Bad Social Worker

On the surface you’ll see,

A child protection social worker I’ll be,

But what you don’t see underneath,

Is the vicarious trauma I will sheath,

Arrive to work to see another dozen files,

Play catch up with enough work to go for miles,

Investigate, disrupt, intrude on another person’s life,

We call it child protection, but you’ll call it unnecessary strife,

You’ll say I’m one of them, another heartless oppressing b****,

And I’ll take your words and internalize it in a sitch,

I became a social worker to make an impact,

But all I feel I do is just enough to keep everything in tact,

There’s so much I wish I could do,

In order to lessen the pain for you,

I make promises, then you’ll say I lied,

But what you don’t know is that the bureaucracy has my hands tied,

My heart diminishes when I’m forced to see your face,

To tell you that you are “unfit”, my words, shooting like bullets that you’ll brace,

I see the anguish and the pain of hearing my words,

I see the pending relapse that I know I have stirred,

The cycle of pain and sadness continues,

And with all my passion and training, I feel my skills misused,

What can I do to break the cycle of oppression?

How can I articulate that I also feel your depression?

To you I represent what’s wrong with the child protection system,

What you don’t see is how hard I also try to break this rhythm,

Stressed, overworked and burnt out,

But I’ll keep learning, fighting and advocating about,

I’m aware that this system is not perfect,

I don’t walk in your shoes to understand your aspects,

I don’t expect compassion or any recognition,

My only goal is for your reunification,

There are so many things that I want to fix,

So many aspects of child protection I want to nix,

But that road will be a long one,

And I’ll keep fighting until that fight is won,

I might be broken at the end of that journey,

Bruises, wounds, all taped up upon delivery,

You won’t see the road blocks I’ll knock through,

To support and achieve justice for you,

This system beats me down too,

But you won’t see that, you’ll have no clue,

So, all I can do is stand by your side,

And hope that this journey isn’t a tough ride,

I’ll continue to work, broken and battered,

And I’ll see you standing there knowing your family is shattered,

I don’t expect you to empathize with me,

And there’s not enough emphasize I can put in the words “I’m sorry”.


Tenny Bui
Tenny Bui

Tenny Bui is a Masters of Social Work practicum student at the University of Toronto. Tenny earned her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of the Fraser Valley and has practiced in child protection for 4 years.




The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Rights for Children and Youth Partnership project, Ryerson University, or our other partners.


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