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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Another example of BAD reporting from the Globe

I'm on a real tear here. I mean it, I cannot stand it when reporters see something that they think is going to be a glorified puff piece with lots of angst and violence and oh my gosh name calling, but it's so one sided that the actual article can't even stand on it's own.

So I wrote a letter to the author and politely ripped her a new one. Which she very much deserved for such lazy and inept reporting.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, to understand you have to go and read this. Go do it now. I'll wait.

dum de dum, dwiddle dee dee, dum dum... oh, you're done! Great.

Didn't seem that offensive, did it? Well it damn well is. Boo hoo hoo for the poor social workers having to work with all those nasty dirty creepy low class poor people. Heavens, how horrible it is. All that scary cutlery in their kitchen and everything! I am crying big fat crocodile tears for them. All those young, right out of college social workers who don't have a fucking clue about what it means to be a parent. Cry me a frigging river.

Now here's the letter I sent the author, obviously edited to keep out some personal information:

While I thought your article about social workers and violence
was interesting, I feel that you left out an intrinsic reason
why clients of DSS and DMH often get so angry at social workers
that represent their agencies against families.

Social workers are almost always young, unmarried women who do
not have any children. They are completely unversed about
parenting and often have the most inane views of parenting,
which can cause serious issues between their agencies and their
clients.

For example, I had VOLUNTARILY requested help through DSS for my
son, who was setting fires when he was 11. The initial social
worker assigned to our family was in her early twenties, was not
a parent, and was from a different culture. One day, when we
were sitting in a courthouse waiting forever for our case to be
called, I rubbed my son's back. Please note that my son was, at
that time, just 12.

The social worker misconstrued a parents obvious attempt to
comfort her child and instead reported this 'incident' to DSS as
an example of our relationship being 'emeshed', which is social
worker talk for suspected sexual involvement. Because I rubbed
my son's back.

This is just one example of many that I could give you. Had the
social worker been an older, more experienced worker, especially
one that had already had children of her own, this would not
have happened. But because this particular social worker had no
parenting experience and obviously missed the normality of a
parent comforting a child, she cost my son 13 months in a
residential facility that I could not get him out of, and
required me to be vetted by two psychiatrists to ensure that I
was a good parent. Of course, the parenting exam wasn't ever
even finished because it was so ridiculous, but my son was stuck
for more than a year before I could have him returned to our
home. All this because of an over-zealous and under experienced
social worker.

I'm not a violent person by nature, but I could have cheerfully
strangled this social worker on many occasions, and I later
found out I was not alone, as she was taken out of client
relations and put into a curriculum planning job.

I don't condone violence against social workers, or indeed
anyone, but I really DO understand the frustration and built up
anger that a parent goes through when dealing with social
workers that honestly do not know what they are doing.

I also didn't like the implication in your article that all
families involved with DSS or DMH live in rat infested, filthy
homes. In fact, that isn't the usual case at all. Take a trip to
Walthan District Court and watch the juvenile court proceedings
represented by the Arlington DSS office. You'll see legions of
well dressed, obviously middle class parents, mostly from
wealthy suburb, involved with DSS. In fact, wealthy suburb keeps them more than
busy in the Arlington office.

People that ask for voluntary help from DSS should not be
treated like suspected criminals, nor should you or any media
outlet assume that we are poor, uneducated, and mistreat our
children. We ask for help from DSS because the court MAKES us in
order to get our children help from hospitals, residential
treatment facilities, and day treatment centers. Insurance WILL
NOT pay for those, so you must ask DSS or qualify for DMH in
order to have your child receive treatment.

Do your homework. Presenting only one side of the story is
wrong.

There are two sides to every story, obviously, but to imply that these poor social workers work with nothing but violent, crazed parents who are out to stab them at any given moment. In fact, that's just ridiculous. I've worked with so many social workers over the last 4 years, and this is something that I've talked to them about over and over. Every single one of them has stated that there hasn't been any issue of violence against them. And yes, they DO work in the inner city and in some of the less savory cities and towns in Eastern MA.

Every family that gets involved with the courts, either from filing a CHINS (Child in need of services) or because of a hospitalization ends up involved with DSS. It is just the way the system works in MA. It might be different in other states, but here you honestly don't have a choice unless you're planning to pay out of pocket for the hospital and any treatment facility. I've never yet met a parent who is willing to fork over that kind of money, and health insurance DOES NOT cover day treatment or residential treatment unless there are very mitigating circumstances. Your health insurance will even pressure you to ask for a voluntary DSS worker so that DSS will cover the costs.

This means that every single family who has a child with mental health issues ends up involved with either DSS or DMH. And since it is so hard to be accepted into DMH, most families go with DSS. Every kid that gets in trouble, that has a drug problem or a drinking problem, who is doing stupid and dangerous stuff ends up at some point with DSS in their lives. For the most part, DSS is a benign agency with workers that DO want to help. But when you get a really bad social worker named Chabeli, who honestly doesn't have a clue about what it means to be a parent, you get really really screwed. There are so many kids that are stuck in programs and can't get home due to social workers that are toxic. We've had two of them. And we've had many many other social workers that are fabulous and helpful and supportive. But when you have a toxic one, your family can get really screwed over.

My son was supposed to be at a firesetting program for 3 months. THREE MONTHS. He started at the end of August, and was there for more than a full year. I could not get him out of there. I mean, DSS made me jump over hoops because their social worker, who was such a dud, listened to the social worker at the program, who was a lying lazy bitch that made crap up about every single family she worked with, getting her fired in five months. But because she wrote a report that the lazy DSS social worker accepted without question, my family was broken up and screwed over.

So yes, I'm NOT afraid to be pissed off when an article implies that the clients are totally at fault and the poor innocent social workers are risking their lives every time they leave their comfy offices. It's total and complete crap and someone needs to call them on it.

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10 Comments:

Blogger madamspud169 said...

In the UK at the moment the government is giving social workers a cash bonus for every "at risk" baby they help to put up for adoption. Lots of women have lost their children through the slightest of reasons like being a single parent and being diabetic.
Worst of all the case is heard by a judge and the parent is not allowed to be present or to say anything, neither can she talk about it to anyone. There is nothing she can say or do to get her child back.

19/2/08 7:32 AM  
Blogger Daisy said...

The article was definitely one sided. Many, many clients are good families who need a hand. The danger is real; it's real in my job, too.

19/2/08 5:32 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

It was a story on violence in the workplace about social workers and therapists. What did you want the other side to be? How they get hugs once in a blue moon.
Also read the article twice looking for the poor people reference, couldn't find that one. Reference to a crack house, cities in Northern MA, but also "rich" cities(No. Andover).
You have quite a chip on your shoulder about your income level and it's reared it head once again.
You know why these are young, childless social workers? Because the pay absolutely sucks. And most do it to the best of their ability. I know there are good and bad workers in EVERY profession sorry you've encountered two that were horrible. But the violence is real, maybe no one you have had to interact with in DSS has been a victim but there are victims.
Your own words contradict themselves. You say you don't condone violence on social workers yet refer to them as "poor innocent social workers" in reference to the article implying the the clients are totally at fault. To me,if my reading comprehension is where I think it is,is you're implying that some of the social workers had it coming to them. Nice.
I considered a career in social work and thank my lucky stars I changed my mind. It is pretty much a thankless sucky job.
I have been a victim of workplace violence-assaulted by a patient and no I didn't provoke it in case you were wondering-people on drugs are kind of unpredicable.(rich guy high on coke BTW not an inner city crackhead)I went into diagnostic imaging where the pay is just slightly better but the physical toll is more than social work.
I gotta tell you I considered leaving my job after that incident I mean who needs that shit when you are trying to help someone. I could have better hours,benfits, and pay if I went into the business world.
Maybe that's what all of the social workers that are afraid of that "scary cutlery in their kitchen and everything!" should do.
Then I can cry big crocodile tears for you when you have no resources to help you with your children.

19/2/08 8:19 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Golly gee, Lynn. This is strike two. One more and you're gone. Perhaps you missed my commenting rules, which are right above the box where you type in your comment. I'll repeat it so you can read it, OK? It says:

I assume that you're an adult, that you know how to behave, and that you will respect the blogger and the other commenters. If you don't, your comments will be deleted.

If you don't like what I say, don't read the blog. If you disagree, do it politely. But don't tell me I have a chip on my shoulder and DO NOT threaten my children. Social workers are paid for what they do. They are paid better than new teachers, and I will stand by my words. For the most part, young women in their early 20's with no experience as a parent SHOULD NOT be judging parenting. Just today a social worker questioned my daughter because I allowed her, at 15.5, to go to a mall BY HERSELF with friends, no parents. WTF? No, it isn't allowing her too much independence. She's a young adult. She'll be able to drive in 6 months. Yes, another young woman without a clue making a judgement about MY parenting to MY child without talking to me about it.

Most of our social workers we work with on an almost daily basis are great. But some are horribly toxic. They need better training, and they need to leave their own opinions at the door. They're paid to deal with familes, NOT to make personal judgements. What they think about our family's religion, social practices, culture, etc. is none of their damn business.

19/2/08 8:38 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Oh, and one more thing Lynn. I might be a little more likely to respect your words IF you weren't anonymous. No blogger profile? No email? Who the hell ARE you?

19/2/08 8:40 PM  
Blogger Michelle Smiles said...

Prior to my mommy gig, I was a social worker. (Responding to your post, not the article which I honestly didn't read.) I would love to defend social workers in general because I do believe that most of us are good people with our hearts in the right place (we certainly don't do it for the money) but I have worked with many lazy and incompetent and burnt out social workers. I completely get your frustration. I think they forget sometimes that they are playing with people's lives. I'm sorry you got stuck working with some ineffective social workers. My best advice is if it ever happens again, ask the supervisor to transfer your case. Some agencies will - others won't.

19/2/08 9:50 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

the problem here is that most "social workers" especially ones you seem to be talking about are not actual social workers with MSW's. I agree that Lynn should have been more respectful, but you complained about items in the article that don't seem to exist there and then you are just as one sided in your post.

i am sorry you had a bad experience, but to over generalize like you did isnt fair to social workers who take the time to get a masters degree and have the experience. the same social workers who have done enough work with kids and parents to know what they are talking about.

so i dont think there was anything wrong with the article, it just chose to focus on one aspect of social work. you are allowed to take exception, but it doesnt seem like your argument is valid here.

19/2/08 9:53 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Sorry I don't have a blog so I never completed the profile. I'm 39,white, single, no children (because I can't afford to raise any as a single woman I would love to have one as my fertility is quickly dwindling. I simply can't afford to raise a child on my salary. And please don't read this and think this is some slap to you and your kids. I think it's wonderful that you went through IVF and had them. I've read your older posts before you're life was quite different 15 years ago-healthy and prosperous. I'm healthy just not prosperous enough to do it on my own and make too
much to get any type of assistance with childcare vouchers, etc I would be homeless within a year of giving birth since I have no choice but work full time outside of the home) and work one and a half jobs (full time and part time) to own a 20 year old very small townhouse which I bought in 2002 , drive a 10 year old Honda, own a 10yr + 26" tube TV ,no surround sound,basic expanded cable to get NESN, no vacations that I can't drive to and stay in someones guestroom,shop at Marshalls, cut coupons etc. In other words not poor but not rich-just getting by and giving back (when I can)
Living 30 mi. south of boston.

I apologize that I misused my words to make you feel I threatened your children I certainly didn't mean to.(I abhor any type of threat verbal,written, physical.) I took offense to your crocodile tears reference to potential violence and hoped you would understand if all these social workers gave up their jobs for more lucarative, safer ones there would be no DSS or DMH to facilitate getting to resources to help.(hard enough with these lousy social workers but much,much harder without their help) That is the spirit I intended and borrowed your crocodile tears term for affect. Clearly worked.

And don't worry about banning me I'm all done with your blog. I guess I should have added that line to my last comment as I deleted your blog from my favorites list after posting.
Wishing you a good life, sorry we are too different for me to continue reading you.

Oh and BTW I forgot to add one thing about me, I am the one who made a second donation to Children's Hospital at the end of your blogathon so you would reach your goal. So I'm probably not ALL bad-and that was anonymous too-that
was ok then you didn't ask about me then. (if you don't believe me I can forward emails from you and children's) I realize that in no way absolves me in your eyes to my last post but I'm just letting you know....Bye!!!

19/2/08 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like someone should start eating some humble pie....

19/2/08 10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. HOW exactly did Lynn threaten your children?

19/2/08 10:31 PM  

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