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Joan Burnie Page: Social workers don't deserve this kicking.

Byline: Joan Burnie

ANOTHER week, and another 200-page report trashing social workers.

This time it's on their inability to save Danielle Reid, the 'invisible' five-year-old, murdered by her mum's junkie lover.

It follows similar inquiries into the tragic and avoidable deaths of other vulnerable kids.

There'll be another along any minute on two-year-old Derek Doran, who died when he drank his parents' methadone.

I can almost write it myself.

So it will be failures of communication. Blah. Failure to keep proper tabs on the Doran family. Blah, blah. Failure to stop Derek finding the bottle, unscrewing the child safety cap and swigging the lethal liquid down. Blah and another blah.

Obviously one of that incompetent, good for nothing social work shower should have been sitting in his house night and day making sure the toddler didn't get his tiny hands on his mummy and daddy's nice green medicine.

And the poor bloody infantry, who the rest of us smugly expect to deal with the most drugged-up, destructive, damaged and difficult families going, will get it in the neck - again.

After all, we couldn't expect Derek's parents to be responsible for their own son's safety, could we? They had a habit to nurture which was infinitely more important to them than their kids.

And how dare anyone suggest Tracy Reid, Danielle's mother, might have left Lee Gaytor the second he began ill-treating her daughter.

She lurved him.

Heaven forfend either that anyone should ask what other relatives - the aunties, the uncles, the grandparents - were doing to prevent the murder and abuse of their own flesh and blood.

But no, no, we mustn't do anything like that, not when we can shove all the blame along with the guilt on to total strangers - the social workers.

I'm not saying they don't make mistakes. They do. Big ones with terrible consequences, but the problems they face are even bigger.

Something like 60,000 Scottish children currently live in families where drugs are as common - indeed more common - as baked beans.

I've fulminated before about allowing addicts to keep their kids, but where do you put them all? Few of us are willing to open either our hearts or our homes to them.

Because that's what the social workers are supposed to be for, isn't it?

But have you ever looked at their average workload?

They're not superman and superwoman. They're ordinary people trying to do an extraordinary difficult job, among a bunch of deadbeats most us don't want to think about far less care for - until something goes wrong.

At the same time, by continually concentrating on their faults, we almost absolve those who actually commit these unspeakable crimes.

The way things are going I expect we'll soon have some junkie child killer suing because "they" didn't stop them from doing it.

But unless we give more support to the "they" instead ' of endlessly laying into them, who in their right mind is going to go into the profession at all? Not when II they regularly get their teeth kicked in.

And for what - not a lot of I money but bucketfuls of grief. They cannot win.

We think they don't interfere enough while their clients think they do it too much.

I don't know really what anyone can do about parents who put their addiction way ahead of their kids.

But I do know that without our social workers, there would be even more Danielles and Dereks.

'Social workers are ordinary people trying to do a difficult job among a bunch of deadbeats most of us don't want to think about- until something goes wrong '


TIME TO RECYCLE: Reese's bog brush dress' TRAGIC: Derek Doran
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 10, 2006
Previous Article:I hunted for my husband's killer; Lesley Bilinda put her life a man she believes is a mass ' murderer.
Next Article:Joan Burnie Page: It's money for nothing.

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