer, and family defense requires help from more than lawyers, for example, using a litigation consultant or organizing political opposition. For these functions, parents should to look to other sources besides the bar.

Social workers are hardly in a position to defend themselves, not because they are frequently guilty of wrongdoing but because confidentiality clauses in their employment contracts, aimed at protecting the privacy of their clients, forbid them from speaking publicly about their work. This clause fuels conspiracy theorists, and leads to one-sided media stories about how children were unfairly taken away.

When social workers find it to their advantage, they are shameless about giving the details of real cases with real names. When they clam up, they are using what Richard Wexler calls the veto of silence. A reporter doing a story is informed by social services that there is a lot more to the story, but we cannot reveal it because of confidentiality. That usually is enough to scare the reporter away from publishing.

Without the case notes to accompany such stories, it is impossible to judge the truth, yet social workers can be judged guilty even in circumstances where they may have saved a child from an abusive home. We never get to hear about the thousands of children who were saved by social workers from being the next Baby Peter, or from the children who were glad that they were removed from their parents.

Children praising the foster care system that saved them? How come none of them have come forward, aside from those who are still under control of the social services system, such as teenaged foster children or foster kids who have graduated to become social workers?

This respect for confidentiality should work both ways, yet increasingly it doesn't.

Families, don't be taken in by these sites. Social workers, remember that Facebook can often be seen by strangers, and be careful of how much personal information you reveal online. No-one should be intimidating decent hard working professionals, and posing significant threats to their well-being, but the sad reality is that just as Kate Middleton might think twice about removing that bikini next time, so too social workers need to think twice about what they divulge to the world.

And members of the public, don't be taken in by the bland assurances of social workers endlessly claiming to work in the best interest of the child.

Source: Huffington Post