Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hear No Evil

I heard an interesting story at meditation last night from someone who is a relatively new teacher in the troubled DC Public School System.

She takes her job seriously and often hears what is going on in the lives of her young wards. Occasionally she reaches out for help and advice.

This week a particular issue took her to a social worker who is not part of the school system per se. She had always found this person to be helpful before.

But for some reason, she distinctly seemed not to want to become involved. My friend finally walked out shaking her head in amazement.

She wondered if this is the backlash from the recent discovery of the 4 dead girls, killed by their mentally ill mother and not discovered by the system until months later. Many people have been caught up in the chain of accusations about what went wrong.

Is it now better just not to know so that you cannot be held culpable in case something goes really wrong? What a sad state of affairs.


Blogger Pauline said...

But isn't that (not knowing) what made so many people culpable in the case you speak of? The system either interferes too much or not enough but we can't seem to get it right.

Everything is simply too big now - our government, our schools, our social systems. The emphasis is now on maintaining those establishments rather than on the reasons they were established in the first place. Our closets are not the only areas that would benefit from some cleaning, reorganization, and simplification, eh?

11:17 AM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

It may be that the social worker has SO many clients on her caseload that she cannot possibly add to it.

I know that at the beginning of the year, 30 kiddos was doable, but now, at 43, I am getting overwhelmed. When someone comes to me with a referral, it's hard to fit that new kiddo into my workday. I suppose if I didn't take a lunch... like so many of my colleagues...

When you have needs,it's hard to remember that the "system" is made of people who, if they are capable, get stretched thinner and thinner every year.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- Unfortunately we live in a world where it is so important to establish blame that doctors have to take out expensive malpractice insurance, social workers have to fear doing the wrong thing, and hindsight rules the day. Yes, the wheels of the establishment are heavy and slow and somewhat dirty.

Kelly -- Thank you for pointing out the frustration of being an overloaded social worker. It's possible this person was worrying about her last half dozen cases and just couldn't go into overload to think about another one. Social workers are people just like the rest of us who are entitled to a bad day sometimes. I've never walked in those shoes.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Remember, all you heard was one side of the story. Who knows what really happened. Take it with a huge grain of salt, Barbara.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Some thoughts:

(1) Most people do a job, they do not fulfill al vocation (myself included). Unless they have a really, really strong commitment to whatever they are doing, why expend the energy and effort?

(2) They are not empowered. Not being empowered means you go into survival mode. And in survival mode, if you can't make the situation better, then you get out of it with the fewest wounds possible.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- We seldom get to hear both sides of anything first-hand. And even two people looking at the same side sometimes see it differently.

Richard -- I would hope most people are not working in survival mode. That would be a pretty bleak picture.

5:01 PM  

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