MORE SOCIAL WORKERS NEEDED ?
The school shooting in Ohio and the reports about the shooters background has once again spurred calls for more social workers in our schools. People are asking how kids like that are able to go unnoticed and why students and teachers weren’t able to spot a potentially troubled student and refer them to a social worker. There is no way to tell if any of the recent school tragedies might have been averted by having more social workers in our schools.
For many years the school that I worked in had one social worker for a population of about 300 students. I have heard from many teachers in other schools that tell of a huge shortage of social workers and how overburdened the social workers are. Like most staffing situations, the amount of social workers in a school is subject to the school budget.
It’s not just schools that have a shortage of social workers. My daughter is a social worker and her workload at the first agency she worked for was incredibly large. The pressures on the social workers were so unbearable that once she had completed two years on the job, she had the longest tenure of any worker. Imagine, everyone left before they had completed two years.
I hate to say this, but when it comes to the mental health of our children, it’s just not a major priority. That’s the conclusion I would draw by looking at the ratio of social workers to that of needy children. The amount of school psychologists is also woefully inadequate. I think most teachers would agree with my assessment.
Psychologists tell us that one in four Americans has some sort of mental or emotional problem. If that’s anywhere close to being accurate, we have a lot of work to do. When it comes to our children, you would think we could find the money somewhere so that our overburdened social workers get some relief and their numbers are increased dramatically. Who knows, it just might prevent the next school tragedy.