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Buffy and the Social Worker

Discussion in 'Sunnydale Cemetery' started by DeadlyDuo, Jul 23, 2017.

  1. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    In "Gone" when the social worker indicates she's going to take Dawn away from Buffy, Buffy uses her newly acquired invisibility to make it look like the social worker is going mad. This happens in front of the social worker's colleagues (thus providing "witnesses" for her unstable behaviour) and would likely result in the social worker's cases, including Dawn's, being taken off her.

    This is supposed to be a victory for Buffy. However, when looking at the bigger picture, her actions have potentially serious repercussions. The social worker would've been working on several other cases, quite possibly involving abused kids who need help and removing from their situation. Since you can't just take kids away, to extract them would require paperwork and evidence that they need to be removed etc. Obviously another social worker would be put on those cases, but to catch up and get up to date on every case would take days, if not weeks. If a kid is being abused and needs extracting, then those few days could be the difference between life and death whether through violence (if they were being beaten every day) or through suicide (if they were being sexually abused).

    Given the tendency for social workers' heavy workloads and the likelihood of resources being stretched (eg not enough social workers to go around, and due to Buffy's actions, there is now one less), cases would be prioritised based on the vulnerability of the abused kid eg a younger child at risk of being beaten to death would be of higher priority than a teenager being sexually abused.

    This means that, though Buffy saved Dawn from being taken away, she has potentially doomed other kids to enduring more abuse because the social worker, who was working on their case and towards extracting them from their bad situation, has now been taken off their cases.

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. Athene

    Athene Scooby

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    That's true :( It was actually quite immoral to get Doris potentially fired and also to put all of the children in her other cases at risk. Doris was only trying to do what was best for Dawn (based on what she saw) and Buffy wasn't doing a good job at making her home look like a suitable place for Dawn to live- she forgot what day was Doris was meant to come!
    Also Dawn was standing there with a broken arm thanks to Willow, which probably didn't help.
    Although, we were probably just meant to laugh and take what happened to Doris as a joke because that's how the scene played out, if we actually think about it though it stops being that funny.
     
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  3. GraceK

    GraceK Grr Arrg

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    That never sat right with me. It was so mean spirited, and it messed with a woman's livelihood..not to mention how terrible it must have been for her to think she was crazy. She didn't deserve that...she may have been unlovable for sure, but she was sincerely trying to look out for Dawns best interest. She was right too, Buffy was not in ANY way a fit guardian for Dawn at that point.
     
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  4. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    Do you think it would've been better if Dawn HAD temporarily been taken off of Buffy? Not only would it take Dawn out of the picture (she didn't have much to do in Season 6 anyway), but it could've been one of those "things have to get worse before they get better" deals. Having Dawn taken away would've been Buffy's rock bottom. She'd be depressed for a few days and use Spike some more but then she can make the choice to fight back and get things back on track. She could break up with Spike (as she did in "As you were"), she could get her house in order and make it presentable, she could work out a support system with the scoobies and apply to get Dawn back, doing her best at the inspections etc.

    I think that would've been a better message for Season 6 where Buffy CHOOSES to get better and overcome her depressive state, where she works to get her life back on track, and where she is rewarded for doing so by getting Dawn back. Buffy is very passive in Season 6 in comparison to other seasons where she is more proactive.
     
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  5. GraceK

    GraceK Grr Arrg

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    I totally agree with this. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I totally think Dawn should have been taken away temporarily for the better of BOTH of them. Dawn was such a whiny brat, blaming Buffy for everything and not taking the fact that She COULD be taken away seriously. It might have been a serious wake up call for Dawn to grow up and appreciate her sister.

    And let's be honest, Buffy was also in no shape to be responsible for a teenage girl with emotional issues. She was one HUGE train wreck herself in season 6, and with Willows problems as well it really was a very unstable environment for Dawn.
     
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  6. TriBel

    TriBel Scooby

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    I mentioned elsewhere that Buffy's actions were perhaps indicative of the "banality of evil". By this I meant it was a petty unnecessary cruelty - I hadn't picked up on the consequences of her actions until someone else mentioned them. However, it's just occurred to me that the historical context of the quote and its wider meaning is apt. The phrase is Hannah Arendt's and was used to describe Eichmann at his trial. One of the points she was making was that evil people don't always look evil. Hitler seemed to personify evil but Eichmann didn't - there was nothing unusual about him. despite the fact he'd sent thousands of people to the death camps. If I recall his psych tests were normal). The point is - when humans are evil (serial killers etc.) we refer to them as monsters to differentiate them from us. Surely significant in Buffy?

    The second point was - we saw Doris in the office: not resolving important issues in the field but being a bureaucrat. We also saw the bank manager refusing to lend money, the rule and regulations at the DM palace. The visit day at the school. etc. One of the banal evils of the Holocaust was the bureaucratic systems that treated people as things - objects to be counted, costed etc. - not humans. The other thing is - bureaucracy is a result of the Age of Reason - the Enlightenment. Banal evil is associated with light - Spike is saying "come over to the dark". Get my drift? Think Whedon is making a point?

    I'm not saying Doris (and social workers/teachers etc. are evil!) - just that there's a connection with light and the systems (not the people) have a debilitating effect on Buffy.
    --- Double Post Merged, Jul 23, 2017 ---
    GraceK - this is for you - I still haven't got the hang of the reply system so I don't know where it'll land. . - Thanks! This comment I can support - I usually just make stuff up!
     
    GraceK: Very interesting. I look forward to reading more of your posts. :)
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  7. Fool for Buffy

    Fool for Buffy BFF of Sour Patch Kid

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    Sineya
    Almost everything that invisible Buffy does really bothers me. She lives by the fact that she is the law, which I understand, but that is very different from being strictly above the law. I don't care what the specifics are, that has never been and should never be her philosophy, even if she is in a pretty rough state. The social service worker situation was the worst, but I did really hate that lady so I wasn't as bothered by as it I should have been. I don't agree that Dawn should have been taken from Buffy, as that would have brought Buffy farther down into depression rather than give her a wake up call.
     
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  8. Ethan Reigns

    Ethan Reigns Scooby

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    Sineya
    The Children's Aid Society in Canada does the same thing as Child Protective Services in the US and I am not sure of the law there, but you have three levels of wardship here:

    1. Non-ward agreement. This is where a single mother has to temporarily give up the child due to going in for surgery or something like that with no judgement of unsuitability.
    2. Society wardship. This would apply to Dawn where the child is considered to be in danger but the parents can clean up their act and get the child back.
    3. Crown wardship. This is where a child is removed permanently from a home due to chronic danger and put into the foster care "system" which can be just as dangerous.

    Now let's see how the judgement was arrived at. Buffy forgot the meeting. This does not put Dawn in danger. Spike was there. This does not put Dawn in danger. Dawn has a broken arm due to the car crash Willow got into. Willow is no longer a threat to Dawn's health. Dawn is late for school but Xander is taking her. This is not a danger. Doris mistakes the magic herbs for marijuana and cannot be told otherwise. Doris recommends probation meaning a regular inspection of whether Dawn is getting to school on time (or at all), whether there are drugs in the house and who the actual residents are. There is no threat of wardship yet. Back at the office, we see this:

    BOSS: I've, uh, got a few, so if you wanna discuss that case file now...
    MS. KROGER: What? Oh! Oh yes, the, um, Summers file, it's, uh, it's right over here.

    She goes to her desk, picks up a file and gives it to the boss. He begins looking through it.

    MS. KROGER: Uh, it's a fifteen-year-old girl, living under her older sister's guardianship. The house is a complete-

    We don't hear the sentence completed because all the distractions Buffy has started interrupts her, but it doesn't sound good. The first thing to understand is that Child Protective Services got called in most likely by the school as a response to truancy and chronic lateness. Doris recommended probation (or as we call it, an order of supervision) under the circumstances which is a reasonable assessment.

    I do not believe Dawn should be removed. There is no imminent danger to Dawn although a social worker would find the situation suspicious. Dawn's removal would send Buffy into a fugue state similar to that of "The Weight of the World". Buffy later admits she went off the rails and scared some of the people she interacted with, including Dawn:

    WILLOW: How are you doing, post-invisibleness?
    BUFFY: (shrugs) Okay. I still have to do some damage control from my giddy-fest. Dawn was pretty freaked out. (pauses) The whole taking-a-vacation-from-me thing didn't work out so well.
    WILLOW: (nods) Tell me about it.

    Buffy herself admits that she did some things she would have to correct. And she is right about that. I doubt Dawn would do any better in another home and would worry continuously about Buffy, so that was averted. But probation as recommended is reasonable.
     
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  9. Triss

    Triss Andrew's momma

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    I just want to say: I love the way you guys think. You always see things from a unique angle and I love that.

    Personally, I had thought of the immorality of Buffy's actions in Gone but never with such clarity and depth. I actually like that episode because of Andrew being an adorable goofball, but that's just me.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    I disagree. Doris wasn't being a bureaucrat. She would've had to go back to the office to write up her notes on Buffy's inspection and she was also consulting with a colleague over the case eg making sure the right outcome was reached without bias.

    It would've definitely been Buffy's rock bottom for sure, but it could've also given Buffy some breathing space and given her a reason to fight to get better. Throughout season 6, Buffy was very passive rather than pro-active.

    Buffy's claim of the herbs not being weed but magic weed would've raised some eyebrows. Spike's presence and his attempts to help would've made the situation worse especially when Buffy claimed he wasn't her boyfriend, so you've got a seemingly dodgy character coming and going as he pleases plus Dawn spending time at his place. You've also got Buffy saying that just her and Dawn live in the house and then Willow says she's taking a bath which proves another person lives there and that Buffy lied.

    It's a combination of all those things that would've made Doris question Buffy's suitability to look after Dawn. Buffy was flustered because she forgot about the meeting and was caught on the hop but from Doris' point of view, she saw a vulnerable 15 year old girl living in a house with drugs and potentially unsuitable people coming and going as they pleased.

    I don't think Doris was thinking of removing Dawn on grounds that she thought Dawn was at risk of harm from the others, but it was the environment that she deemed unsuitable. Buffy would've been given chance to get it sorted and then there would be follow up inspections to ensure the safe environment was maintained. Buffy just needed some breathing space. Social service don't want to separate families unnecessarily but they have to put the child first. If they saw that Buffy had cleaned up her act and was working towards providing a safe and secure environment for Dawn, then social services wouldn't keep them apart.
     
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  11. thrasherpix

    thrasherpix Scooby

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    Had Dawn been swept away then I'd have considered that something else unrealistic about season 6...well, maybe thinking there are (illegal) drugs on the property MIGHT do it, kids will get removed far faster for that than genuine abuse. And technically they should call Hank Summers, though they certainly couldn't force him to take her or even pay support with him outside the country (IIRC). 'Course wouldn't it be something for Giles to leave so Buffy can "grow up" being immediately followed by Hank Summers coming to clean up Buffy's mess? :D

    Still, it could've been interesting if they followed Dawn a bit, showing the Hellmouth working from a different perspective (perhaps Dawn even gets in trouble but Buffy isn't supposed to be around her, or maybe even Spike comes under the scrutiny of the law after he saves Dawn, but the law and/or foster parents misread the situation). IIRC (I'm not at all certain about this), Go Ask Malice included some kind of foster home that was demonic somehow. I'm sure they could've worked in Dawn's wish that trapped them together somehow.

    If they really wanted to play with it, Doris could appeal to a different group of Scoobies or investigate herself. Maybe Buffy could compare to when she was made to think she killed Katrina (or Ted) and decide to make amends herself, creating an even trickier situation.

    But it's unlikely that a woman like that (including appearance and demeanor) who works for social services is going to get much sympathy from the majority of the audience who'd rather see more Spuffy and Jerry Springer dysfunction...though who knows, maybe it could've sold.
     
  12. TriBel

    TriBel Scooby

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    Sorry - what I meant was in Buffy's eyes she was just a bureaucrat - ie. representative of a system rather than being "Doris" - a human being. I didn't mean the text was representing her as such (I don't think it was). It explains why Buffy could be so cruel - at that level Doris just represented the "rules and reports" Buffy wanted to free herself from.
     
  13. Athena

    Athena Belinda Staff Member

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    Black Thorn
    We talked about this in Episode 11 of the podcast in our reviews of Gone and Get It Done, and Taake brought up a great suggestion that it would have actually worked better if Dawn had been taken away. Buffy acted irresponsibly, she lied to a social worker and whilst she never mistreated Dawn (unless you class ignorance as mistreating), she really didn't need to lie about Willow living in the house, or Spike being her boyfriend. Telling the truth would have made Buffy's situation infinitely better with Doris (apart from the weed!). If Dawn had been taken away, Buffy would have actually understood the consequences of her actions and maybe not harassed a poor woman who was just doing her job (albeit the TV way of doing her job, not the real life way a social worker would do their job!)

    I have a real problem with how Buffy acts throughout the whole episode. Sure, she's depressed, but turning invisible and then acting like a cruel bully isn't the way to prove to anyone that she's in the right state of mind to take guardianship of her teenage sister. :rolleyes:

    I think you bring up a great point about the repercussions of Buffy's actions on other kids who may actually be being abused or mistreated in Sunnydale @DeadlyDuo I guess the point is that Buffy is depressed, and therefore just isn't thinking of others. She's not thinking of Dawn, although she thinks she's thinking of Dawn.
     
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  14. Priceless

    Priceless I didn't forget y'know

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    I really dislike the idea of Dawn being taken away from Buffy. That's just punishing Dawn. She's discovered she's not real, seen her mum die, seen her sister die, and now she's being removed from the only home she's known. Dawn carries enough guilt around as it is, I really wouldn't want to see her carry anymore and she would feel like it was all her fault. I think removing Dawn would not only break Buffy, it would also break Dawn.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2017
  15. thrasherpix

    thrasherpix Scooby

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    At least in the USA, foster care is a crap shoot. There are some really good foster care providers and homes out there, while others are at least better than the alternative. But then there are some remarkably exploitative and abusive ones as well, and some are so horrid that I don't see how they get vetted to be allowed to act as foster parents.

    I'd shudder to think what foster care around the Hellmouth is like. But in season 6 Buffy, the worse the better! :p
     
  16. Dora

    Dora Potential

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    Poor old Buffy no wonder she was flustered that morning when the social Worker arrived her Stalker had just turned up and was touching her up in the Kitchen, not taking no for a answer even when she tried to hit him with a fish slice. It was a disaster , what did the social worker find , Dawn had a broken Arm , there was magic Weed , a yob in a leather jacket ,who dawn visits at his place and Buffy telling lies all points to being in a bad environment for a young teenager .Buffy did not want a relationship with Spike and Spike appreciating Buffy hair and calling her Goldilocks , is the reason Buffy cut her hair which indirectly lead to her getting Zapped what else could go wrong ? . Buffy lost it completely when she was made invisible and did lots of things completely out of Character , The hat , stealing a car, the social worker and going to Spike all things Buffy would not normally do . Interesting idea of Dawn being taken away...with the scoobies so self obsessed they could not see what Buffy was going through, this could have been the wake up call they needed.Not sure Buffy would have gone to Spike her Clinical depression was bad enough already, more , Buffy probable would have committed suicide ....Totally wrong what Buffy did to the social worker as she had Dawns best interest at heart, but she did not know Dawns guardian needed psychological help
     
  17. flow

    flow Will you just hold me ?

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    How do you know ? Is it basically the same system throughout the US ? In Germany every city is responsible for their child protection system. Thus you have a great variety and there are cities where the system really does not work and has not done so for the last decades but there is no way you could say that in general.

    But child welfare should be about the welfare of the child and not about teaching the parents (or the sister who takes care) a lesson.

    Dawn has lost her mother (due to illness and death) and her father (due to him abandoning her). She has two last ties. The one is Buffy, her last family member whom she has a bonding with and the other is her home - the house she grew up, the place where her mother is buried, the school she has attendend for the last years, and the friends that care for her. Janice and her family, Willow, Xander, Tara.....

    That is on the pro side. On the contra side is a visitor with a british accent and a sunlight allergy (and if he is having sex with Buffy than this is actually no business of the social Service) , a nice young woman sharing the house with Buffy and Dawn (more persons available to take care of Dawn) and some weed on the sitting room table. I might have missed it but was it ever confirmed, that this weed was actually drugs ? If so, who used drugs in the house ?

    Back to Topic: As far as I remember, Doris took the rest of the day off. That was it. If there had been a crisis case among her files, that desperately needed immediate action, I doubt, she would have had the time to keep the appointment at the Summers house because there was clearly no emergency there.

    Flow
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
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  18. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    Doris was thinking about Dawn's welfare. It's unlikely Dawn would've been moved out of town because of the school aspect of it. Also, Doris wasn't talking about taking Dawn permanently, just until Buffy got a "safe environment" sorted. Then it's likely Dawn would've been returned, there would be a couple of inspections to ensure everything was still okay then if Social Services were happy, awn's case would've likely been signed off.

    When Doris walked in to Buffy's house, there was a man there who wasn't Buffy's boyfriend and Dawn apparently visited his place, there was a bag of "magic weed" on the table and there was another person in the house who Buffy lied about living there. In assessing the situation, Doris would think it was unsuitable because there was all these factors that Buffy either lied about or had no decent explanation for. If Spike was Buffy's boyfriend, then social services would need to know about him because of the contact he had with Dawn.

    I thought Doris went back to the office? She wanted to consult with her colleague on Dawn's case about her findings, so it's not like she planned to take Dawn there and then. As for other cases, there would be procedures Doris would have to go through on each case. It's no good focussing on one case and ignoring all others if she can't do anything because they're going through the necessary procedures eg if a child was going to be extracted from a situation, that would not be Doris' decision. It would have to go to some higher-up colleagues with the authority to make that decision. In fact, Doris' colleague was probably her manager so she would have to consult with him, and he would have to consult with his manager etc. Whilst that is going on, Doris can't do anything else on that case, therefore why would she ignore all her other cases to focus on that one?

    Buffy's actions could have terrible consequences as it would call Doris' judgement into question on all the cases she had observed on. That kid that was going to be extracted from a bad situation because of Doris' observations, was now going to have their situation reassessed which takes time. For some kids, a day can be the difference between life and death.
     
  19. GraceK

    GraceK Grr Arrg

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    As an American I can honestly say the foster care system here is terrible. Of course there are genuine good people who have good intentions, but IMO it's a pretty crappy system.
     
  20. flow

    flow Will you just hold me ?

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    I wasn`t referring to Doris. i was referring to something Athena said. Please reread my post. You got the meaning wrong.

    So what ? Boyfriend or not, that`s not the social Services Business. A lot of People with Kids have boyfriends, friends, visitors or People, who are even living with them. This is not - for itself - a factor, that threatens the welfare of a child.

    So what ? If there is magic, than there is nothing wrong about magic weed. Was it ever mentioned on BtS, that magic is illegal ? As magic can provide protection against demons and vampires, it seems to be a good thing, not a bad one. If there is no magic or Doris chooses to pretend that there is no Magic (and no demons and no vampires....), than magic weed is just weed. Nothing wrong with that either.

    Nothing wrong with that, as well. The worst thing that actually happened, was, that Buffy lied about Willow living in the house. As there is nothing wrong with Willow living in the house, the lying was unneccesary but is no threat to Dawns welfare.

    Doris went back to the Office and started to work on Dawns file. After the invisible Buffy incident, she took the rest of the day off. not a week or a month. Just the rest of the day. You said yourself, that the decision to take another kid out of a dangerous home Situation wouldn`t have been made by Doris alone. So there are other social workers involved, who can take care.

    What happens if Doris goes on vacation ? Or one of her colleagues ? Do children die because of that ? And if so, is Doris responsible for that ?



    Flow