It is 4pm on a crisp November afternoon in 1978. I am pacing up and down the road outside the house I intend to visit to investigate a complaint of alleged child abuse. I am a student social worker and it is my first ever home visit. I can hear Elvis Presley’s ‘The Wonder of You’ blaring from behind the front door. I am feeling terrified, anxiously searching my mind to remember what I am supposed to say once the door is answered. And then it is. I check if it is ‘Mrs Smith’ that I am speaking to and announce who I am and she lets me in. I explain why I am there and Mrs Smith immediately gets upset and starts crying and gets angry that someone has reported her for allegedly leaving her daughter in the home alone. The six-year-old girl who is the subject of the referral is there. I am relieved, as it has been drummed into me that my priority is to see the child and her presence means that I can achieve this on this visit, rather than having to come back another time. I try to calm the atmosphere by suggesting we sit down and discuss things, to which Mrs Smith agrees. We go through the substance of the complaint and she denies there are any problems. I gather myself and ask to see around the home, including upstairs and the bedrooms.
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