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Article

Homelessness, with poverty and housing inaccessibility as its underlying structural drivers, has an enduring presence in all Western nations. While governments traditionally focus on supporting adults, families, and youth out of homelessness, increasingly attention is being turned to the significant number of children under 18 years who experience homelessness alone without an accompanying parent or guardian. Unaccompanied children commonly leave home early against the backdrop of family conflict and breakdown, domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, and neglect. They may sleep rough without shelter, couch-surf between extended family members, friends, and acquaintances, and access those youth refuges that will accommodate them. Without access to the consistent care of a parent or guardian, unaccompanied homeless children experience unique personal, systemic, and structural vulnerabilities that, without adequate developmentally appropriate intervention, will result in a range of physical, psychological, social, and educational harms. Schools, as the sole universal statutory service for children, can be central in the immediate safeguarding of children and their referral to services for additional supports. Schools can also offer a pathway into lifelong learning, employment, and community connectedness that is crucial to reducing poverty and enabling wellbeing and social inclusion. As such, schools have a key role to play in responding to unaccompanied homeless children by ensuring equitable access to education and engaging with the international shift toward child and youth homelessness prevention and early intervention. Research consistently suggests school-based programs are key to identifying children at risk, preventing homelessness, and improving learning outcomes for those who do experience homelessness. At a minimum, schools can intervene in educational harms, such as low attainment and early school leaving, that are associated with high mobility, a lack of support, cumulative trauma, and stigma. Addressing administrative and practical barriers to homeless children’s school access and attendance, implementing trauma-informed practice, and increasing awareness of homelessness are essential starting points. Further, the trend of articulating child wellbeing as a shared, cross-sector goal has increasingly created opportunities for schools, in collaboration with social services, to become innovative homelessness prevention and early intervention hubs that strengthen children’s outcomes.

Article

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over half of the 25.4 million refugees worldwide are children under the age of 18. Given the instability and precariousness that displaced persons may experience, the provision of education for these children is of significant concern. Interaction between the culture of the host society and the cultures of immigrants, including experiences related to education, is a key aspect of transitioning to a new national environment. These interactions may be particularly salient for displaced populations, considering the particular circumstances and life trajectories that are characteristic of refugees and generally not shared by other immigrant groups. Empirical research on refugee children’s education in resettlement countries highlights the significance of acculturative processes for experiences and outcomes of schooling, as well as the importance of educational settings in facilitating cultural interaction—that is, the interlocking and complementary nature of acculturation and education. Education and cultural navigation are linked in significant ways, such that even as education facilitates the cultural exposure and integration of newcomer individuals to a receiving society, acculturation itself is associated with adaptation to the school context and academic experiences. In other words, educational and acculturative processes can facilitate and reinforce each other. Additional research that examines more specifically processes of cultural navigation by refugee children in particular can further illuminate the factors that shape their experience of education in resettlement contexts.

Article

Adolescent psychology and mental health needs in China are part of an interdisciplinary area of research. In this area of research, macro and micro processes are closely linked; biological, cultural, and socio-structural influences tightly intertwined; and patterns identified in other societies fall apart due to the impact of powerful societal forces on individual psychology. As a result, there has been a fundamental and long-lasting split between the idea that “Chinese adolescent psychology” should be a distinctive science within China, addressing issues specific to the circumstances of Chinese children and families, and the argument that it should contribute to a universal theory of human development by documenting its applications to Chinese societies. The problem of the first idea lies in its assumption of cultural relativism or the incommensurability of the human experience of growing up in particular sociocultural contexts. In contrast, the problem of the second argument lies in its failure to ask what is “universal,” when a universal theory is applicable to China, and when it may not be. Arguably, adolescents in all cultures carry vulnerabilities and strengths as they go through the process of major biological and psychological transitions. Certain psychosocial needs, such as the needs for self-exploration, quality peer relationship, and continuous guidance and support from adults, are shared by adolescents across the world, albeit through different forms. When their basic needs are neglected by ideology-driven policies and practices that are carried to an extreme extent, youth mental health is seriously threatened. It is important for researchers not only to go beyond the dichotomous view of the field by taking an ecological approach and multidisciplinary perspectives to investigate the salient issues in adolescent psychology and mental health needs in their specific sociocultural context, but also to consider their broader implications for understanding universally relevant questions about success and sacrifice in human and social development.

Article

Latinx curriculum theorizing is a constellation of curriculum scholarship rooted in the histories, knowledges, and everyday lives of peoples from across the Latin American diaspora. It is a framework that pushes back against demonizing stereotypes, caricatures, and colonial generalizations of an entire diaspora. Born out of resistance and liberation, it comes from the histories and practices of Latinx peoples in creating counternarratives, education reform, and activism. Specifically, Latinx curriculum theorizing includes the following: (a) Latinidad as a collective point of entry, (b) Latinx as a term, (c) history and circumstance as curricular knowledge, (d) counternarratives and testimonio as curriculum theorizing, (e) cultural knowledges of Latinx students and community as theory, (f) cultural knowledges of Latinx teachers, and (g) Latinx communities generating critical pedagogies and education initiatives. Latinx curriculum theorizing draws from a variety of Latinx philosophical traditions, including critical race theory, Latina feminist philosophy, Latinx and Chicanx studies, and various strands of Latin American, Continental, Caribbean, and Africana philosophy. While scholars who do Latinx curriculum theorizing are trained in theories such as critical race theory, feminist theory, and post- and decolonial theories, because of the subject matter and the people, this framework is the next step up in putting such foundational theories into conversation with one another. It is therefore a newly emerging framework, in the early 21st century, because it draws upon all these perspectives to account for a very transitionary, contradictory, and messy Latinx experience. What makes something distinctly Latinx curriculum is an engagement with a state of transition and liminal spaces, both pedagogically and epistemologically, with the varied and multilayered trajectories of Latin American-origin realities. Far from being a monolithic and static framework, Latinx curriculum theorizing is itself malleable, contested, and in transition. Just as Latinx itself is a contested term within academic and activist spaces, Latinx curriculum theorizing is a point of contestation that makes it a framework with porous boundaries that can explain and even redefine the Latinx educational experience. As such, Latinx curriculum lends itself to nuanced analysis and praxis for issues of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, language, migration, racial hierarchies, and colonial legacies. This type of curriculum theorizing also points to power structures from multiple social locations and offers pathways for social change and liberation.

Article

When children are born, they are typically assigned a sex, male or female, based on the appearance of external genitalia. The gender of the newborn is assumed based on the assigned sex. Researchers debate the origins of gender and whether gender is largely biologically based or socially constructed. Sociologists tend to argue that children learn about their gender from their parents and experiences at school through a process known as gender role socialization, whereas medical discourses argue that one’s gender should be aligned with one’s assigned sex. Schools are one of the first sites outside the home where researchers have studied the way gender nonconforming and trans children and youth face discrimination and harassment. Education research about trans youth documents the need for trans youth to have a voice in school policies and practices. Trans adults offer a wide range of theories about gender and critique traditional models of gender for their failure to capture the complexity, fluidity, and diversity of gender experiences and identities. Trans youth have yet to enter these conversations and their gender, access to treatment and services, and rights are often determined by medical discourses about gender and gender identity development. In the 21st century, the parents and families of trans youth are beginning to play an important role in advocating for and supporting the needs of their trans child. Trans identity development models are shaped by theories about gender and are often designed as a stage model. In 2004, Aaron Devor created the first trans identity development model based on the CASS model that Viviane Cass developed in 1979. Scholars have critiqued these models for their rigid conceptualization of gender, the linear structure of stages in these models, and the lack of recognition of the role race, class, disability, and sexuality have in the complexity of gender. Scholars have also remarked on the way these models were developed for trans adults and fail to conceptualize trans youth. Theories about gender and gender identity development have shaped gender models used in the treatment of gender nonconforming children. The gender affirmative model takes a progressive approach to this treatment, allowing children and youth to be experts on their gender and to be supported in socially transitioning at any age. Research about gender and gender identity development among trans youth in North America is increasingly recognizing the need to center the voices and needs of young trans people.

Article

In the United States, gender and health in adolescence are sites of contestation and conflict marked by both hyperrepresentations and absences. Youth who are multiply marginalized by interlocking systems of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and so on are overrepresented in cultural and policy domains as “at risk” for negative health outcomes. At the same time, absences surrounding young people’s complex health needs and experiences abound in schools, healthcare settings, families, and the media. For instance, debates around sex education and teen pregnancy prevention have dominated the policy landscape for decades, with no signs of receding any time soon. Missing from these debates has been an analysis of how the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality structure the health outcomes and educational experiences of diverse youth. Likewise, queer, transgender, and gender-expansive youth are overrepresented in discussions about bullying to the detriment of the social structural factors that produce poor mental health outcomes. Understanding how gender and health play out in the lives of adolescents, as well as at the level of social institutions and structures, is central to teasing out the dynamics of gender, health, and social inequalities.

Article

Alanna Goldstein

Peer-led and youth-led sex education primarily involves young people teaching other young people about sex, sexuality, and sexual health. This approach gained in popularity during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s–1990s, as community organizations sought to address the unique sexual health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth, many of whom had been underserved in traditional sex education spaces. Since then, peer-led and youth-led sex education pedagogies have been implemented by researchers, educators, and community organizations working across a range of sites around the globe. Peer-led and youth-led sex education generally draws on assumptions that young people are better situated than adults to talk to their peers about sexual health and/or to model positive sexual health behavior. However, some have noted that this perspective constructs young people as a homogenous group and ignores the ways in which sexuality and sexual health intersects with other social factors. Furthermore, there is a general lack of consensus across interventions around who constitutes a “peer” and what constitutes “peer-led” sex education, resulting in the development of interventions that at times tokenize young people, without engaging them in meaningful ways. As a result, evaluations of many peer- and youth-led sex education pedagogies suggest that even as these pedagogies improve young people’s knowledge of sexual health-related topics, they often don’t result in long-term sexual health behavior change. However, many evaluations of peer- and youth-led sex education pedagogies do suggest that acting as a peer educator is of immense benefit to those who take on this role, pointing to the need for program developers to reconsider what effective sex education pedagogy might look like. A “social ecology” or “systems thinking” approach to youth sexual health may provide alternative models for thinking about the future of peer-led and youth-led sex education. These approaches don’t task peer- and youth-led sex education with the sole responsibility of changing young people’s sexual health-related outcomes, but rather situate peer-led sex education as one potential node in the larger confluence of factors that shape and constrain young people’s sexual health.

Article

School-based sexuality education has existed in various forms since the 1800s. Sexuality education researchers have recently turned to feminist new materialist thought to rethink debates that occupy this field. These debates include whether sexuality education should be taught at school, who should teach it, and what constitutes appropriate content. While these issues have been important historically, some sexuality researchers view them as stifling other possibilities for teaching and generating knowledge in this field. Feminist new materialism emerges from a broader ontological turn within the social sciences and humanities that diverges from social constructionist accounts of the world. This work is associated with scholars such as Barad, Bennett, Haraway, and Braidotti and draws on thinking from Deleuze and Guattari. Employing theoretical tools, such as “intra-action,” “onto-epistemology,” and “agentic matter,” feminist new materialism reconceptualizes the nature of sexuality education research. These concepts highlight the anthropocentric (human-centered) nature of sexuality education research and practice. Feminist new materialisms encourage us to think about what the sexuality curriculum might look like when humans are not at its core, nor bestowed with the power to control themselves and the world. These questions have profound implications for how we teach aspects of sexuality underpinned by these assumptions, such as safer sex and sexual consent. Ultimately, feminist new materialism encourages us to question whether issues such as prevention of sexually transmissible infections and unplanned pregnancy should remain the conventional foci of this subject.

Article

Elizabeth J. Meyer

The field of bullying research initially paid minimal attention to the influences of gender role expectations (masculinity, femininity, and gender role conformity), as well as heteronormativity, cisnormativity, homophobia, and transphobia in understanding the phenomenon. This has shifted since the late 2000s, when more research emerged that analyzes gender as an influential factor for understanding bullying dynamics in schools. More recent studies have focused on LGBTQ youth, issues of disability, and racialized identities, as well as the impacts of online interactions. When examining gender and bullying, it is important to also examine related forms of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, dating violence, and other forms of sexual and violent assault such as transphobic violence and murder. In order to more effectively support schools and professionals working to reduce bullying, there must be a deeper understanding of what is currently known about gender and bullying, what works to reduce it in schools, and what still needs more attention in the research literature.

Article

Julia Sinclair-Palm

Youth organizing is a form of civic engagement and activism. It offers a way for young people to identify and address social inequalities impacting their local and global communities. Youth are provided opportunities to learn about power structures and pathways to create meaningful change to support their communities. In formal institutional approaches, youth organizing is understood as part of positive youth development and a strategy to train young people about civic society and democracy. Youth organizing is also seen as a way for young people to seek support, empowerment, and resources and to develop their leadership capacity. Central to the field of youth organizing are questions on the role of youth within youth organizing. Researchers examine the leadership structure within youth organizations, the acquisition of resources for the organization, the process for identifying issues that the organization will address, and how youth experience their involvement. Youth organizing has been especially important for young marginalized people who may feel isolated and face harassment and discrimination. Researchers have extensively documented how youth organizing by people of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer and questioning (LGBTQ) young people in North America have played a large role in fights for social justice. However, it was not until the mid-20th century that queer and trans youth started organizing in groups connected by their shared experiences and identities related to their sexuality and gender. The development of Gay–Straight Alliances (GSAs) in schools and debates about sexuality education in schools provide examples for exploring LGTBQ youth organizing in the 21st century.