Social Work p.r.n. Conducts Safety Survey of Over 2000 Social Workers
Fort Washington, PA – January 13, 2007
In October, 2006 Boni Fredericks, a social worker, was murdered while taking a child to visit his mother in Henderson, Kentucky. In August, 2004 Teri Zenner, a case manager in Johnson County, Kansas was stabbed to death while visiting the home of a client. The 17 year old client, diagnosed with a mental illness, was charged with her murder. In January of that same year a clinician in private practice was murdered by his 16 year old client.
Are these isolated events? We wanted to find out. We surveyed 2000 social workers in the Tri-State region. They were a mix of bachelor level and master level social workers all from accredited schools of social work. We disseminated the surveys via email between December 11, 2006 and January 13, 2007. We sent out one follow-up email after the initial email. We had 471 respondents to the online survey. The response rate to the survey yielded a 31.4% return rate.
What we found was that these incidents were not isolated, but a telling fact of what social workers are facing while doing their job. The incidents mentioned above should have sparked, at a national level, a renewed interest and effort on studying client violence and an emphasis on the need for social workers (and the agencies that they work for) to train and protect themselves. Unfortunately, after the initial reports of the tragedies, interest faded and the news cycle moved on. Some changes were made in Kentucky and Kansas, but not on a national basis.