Thursday, August 23, 2012

Paradoxical Paradigm

Last night
on the radio
I heard a
news broadcast
on KYW
about a
crazy woman
in Camden
who went
even more crazy
and killed her
two year old son
with a knife before
hacking him to pieces and
then cutting off his head
and placing the severed head
in her freezer
(for safe keeping?)

Sure enough
the next morning
the headline in the
local newspaper screams
the terrible news:
Woman decapitates son,
kills self
This poor 2 year old boy
never had a chance

I know
I know
(as Forest Gump
might say)
crazy is as
crazy does
but that just
does not
cut it this time
(no pun intended)

You see
I suffer from
what is termed
Vicarious Trauma
a technical term
for a condition
very similar to

As a front line
child welfare
social worker for
the past 30 years                                                                      
I have had to suppress
my own personal feelings
in order to
bear witness
to some of  the most
horrendous crimes ever
perpetrated against
innocent children
in a so-called
civilized society

Whenever I hear or
read about another
blood curdling crime
that is committed
against a child
I instantly
get flashbacks of every
child abuse case
that I have ever had
to investigate
during the course of
my child welfare
child protective services

The memories just come
flooding back
triggered by the day’s
recent events

I am not bragging
or looking for pity
I am complaining

I am complaining
I am protesting
the depressing fact
that children in the USA
are still having to
be subjected
to some of  the most
heinous crimes of
abuse and neglect
at the hands
of the very people
who are supposed to
love and protect them
the most

I have voiced these
same complaints
many times before
in various forms and
in many different forums
but my pleadings
always seem
to fall on deaf ears!

When was the last time
that you heard a
Presidential candidate
speak out about the plight
of the 500,000 children
who languish in foster care
from coast to coast
year in and year out
for decade after decade?

In the year of 2012
in the 21st century
why must
forty percent of all
American children
continue to live in poverty?

These are innocent children who
cannot get enough
food to eat
These are children who are
ill housed                  
ill clothed
ill fed
and ill treated
every waking hour of
their lives

I say God bless
all of the first responders
who do try to intervene
in the lives of
abused and neglected children
by risking their own lives
to rush in where angels fear to tread
those who try so valiantly
to save these
smallest of souls
from all the torments of Hell!

After thirty plus years as a
front line social worker
working on behalf of
abused and neglected children
I am more than a little
shell shocked!
I am more than a little
burned out!

As I approach my retirement years
I exhibit all the symptoms of
PTSD and Vicarious Trauma
which have become
a very serious
occupational hazard
for all front line social workers who
have dedicated their careers
and their very lives to
save and
your children and mine from
every kind of conceivable
torture to
body and
that these unfortunate
babies find themselves
having to endure
through absolutely
no fault of their own!

As a consequence
me and thousands of other
social workers  and
first responders
like me
find ourselves
in far too many cases
unable to sleep
or suffering from nightmares
cold sweats and
mental and physical illnesses
of every type and across
every spectrum
that stem directly from
the stresses and vicarious trauma
that we have had to endure
in the course of trying to
aid and protect the most
vulnerable of the most vulnerable!

It is all well and good
to laud us as the
unsung heroes of our

But like the thousands of
war veterans who have
returned to the USA
with torn bodies and
damaged minds
our front line social workers
dedicated civil servants
and devoted first responders
need less
(much less!)
of society’s
empty gestures
and hollow proclamations
(or the tinsel baubles of
medals and parades
as well meaning
as these gestures may be)

What is needed
is a good deal more
(much more!)
of society’s
compassionate treatment
for those of us who
have already
given so much!

Philadelphia, Pa 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment