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Social Worker Punched

December 2, 2014 permalink

A social worker in Newfoundland was attacked at the St John's airport. A union spokesman says: "It's not uncommon — in fact, it's far more regular than we would like." The union is calling not for less oppressive policies, but for more security.



Social worker punched by CYFS client at airport

The president of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest union is raising a red flag over an assault on a Child, Youth and Family Services worker last week.

Carol Furlong, president of NAPE, said the social worker was punched and knocked to the ground by a client. The incident happened at the airport in St. John's, as the client was being transferred out of province.

Furlong said there were police present at the time, as well as a manager, as part of the precautions being taken. However, the worker still was assaulted.

The worker was taken to hospital and was later released.

A Monday statement from NAPE comes one week after a girl, 13, was arrested and charged with assaulting a social worker.

Furlong said Monday it isn't unusual for union members in this setting to be faced with violence or threats of violence, but that doesn't make it OK.

"We're very concerned that social workers often go for home visits on their own. We had dealt with that some time ago and thought there had been some action taken on that, but we're very concerned about it," she said.

"It's not uncommon — in fact, it's far more regular than we would like."

Policies not enough

Furlong added there was one incident where a worker at the office noticed someone, who turned out to be a client, crawling around in the vent, and the building had to be shut down. The individual's intentions were unclear, Furlong said.

She added there seems to be some sort of disconnect between people and the situations social workers, and other workers, are actually faced with.

"There's such aggression, and it's almost like there's a licence for people to speak to people in a violent kind of fashion and to execute physical measures on people," said Furlong.

"We've seen people now who have been injured — physically assaulted — by clients, by patients, by members of the general public, and it's done sometimes with impunity. It's almost like there's an acceptance of it and we're saying, there is no acceptance of that."

Furlong said it isn't enough for employers to just have policies in place to deal with these kinds of situations; employers need to follow up and review policies to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place before something happens.

She added NAPE will be reaching out to employers to ensure protocols are in place in volatile workplaces.

Source: CBC