Gaining Global Attention, Parents Publicly Shaming Using Social Media by Aneeta Pearson- Interview with a former Child Protective Services Worker

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March 2017

I would like to introduce a former Child Protective Services Worker in this interview regarding the featured story, “Gaining Global Attention, Parents Publicly Shaming Using Social Media.” In this interview, I am asking questions pertaining to the effects of child shaming in this unfortunate growing global trend.

*Interviewee requested to remain anonymous. To maintain the integrity of the content, no edits were made by the interviewer of the interviewee’s responses.

Aneeta Pearson: Thank you so much for completing this interview with me. I really appreciate your time and insight that you will provide on this story.

Interviewee: Absolutely. I am thrilled and honored to be a part of this particular blog. As a social worker, I’ve spent a significant portion of my career serving underprivileged children and families in my community. I’m convinced that in the days, weeks, months, and years to come, child welfare related issues will remain a pertinent subject and as social workers we have the professional responsibility to confront this matter head on.

Aneeta Pearson: Can you please tell me a little about your experience working in the child welfare system?

Interviewee: I was a child protective services worker for approximately three years. During this time, I managed active investigations and active ongoing cases after placing prevention services within homes where child abuse or neglect had been substantiated. After leaving my government job, I enrolled in graduate school to pursue an MSW and went on to further hone my advocacy skills while working with abused and neglected children within a medical setting alongside a team of physicians who were certified child abuse pediatricians. In my current role, I serve as a patient advocate within a medical setting and oversee several advocacy projects throughout the institution.

Aneeta Pearson: What are some of your experiences as a child welfare worker regarding this story?

Interviewee: With recent advancements in technology and the availability of endless social media options, users are essentially able to broadcast any detail of their personal lives at any given moment. As a result, the public has recently become inundated with images and live videos of day to day events within the average family and this sometimes includes videos of parents “disciplining” their children. Unfortunately, on this particular issue of shaming children on social media, there have been several cases that have caught the attention of social workers and the public at large. I have personally found these videos disheartening and downright disturbing.

In reflecting upon my early professional experiences within the child welfare field, social media was never a major catalyst during the many child abuse and neglect investigations I substantiated. Most of the substantiations I made on behalf of the department were based upon disclosures from children, siblings, family members, mandated reporters and sometimes physical evidence. As time went on, I can recall several high-profile cases where social media did become very instrumental in building criminal cases against parents who publicly abused their children online, engaged in criminal activities in the presence of their children online, and openly admitted to abuse to social media followers.

Aneeta Pearson: What are some of your concerns of this growing trend as it relates to child welfare?

Interviewee: From a professional perspective, I am immediately concerned about the short and long term physical, emotional, social, and relational damage that results from incidents of excessive discipline and public shaming. These consequences are profound and must not be ignored as this baggage often follows recipients of public shaming into adulthood.

As a child welfare professional, I’ve unfortunately had the opportunity to have a front row seat to a wide range of abuse and neglect related issues involving countless children and their families. In cases I have investigated much like the incidents of public shaming and or inappropriate and excessive “discipline” we have began to witness via social media. I believe at the root of the issue are segments of parents who are overwhelmed, frustrated and unequipped with the proper tools to effectively institute boundaries and consequences in a nurturing way which promotes the safety, trust, and emotional bond essential to a healthy and happy child and a solid parental relationship.

The causes for such matters are multifaceted and would require a deeper dive to highlight the intersectionality been race, class, gender, culture, socioeconomic status, generational traumas often inherited by abusive parents, and certainly systemic failures within the legal and child welfare system.

I think there is certainly a great deal of work to be done within this subject at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of social work which might include developing partnerships with social media outlets to raise awareness and develop reporting practices, revisiting current evidence based parenting interventions, and to also develop an alliance between the child welfare and legal systems in addressing this specific issue.

The issue of public shaming via social media will continue to be an uphill battle and has revealed itself as one of many layers wrapped within the larger issues of child abuse and neglect faced by vulnerable children every day.

Aneeta Pearson: Thank you so much for your time and dedication in the child welfare system. I hope the information you provided will educate readers of this website.

Photo Credit: theorganist, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

By: Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS

(c) 2017 ANEETA PEARSON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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