2018, 15th August, began with a period of national awakening to the phenomenon on kidnapping when it was discovered that three (3) Takoradi girls had been abducted: namely, Priscilla Mantebea Koranchie, Priscilla Blessing Bentum and Ruth Love Quayson. Since then, various institutions including the Ghana Police Service, media houses and civil society organizations continue to make deliberate efforts to rescue the girls and reintegrate them with their families and communities. This article upholds the tremendous efforts made by all and sundry towards finding and rescuing the missing girls. Additionally, this piece attempts to bring to bear the indispensable role of Social Workers to augment earlier efforts made, including providing counselling services to calm fears and tempers as well as sustain the hope of the families and communities involved.
Madam Shilla Backman, (Public Relations Officer: Ghana Police Service) recently indicated that the families of the missing girls have been assigned liaison officers from the Ghana Police Service to serve as a contact between the Police and the families. One would seek to understand further, the nature and scope of professional knowhow with which these liaison officers operate; considering claims by the affected families that their assigned liaison personnel are inaccessible.
Analysing from a technical and professional viewpoint, it is apparent that the sensitive nature of the case involves liaison officers in the capacity of Social Workers: that branch of the humanities that seeks to inculcate all other human related dealings, including psychology, cultural dynamics, welfare policies and sociology. Unfortunately, however, the noble profession has been relegated to the background in the face of sensitive cases such as trafficking and abduction. Social Workers serving as liaison officers in such cases occupy themselves with working with individuals, families, communities and organizations to devise strategies aimed at stabilising the psychological states of all parties involved in such traumatic situations. For this reason, the Ghana Police Service’s (GPS’s) primary preoccupation should be with conducting investigations and the rescue of the kidnapped girls whilst accurately partnering the Department of Social Welfare in dealings with the affected families and communities.
Social workers are highly trained professionals responsible for the total functioning of individuals, groups, families and communities. These professionals can conduct a comprehensive Bi-psycho-social assessment of families and community members in order to understand the psychological makeup of the parties involved. This information is crucial in designing relevant intervention strategies to adopt in aiding them obtain and sustaining hope while the Police works at rescuing the girls. Without hope and confidence in the security systems, affected families and community members will not trust the abilities of the police in rescuing the girls. They may adversely thwart sensitive strategies by the security agencies in retrieving the lost girls and bringing the criminals to book. Extensively, families suffering from traumatic situations involving domestic violence and abduction tend to in reverse, torture the children and vulnerable involved in the case, seeing as they are viewed as the cause of the turmoil in the first place. Hence, the Social Worker conducts various levels of assessments aimed at psychologically preparing the affected families and communities for the arrival of the girls.
To this end, the affected families need counselling from Social Workers. Counselling is not a cheap talk or speaking words of encouragement to people. It requires sophisticated skills of empathy and a collaborative professional relationship between the social worker and the clients [the affected families and community actors], to constitute an action plan through which concretised solutions are derived. By this, the Social Worker purposefully engages clients to understand the perspectives of the kidnapping case and work at creating a new perspective.
In a nut shell, the expectation of the Theory-Division of Labour instructs that, experts of specific fields are given opportunity to take charge of their role and empower partnering organisations to periodically make inputs where necessary. Considering the case under review, it is recommended that the Ghana Police Service takes absolute control of the investigation and rescue of the kidnapped girls, as well as invite the Department of Social Welfare to take charge of liaising with the affected families and communities. Social workers are here to implement national strategies of protection of citizens, therefore all government agencies are urged to collaborate with the noble profession and its associate organizations, governmental or civil society.
GILBERT ASAMOAH AYEBENG
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