This assignment will critically evaluate theories of risk, and consider the approaches to practice for the role of a local authority social worker in the identification, assessment and management of risk of social work with children, young people and families. There will be consideration given to the impact of social work practice on service users and carers including my understanding of anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice.
The idiom ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ is a definitive climax of the dilemmas that social workers are faced with daily within their professional role. It could be argued that in reference to the culmination of tragedies reported by the media, more prevalently in the death of children, for example Peter Connolly namely (Baby P), social workers are perceived by the public extremely negatively.
It could be said that the general public lack the understanding of what the social work role truly involves. And the media contribute to this by highlighting the failings. It could be argued that ‘people fear what they do not understand’ as reported online in the (Guardian, 2010). Hence social workers are ‘Damned if they do and damned if they don’t’
The Children Act 1989, states local authority social workers are required to support and work with parents and carers to meet the needs of their children; promoting their welfare whilst safeguarding them from harm (Howarth, 2010). What this means practically for social workers is the continual dealing with the balancing of ‘care’ versus ‘control’ Thus this is not always welcomed and social workers are perceived as interfering.
Local authority social workers are guided by the Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (Department of Health et al, 2000), which will be discussed in more detail later. This is based on the ecological model, which emphasise the importance of understanding the world of the child. This process involves interacting with everyone who the child comes into contact with, to gain a holistic true picture of the child’s world.
Consequently this involves balancing the child’s needs with balancing the perceived risk of those in their environment. It has been argued that the “government and agencies have directed much of social work towards differentiating high-risk from low-risk situations, so that limited resources can be more effectively used to protect people from harm (Parton et al, 1997). The usage of the word ‘Risk’ in everyday life is commonly used. Thus we live daily in a world saturated with and preoccupied by risk. Adam et al (2009) states risk is an unproblematic and taken for granted concept. Definition 287
The concept of risk is a difficult term to define with precision according to (Adam, 1995). This is due to individuals having there on perceptions and interpretations of risk, for example a young child may find going on a climbing frame in the park as risky, due to fear of falling over. However in contrast children actively seek out chances to test themselves and develop their abilities: as they are enthusiastic to understand the world around them, therefore inevitable they will encounter some risk of harm, in any environment (Ball et al, 2008).
Another example could be an individual who takes there money to a local betting office, they may perceive risk as exciting with the possibility of doubling their money, also knowing there is a potential to lose it. Nevertheless in social work the concept of risk is frequently debated subject, thus it is typically associated with the term ‘bad’ in contrast to the term ‘good’ risk. There has been abundance of literature written regarding the concept of risk, overtime this has been developed from thinking about vague notions of ‘chance’ to using scientific approaches to predict the likelihood of a particular behaviour. Consequently, through the appliance of science risk can be calculated based on a number...
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