Someone to watch over me

BBC1, 23 November, 10.35pm


“Damned if you do; damned if you don’t” could have been the
subtitle for this, the second episode of the BBC series following
Bristol social services department, writes Rebecca Eden.

This series attempts to highlight the dilemmas faced by social
workers working with children and families. For example, deciding
when to intervene to keep children safe, as in the case of
14-month-old Sam with unexplained rib fractures; how to work in
partnership with parents who undermine professionals; and how to
use the limited resources available to work with a child such as
14-year-old Nadia, at risk of abuse through prostitution.

Unfortunately these dilemmas are not looked at in detail and the
emphasis is on the role of the social worker rather than on joint
working and decision-making. I fear this will do nothing to dispel
the common misconception that social workers act in

The programme does, however, show some difficulties being dealt
with in a sensitive and respectful manner, including social worker
Jo’s interviewing of Sam’s parents. They were exonerated following
a diagnosis that Sam has a bone-softening condition. Although angry
at being put through an investigation they understood that such
procedures are necessary to protect children.

At times there was the feeling that some of the adults played to
the camera. I felt deep unease about the children’s identities not
being protected, particularly in the case of Nadia where this might
place her at further risk or lead to her being discriminated

I hope my concerns will be addressed in other episodes and that the
series will provide a true picture of the work stresses inherent in
this area.

All of us working with children and families should watch the
series, if only to understand what is influencing public

Rebecca Eden is an independent review manager for North
Tyneside children’s services department

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.