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Social Work: Study


Case Study 2

The Duty senior social worker is contacted by Police in East Lothian who have received information from the child's grandmother Mrs T.

Mrs T told them that she cares for Jenny every weekend and at bedtime she noticed bruising to Jenny's foot that went from the top through to the sole. She asked Jenny how this had occurred and Jenny said that her father, William, did it to her.

Mrs T explained that her daughter Shona and her partner William lived within Wester Hailes. Mrs T had 'never taken' to William. Mrs T did not believe that William was Jenny's father, although the couple had reunited following Jenny's birth. Jenny had had a bruise to her face several weeks previously and Jenny had explained that she had fallen. Mrs T wished to remain anonymous.

An Initial Referral Discussion took place between a Police Inspector, senior social worker and community paediatrician. A decision was made that the social worker and police officer should jointly interview the child. Following the interview a decision would be made regarding a medical examination of Jenny.

The social worker contacted the mother, Shona, to tell her that a Child Protection Investigation was taking place, and what it would involve. Shona was angry that an investigation was taking place but said she would accompany her daughter to the interview.

Jenny was interviewed at the social work centre. She said that her daddy had caused the bruising but it was an accident when they were playing football. Although the interview did not determine that the cause of the injury was deliberate, given the extent of the bruising, the social worker asked that a doctor examine the injury. Shona complied with this request. The examination was not conclusive - the GP felt that the injury could have happened as a result of an accident but was concerned that Shona had not sought medical advice as the bruising on the foot must have caused Jenny pain and difficulty in walking. Shona and William said that Jenny had been trying to get attention and had lied to her grandmother about the injury as she knew that Mrs T did not like William. Shona said Mrs T spoiled Jenny. Without further information the investigation did not proceed further. Mrs T was insistent that Jenny had told her that her father had caused the injury deliberately.


  1. Is there anything you need clarified, e.g. what is a Duty Social Worker?
  2. As regards what has been described above: what are you feeling? What are you thinking?
  3. What might worry you here? Is there anything that surprises you about the behaviour or actions taken?
  4. Could and would social workers make a difference here? If so, you may wish to break this down into:
    1. which social work agency (or agencies) might undertake the work?
    2. who might they work with
    3. how might they do this? And which resources are necessary and available? (no wish please)
    4. on a wider level what are the issues here? For example, the unrecognised role of Kinship Carers (Mrs T.).

What next?

Social Work: Making A Difference will provide some guidance here.

Recommended reading on this course includes:

  • Adams, R. et al. (2002) Social Work: Themes, Issues and Critical Debates, 2nd edition.
  • Cree, V. (2003) Becoming A Social Worker.
  • Cree, V. and Davis, A. (2007) Social Work: Voices from the Inside.
  • Cree, V.E. and Myers, S. (2008) Social Work: Making a Difference
  • Davies, M. (1997) The Blackwell Companion to Social Work.
  • Davies, M. (1997) The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Social Work.
  • Hothersall, S. (2006) Social Work with Children, Young People and their Families in Scotland, 2nd edition.
  • Thompson, N. (2000) Understanding Social Work: Preparing for Practice.

Also of help will be Working With Complexity in Social Work 2

Recommended reading on this course includes:

  • Butler, I. and Drakeford, M. (2003) Social Policy, Social Welfare and Scandal. How British Public Policy is Made.
  • Cree, V.E. and Wallace, S.J. (2009) 'Risk and Protection' in Adams, R., Payne, M. and Dominelli, (eds) Social Work Futures, 2nd edition.
  • Ferguson I. (2007) 'Increasing User Choice or Privatizing Risk? The Antinomies of Personalization', British Journal of Social Work, 37(3), 387-403.
  • Kemshall, H. (2002) Risk, Social Policy and Welfare.
  • Napier, L. and Fook, J. (2000) Breakthroughs in Practice. Theorising Critical Moments in Social Work.
  • Parsloe, P. (ed.) (1999) Risk Assessment in Social Care and Social Work.
  • Powell, F. (2001) The Politics of Social Work.
  • Trotter, C. (1999) Working With Involuntary Clients.
  • Tulloch, J. and Lupton, D. (2003) Risk and Everyday Life.
  • Webb, S. (2006) Social Work in a Risk Society. Social and Political Perspectives.