Perhaps there's some fatal pheromone that causes a group suddenly to focus its aggression on a single individual. Or maybe there's a slightly more complicated, sadder explanation, involving cynical blamestorming by politicians and lazy, sensational reporting by the Fourth Estate.
A child known as Baby P is physically abused and killed by its mother, her boyfriend and his brother. The big fuss, however, is about the social services department and its chief is called on to resign. She points out the fact in the first sentence of this paragraph, refuses to resign and is called arrogant. Then she is dismissed from her post.
Her social workers (we are permitted to know by the media) have an average of 41 cases each, three times the recommended limit. Presumably Ms Shoesmith was not in a position to triple her department's budget and increase the number of her caseworkers by 200%.
Not good enough, you may say; the boss has to take responsibility. But the person who dismissed her was Ed Balls, the "Children's Secretary" yet, for some reason, he didn't resign. Is it a case of "the bucks stops... over there"?
Social work is one of a number of jobs that really, perhaps no-one in their right mind should consider doing.