Social Worker Death

I found this link to an article buried on the internet over the weekend. A social worker in West Virginia was sexually assaulted and killed and the arrested suspects are her clients. The current thought is that she was doing a home visit and then something went awry and she ended up dead.  This reminds me of the death of a seasoned social worker in Massachusetts and is just another reminder that our job is dangerous.

My dad is a firefighter so I am used to having a family member doing a dangerous job – it was a known possibility that he could be killed in a fire.  But it doesn’t seem that social work has that same “understanding”.  Heck, we are taught to be “strengths-based” (which I wholly believe in).  At our core, we are looking for the good in our clients, not focusing on potential dangerous spots, as firefighters do.  So does this make us more susceptible to attacks?

Personally, it is good to be reminded of these incidents and for me to know that getting attacked is always a possibility.  So I must take all of the natural precautions, such as trusting my gut, knowing where the exits are, who is in the house, and getting a good read on people.  But it is still scary to think that while I am trying to do good in the world, I am also (sometimes) putting my own safety on the line.

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4 Responses to Social Worker Death

  1. antiSWer says:

    I believe there was a similar case in the province I live a few years back.

    As with most of what we do, there is a balancing act that we have to maintain. The notion of safety only adds a little bit more to this.

    And yes, you’re very right that social work doesn’t have that same understanding. While our dangers are not the same as that of a police officer or firefighter, there is no doubt that they exist.

  2. In my current job working with the homeless and at risk on and off the streets I’m very aware of the danger I’m in on a regular basis. I’m okay with that, many of the people who care about me aren’t. It’s funny, because my job doesn’t scare me at all, but many of my friends are scared for me. It’s sad that people in “helping professions” become the victims of those they are trying to help.

  3. Reas says:

    I think the probability of us not getting hurt are wildly in our favor, but it’s sobering to hear about it, no doubt. There was a social worker in our town who was killed on a home visit with a (MR) client about a decade ago. Really freaked us all out for a while.

  4. cb says:

    We have had a lot of discussions recently about safety at work and particularly on visits. It is something that is quite easy to become complacent about.. and this is a horrible reminder.

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