Social Workers, Therapists Often Encounter Violence


One social worker scans the street before leaving her office, checks the back seat of her car before getting in, and drives around in circles instead of heading straight home to make sure she is not being followed. Another looks for all the exits as soon as he enters a building, in case he needs to run for his life, says the Boston Globe. “No matter how many safety precautions are in place, bad things can happen,” said a social worker who has had to take children away from gun-wielding adults suspected of child abuse.

This month’s fatal stabbing of a therapist, allegedly by a client, illustrates the kinds of dangers social workers encounter daily. They endure threats and physical violence, pay nighttime house calls to crack houses and scenes of recent shootings, usually working for meager paychecks. Some, in their effort to protect abused or neglected children, find themselves confronted by agitated and armed adults. Massachusetts state social workers reported 343 on-the-job threats during the fiscal year that ended last June 30. In New York City, where a therapist was slashed to death in her office last week, a man charged with killing her told police he had been looking for another therapist who had institutionalized him 17 years ago.


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