The easy clichs of the right-on, politically correct mung bean eater were bad enough, without a string of scandals which have besmirched their collective reputation in recent years.
Most recently there was the case of Baby P in Haringey. But this was just one in a tragic series – and we had our own heartrending example of a baby being let down by the authorities here in Edinburgh in 2001, with the death of Caleb Ness.
Probably no-one outside of the families was more upset by these awful cases than the social workers who were directly involved with the children.
But, inevitably, society as a whole blamed everyone involved for letting them down. In some cases this has been justified, but in others it was the system that was wrong rather than those working within it – though it is they who have to cope with public anger and recriminations.
It is with this in mind that we have to examine the case of Louise Tweedie, seven, which we report today.
Did Lawfield Primary School, and then Midlothian's social work department, overreact? Probably – but we can only make that judgement in retrospect, knowing that it was the result of an innocent, childish remark.
Yes, it would have been better if the misunderstanding had been cleared up quicker, and without Louise being kept at school for hours while her parents were grilled at home.
But the error would be so much worse – and the public reaction undoubtedly greater – if such comments were ignored and only came to light after another tragedy. Better safe than sorry.
Upturn in store
ONE swallow doesn't make a summer, but it does look like the sun may be emerging from behind the clouds of recession.
GDP figures are going the right way, albeit slowly, while unemployment – despite an unwelcome increase in Scotland – is not as bad as was predicted a year ago.
Here in the Capital, there seems to be at the very least a slowdown in shop closures. Six shut in the past three months, but that was lower than recent quarters – and five opened.
While there were seven empty units on Princes Street in January, the figure is now four. All are currently being developed for reopening.
There's a long way to go, but things are looking up, in Edinburgh at least.