Posted on March 12th, 2012
When the Task Force to lead Social Work out of the aftermath of the death of Baby P included Deidre from The Sun, the sister paper of the News of the World, many Social Workers questioned the decision. The guiding light of Deidre from The Sun was going to tell us, professionals how to do our job. The years of training were not enough to support families and listen to children’s fears. How ironic that The Sun’s sister Sunday paper chose to hack the mobile telephone of 16 year old Charlotte Church. Most Social Workers would have considered Charlotte a child and in need of protection from harmful acts of adults. Yet a newspaper following Charlotte around before her 16th birthday is not act that most Social Workers would have supported.
When the young Charlotte started her relationship with her first boyfriend, her telephone was allegedly hacked. There is no suggestion that Deidre from The Sun personally carried out any phone hacking, but the Social Work profession was seeking advice from an employee of an organisation that abused the privacy of a child for profit.
When Charlotte was not providing news herself, News International moved to target her mother’s mental health issues. There were ‘news’ publications about Charlotte’s mother’s self-harming and suicide attempts. The normal response from a Social Worker would be to focus on the needs of the service users and protecting their confidentially. However, due to the fact we have such a bad self-image, mostly created by the public exposure of newspapers like The Mail and The Sun, we believed that we needed advice from Deidre.
It is time we stopped being so gullible and stood up for our profession. We might make mistakes, but in the main we act in the best interests of children and we do not hack their telephones. The actions of young 16 year old girls might create worries for Social Workers, for instance that they could be exploited. It is rare that for Social Workers to target young girls for their own end and never on such a grand scale as News International’s News of the World.
Let’s hope the Social Work profession learns from News International’s actions and stops looking for guidance from inappropriate outside forces. We can regulate ourselves if we have the courage to say what we believe is right and wrong. Honest evaluation, without focusing on scapegoating individuals is what is needed not advice from Deidre from News International.