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RBC — After reading the Rocky Mountain News series about abused children, we have decided that the News deserves a pat on the back for at least recognizing the problems that exist in the Denver area, and a slap on the hand for crucifying those who are trying to alleviate the situation.
The articles gave the impression that social workers make the rules and enforce them to fit their own beliefs. Not true. Social workers are directed by courts and agencies as to actions to be taken in each case. Within the State Department of Social Services, workers are assigned to teams, which helps assure that proper and objective attention is given to each case. Supervisors are given updates on each case at least every other day, with priority cases updated daily.
Having known a local social worker for the past eight years, I can tell you that she is the most caring person I have ever known. I have seen her work for months on a case and get nowhere because the court system and welfare administrators feel that people who abuse their children one way or another deserve just one more chance.
I am writing this for my friend, since any correspondence between her and the news could put her job in jeopardy. Her words, the words of someone who has been there, say it all.
“Wait a minute! Let’s hear it for the social workers! Those people who sit on urine-stained furniture in rooms littered with trash and animal feces talking to negligent parents.
“Let’s hear it for the social workers who walk the streets of the housing projects and middle-class neighborhoods alike, sometimes searching in vain for a non-existent address, or ringing doorbells and seeing the curtains move, but having no one answer the door. Oh well, another precious hour wasted.
“Let’s hear it for those who climb to the fourth or fifth floor of an old apartment building on rickety and broken stairs that creak each time you take a step, while the banister shakes back and forth under your hand.
“Let’s hear it for those who walk down trash-filled alleys to basement apartment entrances or deep stairwells with narrow steps covered by ice in the winter. Sometimes they walk backwards, to see who has followed them, or to prevent a mugger, a purse snatcher or rapist from getting them from behind.
“Let’s hear it for those who see children so badly beaten that it is impossible to find a place on their body not yet invaded by a strap mark or an extension-cord welt.
“Let’s hear it for those who find that the 12-year-old girl who already has one child is pregnant again, even after the courts have given permission for prescriptive birth control. Or the mother who is pregnant by her own son, or the daughter pregnant by her father.
“Let’s hear it for those who have seen the perfect imprint of an adult foot on an 18-month-old baby’s back. Or those in a home for an hour before finding out that all of the occupants have a serious infectious disease, intestinal worms, lice or who knows what else.
“Let’s hear it for those who have been verbally and physically assaulted by people they are trying to help. For those who receive death threats directed at themselves and their families.
“Let’s hear it for those who are often awakened by the phone at three in the morning for emergencies. For those who spend weekends visiting someone else’s family instead of their own.
“Let’s hear it for those who not only have to be accountable to their own families, but also to supervisors, administrators, the courts, the attorneys, the parents, the school personnel, the psychologists, the doctors, and on and on and on.
“And finally, let’s hear it for those who not only see the news but also live that news. Social workers who have had infants in their caseloads sexually assaulted, brutally beaten, stabbed, frozen, burned with cigarettes or murdered by their own parents or family. Social workers who try so desperately to reunite children with their parents, only to have a seemingly unhearing and uncaring judge refuse because of personal prejudices. Then the following day, the emotionally drained and defeated parent commits suicide.
“Let’s hear it for the social worker who goes through all of this time and time again, only to find more of the same at the end of the tunnel.”