Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) applauds The Times for its article “Children betrayed”, (03/06/2013 p.1&2) and therefore gives it a GLAD for bringing attention to the shortage of social workers in South Africa and its bearing on children.
The journalist, Aarti J Narsee, does an excellent job in illustrating the dire need for social workers in South Africa by using statistics to grab the reader’s attention. She highlights that “as many as 66000 trained social workers are needed but there are only 8913.” She further compares South African social workers with their United Kingdom counterparts to demonstrate that they (South African social workers) are almost five times more burdened with cases that could range up to 150 families at a time. This gives the reader good context in understanding the crisis we are experiencing in South Africa.
The article does well in protecting the identities of children used in case studies which demonstrate the impact of social workers weighed down by caseloads on needy children. A number of sources are quoted, ranging from NGO workers to social workers in the private sector and even quoting the Department of Social Development. These quotes tellingly illustrate why we lack these imperative workers in our country and what the consequences are on our children.
Attention is brought to the Children’s Act stating that social workers are bound by the Children’s Act thus cannot take on more cases than they can handle. The reader is also made aware that thousands more social workers are needed in order to implement the act effectively. In so doing, the article effectively draws attention to the urgent need for the government to invest more resources into this field thus potentially making a huge difference in South Africa.
More so, the article was published aptly just a week after South Africa’s National Child Protection Week. This shows that The Times is making an extra effort in bringing awareness to children’s issues even after the end of Child Protection Week campaign. It also further sends a message to other media and the public at large that children and the issues that affect them should receive constant attention throughout the year.
MMA also commends The Times for placing this article on the front page of its newspaper. The prominent placement of this article will not only educate the public on the seriousness of the situation but it could also generate interest in the social work profession.
Well done Aarti and The Times for the well rounded coverage of this long-standing problem and most importantly for articulating its implications on children.
In response to the commentary, The Times’ journalist, Aarti Naarse said:
“Thanks for acknowledging my article “Children Betrayed”. As a journalist it makes me feel proud to have been able to write about an issue that is of importance in SA.”