January 12, 2005

A thankless task

Ok so this is a bit random, but as I was falling asleep last nite I was thinking about the most thankless jobs in society.
I think i settled upon "social worker" – particularly those working with children.

Think how many films you've seen where the social workers have been cast as the bad guys. Picture the scene… loving parents have their children wrongly taken away due to some kind of abuse charge.

But really, how often does this happen? Recalling that social workers are highly trained professionals, surely in the vast majority of cases they get it right.

I can't think of one TV drama or film where the social workers have saved the day by rescuing children from abusive parents!

In conclusion: If social workers 'get it right' then they work quietly behind the scenes and society doesn't care. If they get it wrong once then they're plastered all over the headlines and the scandal can last for days; thats a long time for a story to remain in the news.

Thoughts? Anyone think of a more thankless job?

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  1. I don't know what it's called but I guess the people who cut the grass aren't well-received (though the smell afterwards is great, it doesn't make up for the horrible noise).

    Concerning social workers on TV: Judging Amy's mom did a good job on saving the day occasionally.

    12 Jan 2005, 13:05

  2. Hmmmm….fresh cut grass.

    The Police also have a really tough time. Go around and save the country from ruin day in, day out. Yet everyone seems to hate them. Go figure.

    12 Jan 2005, 13:32

  3. That is true… policing is fairly thankless. I'm not sure how it measures against social work on the 'perception by the populace' scale. I suppose if you stop anyone in the street and asked them what the police did, you'd get a far more accurate and comprehensive answer than if you asked about social services.

    Heh almost sounds like you have a personal beef with grass-cutters Thorwald :p

    Think I've actually seen the odd Judging Amy where all is well in the world of social work… whoops didnt think of that one!

    Fresh-cut grass is quite pleasant tho, i have to say :D

    What about "professor of alcohol studies"; there was someone with that title on the news over the christmas binge drinking period. Maybe not thankless, but do we really need them?

    12 Jan 2005, 15:40

  4. Tax inspector. On a purely 'thankyous per year' scale that occupation must win outright.

    Or am I forgetting all those times they miscalculate tax in someone's favour? Haha! "miscalculate tax in someone's favour" that's classic.

    15 Jan 2005, 23:15

  5. lol :)

    15 Jan 2005, 23:51

  6. Martin Kirkbride

    As one of those unlucky childrens social workers I can tell you that it's the Courts who thank us least of all. I've lost count of how many childrens lives I've saved, but can count on one hand the number of times I've been thanked by the Bench. Actually I thank Barry who cuts my grass every time he does it. But surely the most thankless job is the supermarket greeter at ASDA in Beswick in Manchester. Everytime I'm having a bad day ( which is not as often as you might think ) I go into ASDA to buy my lunch and thank my lucky stars that I don't have to stand at the entrance all day dressed up as the statue of liberty or something equally ridiculous. Actually I've come to believe that ASDA put this show on just for me, just to help me feel better. It works !

    20 Feb 2005, 11:02

  7. kristine

    I enjoy your comment on the most thankless job being that of social worker…I couldn't agree more. I am a soical worker and I am completing my MSW thesis which is entitlled A Feminist Approach to Deconstructing the Medias Image of Female Social Workers. I will use your comment as a quote in my thesis, thaniks.

    23 Feb 2005, 23:16

  8. martin Kirkbride

    Glad you found it interesting. Actually I think this blog could be really cathartic. I think I'll look into how set one up, just for us unlucky ones. Good luck with the thesis sounds interesting.I'm quite interested in how female colleagues view male social workers who choose to work with children, think there might be a thesis there too.

    24 Feb 2005, 08:05

  9. You are more than welcome to use the thread on my blog for now of course :) I'm glad that my blog has provoked some serious and thoughtful responses.. just what blogs are good for!

    Personally I'm put off becoming a social worker for life by having two parents in the profession. It's not that they don't take anything out of it; I think they do. It's the high stress levels that I don't think I'd be very good with.

    re. ASDA- does ASDA really think that having a greeter will increase their sales? Perhaps they know they can attract people like you having a bad day.

    24 Feb 2005, 09:43

  10. John Arthurs

    True tale about attitudes to social workers

    A few years back one a social worker had to go to magistrates court for an interim care order on children of violent parents
    The magistrates granted the interim care order, and the parents violently assaulted the social worker after the magistrates went out.
    When the chair of the bench was told, the response was 'its hardly surprising in the circumstances'
    Same magistrates a week later set a teenager down for 3 months for punching the police officer who was arresting him.

    Problem is worse because social workers find it hard to advocate in their own cause. Trained to be communicators/facilitators/listeners, they feel a sense of failure when the people they work with resort to violence. Also there has in the past been a macho culture amongst some managers that if a social worker could not hack a bit of abuse and treats of violence then they were somehow not up to the job. This is not prevalent these days, and social workers are better supported in this respect at least.

    23 Apr 2005, 13:05

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