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Social Work


A social worker is a person employed in the administration of charity , social service , welfare , and poverty agencies, or religious outreach programs. Social workersmay also work with community health agencies. In developed countries a large number of social workers are employed by thegovernment. Other social workers work as psychotherapists, performing individual counselling, frequently working in coordinationwith psychiatrists , psychologists , or other physicians .

A social worker practicing in the United States usually requires a Master's degree ( MSW ) or aBachelor's degree ( BSW ) in Social Work to receive alicense in most states. In some areas, however, a social worker may be able to receive a license with a Bachelor's degree in anydiscipline.

At the time of massive immigrant influx, and consequent social and economic upheaval, the church was the only organized forcewith a mandate to provide services to the needy. Religious organizations, consequently stepped into the void, creating workforces and legal guidelines (such as the Elizabethan Poor Laws, in England). In some countries, Social Work has emerged as arecognized non-secular and professional endeavor to serve these needs. Governmental support for non-secular and non-politicalfulfilment of certain societal needs has promoted the field of social work. In many countries religious organizations continue tobe prevalent in addressing these needs of society.

Typical social work may involve:

The National Association of Social Workers [1] (NASW) is the largestorganization of professional social workers in the United States.

The difference between social work and social activism is sometimes impossible to differentiate. Similary the differencebetween government beaucracy and social work is sometimes impossible to differentiate.

Certain types of social workers are more likely to suffer criticism than most other workers because they often work inscenarios which are highly emotionally charged. Examples include:

  • taking a child away from parents who are regarded as unfit (this is even more controversial when it involves religiousbeliefs)
  • failure to remove children from parents who subsequently hurt or kill them
  • organizing demonstrations that turn into riots
  • supporting activities that are highly controversial - abortion, needle exchanges


Criticism often centers around social workers acting unprofessionally. This would include methodological errors, bias with oragainst those whom they work with, failure to perform their jobs, or even witch hunts.

Social Workers would respond that often problems with social workers can be traced to poor pay, inadequate training, excessivecase loads, inadequate funding, and bad government policies. The reason social workers are singled out is because they are theones who directly face and deal with the public.

Criticisms range from methodological errors to human rightsabuses . When social workers do not remove children from homes in which children are abused by their parents, thereis often public outcry about child welfare agencies not doing their job.

Examples of Documented Abuses and Highly Controversial Behaviour

  • Child welfare agency successfully sued. "Ontario Court of Appeal unequivocally found the Durham Children's Aid Society[Ontario, Canada] and its social workers guilty of the grossest negligence, gross incompetence and malicious prosecution." Rev.Dorian A. Baxter
  • Ontario Coalition Against Poverty involved in rioting. "On June 15 [2000] , we sought to move forward in a fashion thatwould, even if we were denied entry to the [Ontario] Legislature [Toronto, Canada], show that passivity in the face of attack wasover." OCAP

Also, there have been several scandals involving false testimony about alleged child sexual abuse . In these cases, often referred to as modern witchhunts , it is generally acknowledged that some social workers, not sufficiently trained and oftenoverzealous, created false memories through suggestive questioning.Internationally, many courts are now rejecting this type of testimony.

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