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OU on the BBC: Protecting Our Children - 1. Damned If They Do...

Updated Monday, 30th January 2012

As we start the series, Susanne is starting in her new role with the team.

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Tiffany at a one-hour contact session with her baby daughter Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Sacha Mirzoeff Tiffany at a one-hour contact session with her baby daughter Susanne is a newly qualified child protection social worker in Bristol. As a matter of course, all newly-qualifieds are given simple, low-risk families to work with. However the most straightforward situations often develop into something far more ominous.

Susanne’s very first case is to help a family with their three year-old boy, Toby. He has global developmental delay. The family need support and advice about how to improve his upbringing and the conditions of their untidy small flat.

However Mike, the father, is hostile towards Susanne so she can’t help the family in the way she would like. The risk in the case increases when unexplained bruises are found on their young boy. More experienced social workers are drafted in to help Susanne. The family still won’t accept the support and their parenting of Toby remains in question.

After months of trying to affect change the team manger Sallyanne decides to take the case to court. Contrary to popular opinion, social workers do not have the power to remove children from their parents.

As the situation deteriorates further, Tiffany becomes pregnant. Her unborn child becomes another case for the social workers.

Shot over the best part of a year with remarkable access, ‘Damned if they do, Damned if they don’t’ shows the unfolding process that social workers go through to try and determine the best future for the children. It’s an emotionally fraught situation that shows the inside track for child protection social workers. It’s an unbiased observational film where we get to understand both the professionals’ and parents’ points of view both revolving around Toby and his future welfare.

Protecting Our Children is on BBC Two and the BBC HD Channel, Monday nights at 9.00pm. For further broadcast details, and links to iPlayer, visit

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