Negative coverage in the media of social workers employed in the field of child welfare frequently appears in the wake of tragedies within families. Though social workers cannot always prevent incidents of this kind, the media, and consequently the public, blame them for dereliction of duty, an attitude that can affect their professional self-esteem. The present research poses the question of how negative versus positive media coverage of social workers in the field of child welfare affects their professional self-esteem, and whether family and social support can moderate such an outcome. In order to examine this question, a controlled empirical study was carried out with ninety-nine social workers. The participants were divided randomly into three groups, each exposed to media coverage of a different nature: positive, negative and neutral. They were then asked to complete a professional self-esteem questionnaire. The results point to a significant relationship between education, professional seniority, family and social support and professional self-esteem. Thus it was found that family and social support moderated the effects of negative media coverage on professional self-esteem. The implications of the findings for the professional practice of social workers are discussed.
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© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.
- child welfare social workers
- controlled empirical study
- family and social support
- media coverage
- professional self-esteem