Gross: Attack nearly claims life of WA social worker

Dec 11, 2022, 6:17 AM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 2:28 pm
social worker...
(Photo courtesy of Puyallup Police Department)
(Photo courtesy of Puyallup Police Department)

A social worker was beaten within inches of her life, yet she wants to return to work, despite a system that put her in a horrible position and left her both physically and mentally rattled.

The social worker requested AM 770 KTTH not to use her name.

The victim and multiple family members spoke at a recent meeting of the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families Oversight Committee (DCYF).

“Our family has been severely impacted by this because we love our sister so much,” one of the victim’s sisters said at the meeting. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that this young man almost took her from our family.”

The suspect is 16 years old. He has a history with police run-ins with multiple violent charges on his record. He had received a short-term placement hotel in Puyallup.

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“As I was being assaulted, the thoughts that were running through my mind is don’t lose consciousness,” the victim recounted. “Stay awake so you can stay alive.”

The victim was beaten by an alleged teenager in an attack that lasted 15 minutes. She was punched and choked. He threatened to end her life. She was dragged by her hair to a third-story window.

A security guard at the hotel witnessed what was happening and was able to hold off the boy and protect the social worker until further help arrived.

The victim is an experienced social worker who has been working for 16 years in Washington state. She has an incredible heart for her work.

Even after the assault, while dealing with the effects of a concussion, she is still advocating for her attacker — acknowledging that he and others are not safe.

“Social workers are bred for crisis – give us a crisis,” she said. “We will guide a family through it and come out on the other side. But [after] years of crises with no resources, no support – you are going to end up with a depleted workforce. And those who are still present and still showing up so demoralized and so fearful for their own lives – that meaningful change cannot be affected.”

Where are the answers to this? How does this system get fixed for everyone involved?

“I think there are just too many issues that continually come on the table that we need to put out here and take a look at,” said State Rep. Thomas Dent (R-Moses Lake).

“I am very concerned that we are not making some changes here.” Dent went on to say. “I’m beginning to see a pattern here … I’m really motivated to see if we can do something about it.”

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Multiple other workers have come forward to the DCYF oversight committee to report issues.

DCYF released a statement that acknowledged the essential role of social workers. It said in part, “we work very hard not to have them be at needless personal risk and are taking steps to resolve the situation that results in staff being placed in dangerous situations to care for youth.”

The kids are being failed by the system, and now the workers are too.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Gross: Attack nearly claims life of WA social worker