Social workers' experiences of the court process : an examination of the perspectives of social workers in the Durban Metropolitan area.
Forensic social work is a fairly new concept in the South African context. However, the activities of forensic social work began with the dawn of the profession itself. In recent times the demand for social workers in court has spiraled. The researcher endeavored to explore the perceptions and experiences of social workers functioning in the courts. Further, the problems that they encountered were also examined. The results of this qualitative study stem from in-depth interviews with thirteen social workers. The main findings indicate that the majority of social workers had not received any training in legal processes prior to their first experience in court. Social workers also perceived legal officials to be lacking in training in respect of child related issues. Social workers are generally called to testify in relation to their expertise of a specific child, and not in relation to their expertise of subject matter. In view of the demands placed upon social workers to appear in court, it is recommended that social workers endeavor to organise themselves into a group that can lobby for the recognition of social workers as experts. It is the researcher's contention that such a concerted effort by social workers will improve the status of the profession in the legal system.