An article entitled “Social workers and journalists are hindered by mutual suspicion” recently appeared in an on-line edition of The Guardian. The article discussed the fact that the media generally only latches onto stories involving the elderly who are exploited as a result of a failed system. The author noted that “[w]e do love to cultivate our blame culture.” He further observed that “news reports are frequently highly sensational, simplistic, often inaccurate and rarely look at the wider structural issues of societal breakdown…The positives are never reported.” This problem isn’t anything new. The NASW Foundation has indicated that “[w]hile social workers are often featured in magazine and newspaper lifestyle and feature articles as credible subject experts, television news programs and other hard news media frequently limit coverage of the social work profession to negative child welfare cases. (Media audit, April 2004).
The impact of public perception about social workers is evident: it makes your job significantly more difficult. Trying to obtain the trust of seniors and their families is that much more difficult as a result of bad publicity. In 2004 the National Association of Social Workers released an article indicating that the results from research conducted for NASW’s Social Work Public Education Campaign show that the general public considers social work an essential “helping profession,” but does not understand what education and credentials are required to be a social worker and does not have a grasp of the diversity of the profession. Every time another news article publicizes the failure of social workers to have taken some action which may have made a difference, it undermines their ability to successfully perform their duties.
As a result, it is imperative that social workers in Nevada understand their obligations regarding the reporting of elder exploitation. The continued vigilance of social workers can, and will, make a difference in preventing elder exploitation and the Law Offices of Lee A. Drizin want to help in any way we can to counter negative images by promoting success stories. If you have a story you would like to have us promote, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Together we can fight against the “blame culture.”