Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Neglecting neglect - in Ireland

The report of an independent review of the management of child neglect case in three parts of the Republic of Ireland has reached some uncomfortable conclusions, according to the Irish Times.

Most worryingly the review found that some social workers “… lacked understanding of the deep and long-lasting impact of neglect, while some seemed fixated on keeping children in families where neglect was occurring”.

I have to say that I personally don’t know many social workers who are unaware of the consequences of severe neglect. But what may be happening in Ireland, and elsewhere, is that the priorities of agencies and the operation of the legal system shape workers’ perceptions and responses.

If you believe that you are not going to get the necessary resources from your bosses to deal with a particular case, or if you believe that the courts will not make orders in certain situations, then it would not be surprising if you ended up tolerating behaviour that should not be tolerated.

I believe that the neglect of neglect will not be addressed simply by providing additional training for social workers. A strategic cross cutting approach is required, targeting not only front-line service providers, but, among others, members of higher management, legal staff and judges.