In the wake of the truly shocking willful neglect and brutal murder of Liam Fee, we can expect several articles and blogs on the failings of social services. Most of these will include adjectives such as ‘over worked’ and ‘under resourced’ pointing to a system stretched to breaking point by the needs of its clients and the demands of its bureaucratic core, and this may well be a fair observation. However, it doesn’t allow for a rarely reported but almost universally accepted truth – All social workers are stupid.
Immediately I hear gasps of disbelief as the well meaning and those with relatives in the profession jump to their defense.’My Mother is a social worker and she has a very hard job.’ One will say. ‘I liaised with a social worker last week and she had a huge caseload.’ Another will interject. So, for the sake of such trite counter arguments, why don’t I qualify my original statement and say ‘All social workers are stupid except for the ones that you know personally that aren’t.’ Either ways, it still makes for a hell of a lot of stupid social workers.
On a primal level we all know this about social workers. It’s why we never call them to deal with our own family crisis. Social work, like the police, are the ones you call to investigate other people’s children.
So, where is my empirical evidence to support such a claim? Truth is I don’t have any, but that’s because no-one’s collected those statistics yet. In all the internal investigating, data finding, data analysing, fact checking, signature confirming and box ticking we can expect this case to generate over the coming months and years, no one person will be charged with the simple act of establishing the average intellect of all the social workers involved with this tragedy.
Of course, on the one hand, intellect is not an easy thing to qualify, influenced by so many other factors such as education, training, access to resources, experience in the field, etc. But, on the other hand, it’s very simple to figure out if someone is as dense as a Disney heroine. All you have to do is talk to them for ten minutes. I’m not suggesting the subject of this conversation should be complex. Ideally the theme should be fairly neutral, to avoid convoluted or defensive remarks. Within reason, you, the interviewer, can have a chin wag with them about absolutely anything, after which you have to tick a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ box to the following question.
‘Having engaged in a bit of banter with social worker A, for a period not exceeding quarter of an hour, would you, in good conscience, leave them in charge of a basil plant?’
So much air time is given to the difficulties a social worker encounters when trying to establish the circumstances any given family may find themselves in. I’d like to see a few more articles on the difficulties any given family may encounter when trying to articulate to social work what’s actually going on for them.
I’m going to conclude this article by being very clear about who murdered Liam Fee. It was not social services. It was his Mother and her partner, and a glimpse at their defense indicates that they were profoundly manipulative and skillfully deceptive. That doesn’t mean social work are off the hook. Josephine Public had alerted them several times to her concerns. They had very good reason to suspect Liam was being neglected and quite possibly abused, and to act accordingly, and they didn’t. They got it wrong. But, here’s the thing, they get it wrong all the time. There’s a national outcry when they get it really wrong, but most of the time there’s no media interest in the monotony of their work or the enormous impact of their incompetence. Indeed much of their work occurs in secret family courts far from the gaze of any prying media.
For a group of professionals with such a crap track record they are appallingly arrogant, as anyone who has ever had the misfortune to be interviewed by them can attest to. This arrogance is a smoke screen designed to distract you from what they’re really hiding – The fact that they are all stupid.