This article provides an overview of the phenomenon of child soldiers in war theaters around the world. Research studies are used to illustrate the deficits approach frequently applied to young people’s involvement in armed combat. In addition to a review of the legal protections surrounding the involvement of children in armed conflict, this article broadens the discourse on child soldiers. Diversity is introduced to counter the monolithic characterization of the child soldier, including descriptions of the various forms, levels, and dimensions participation may take, affecting all spheres of life—providing a holistic, community-level view not limited to individualized intrapsychic experiences. The subject of the child soldier has been approached through scholarship from a number of disciplines and centers on reintegration practices, the use of children as a military strategy, the process of weaponizing children, children’s moral development, and the use of traditional healing practices. Core social work ethics, along with the discipline’s strengths-based approach to inquiry are employed to further counter the narrative of “brokenness” that is prevalent in these fields. The introduction of resilience factors is used to broaden awareness of the diversity of outcomes among the various cohorts studied. Childhood as a social construction is discussed, along with its Western-informed biases. Humanitarian aid and development bodies have structured educational programs and livelihood opportunities to assist former child soldiers reintegrate into post-conflict societies, and Western understandings of childhood influence the architecture of these efforts. Although protections surrounding the involvement of minors in armed conflict have grown, the use of child soldiers remains. The article uses the Convention of the Rights of the Child along with the African Charter on Children in Armed Conflict to help unpack the disparate meanings of what it means to be a child within various sociocultural contexts.
Jacquelyn C.A. Meshelemiah and Raven E. Lynch
Genocides have persisted around the world for centuries, yet the debate persists about what intentions and subsequent actions constitute an actual genocide. As a result, some crimes against humanity, targeted rape campaigns, and widespread displacement of marginalized groups of people around the globe have not been formally recognized as a genocide by world powers while others have. The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide set out to provide clarity about what constituted a genocide and the corresponding expected behaviors of nations that bear witness to it. Still, even with this United Nations document in place, there remains some debate about genocides. The United States, a superpower on the world stage, did not sign on to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide until 1988 due to a belief that its participation was not necessary as a civilized world leader that had its own checks and balances. More genocides have taken place since the enactment of this 1948 legislation. Genocides that have taken place pre- and post-1948 affirm the need for nations around the world to agree to a set of behaviors that protect targeted groups of people from mass destruction and prescribe punishment for those who perpetrate such atrocities. Although it may seem that identifying genocidal behaviors toward a group of people would be clear and convincing based on witnesses and/or deaths of targeted members, history has shown this not to be the case time and time again. Perpetrators tend to deny such behaviors or claim innocence in the name of self-defense. Regardless of any acknowledgment of wrongdoing, genocides are the world’s greatest crime against humanity.
Tara M. Powell, Shannondora Billiot, and Leia Y. Saltzman
Natural and man-made disasters have become much more frequent since the start of the 21st century. Disasters have numerous deleterious impacts. They disrupt individuals, families, and communities, causing displacement, food insecurity, injury, loss of livelihoods, conflict, and epidemics. The physical and mental health impact of a disaster can have extensive short- and long-term consequences. Immediately after a traumatic event, individuals may experience an array of reactions such as anxiety, depression, acute stress symptoms, shock, dissociation, allergies, injuries, or breathing problems. Given the economic and human impact of disasters, social workers are often quick to respond. Historically, the social work profession has provided services on the individual level, but initiatives have expanded to address community preparedness, response, and recovery. This article will explore the complexities of disaster response and recovery. Health and mental health impacts will be examined. Resilience and posttraumatic growth will then be discussed, exploring how individuals overcome adversity and trauma. Individual and community level preparedness mitigation, response, and recovery will explore how the field of social work has evolved as disasters have increased. Followed by an exploration of how social work has evolved to develop individual and community level preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery activities as disasters have increased. Finally, the article will examine special populations, including those with disabilities, children, indigenous people, older adults, and social service workers in all phases of disasters. As disasters grow more frequent it is vital for social work professionals to improve their efforts. We will conclude the chapter by examining the coordinated efforts the social work profession is involved in to help communities recover and even thrive after a traumatic event.
M. Jenise Comer and Joyce A. Bell
The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the regulation of social work practice. The Association was created to protect clients and client systems from harm caused by incompetent, unethical, or unlicensed social work practice. The primary and most important responsibility of ASWB is to develop and maintain a national exam that is valid, reliable, and legally defensible. The Association contracts with a test vendor to administer the exam in an identical, secure environment to social work candidates for licensure in the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Island, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia. Accomplishing the task of providing a reliable and valid exam involves a complex process of recruiting and training. The volunteers and staff are competent to complete the arduous task of constructing and reviewing different forms of the exam for each level of licensure. The test vendor and a consulting psychometrician provide supervision and analysis of test data to confirm the test performs at or above industry standards for a high stakes exam, which determines entry to practice based on a passing score. ASWB staff members also engage in several activities that support state and provincial boards to advance regulation and safe practice. The purpose, mission, and history of ASWB will be presented in detail, along with focused attention on the exam and additional services provided to the regulatory community. Future issues will identify the Board of Director’s 2019 Strategic plan. Opportunities, challenges, and threats to professional regulation include attention to international social work practice regulation, license mobility, and deregulation.
At its 2015 General Assembly, the United Nations formulated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to emergize its Member nations and social workers practicing in these countries to engage in environmentally sustainable social and economic development leaving no one behind. At the core of SDGs is the conviction that protecting planet Earth is possible by working collectively and ensuring that all human beings are able to realize their full potentials. The charges include solving a wide range of environmental, economic, and social problems including poverty, hunger, violence, and discrimination by 2030. The SDGs are inclusive of all people; they have galvanized all Member countries and their policy makers and practitioners, including social workers, to strive toward the common goals. Progress has been made from previous initiatives, but there are still challenges ahead. The first five SDGs are particularly relevant to social workers, who have an important role to play in alleviating poverty, promoting health and education, and empowering women and girls.
Amber Sutton, Haley Beech, and Debra Nelson-Gardell
Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects millions of individuals yearly, both domestically and globally. Direct linkages exist between experiencing IPV and adverse health outcomes. No matter the type of service arena, social workers encounter IPV; for that reason, all social workers need to be familiar with IPV, its consequences, and potential interventions. One form of IPV that is often undetected and underreported is reproductive coercion (RC). Reproductive coercion, a relatively new term, focuses on birth control sabotage and pregnancy coercion. Reproductive coercion is directly associated with IPV in that power and control are maintained by stripping away autonomy and decision-making ability concerning one’s reproductive and sexual health. Although many victims of IPV will experience this type of sexual abuse, RC is a less discussed form of violence and is often difficult to detect through traditional screening processes, further delaying effective intervention. Reproductive coercion affects the overall emotional, physical, and psychological health of survivors, therefore social workers need to be able to identify specific RC behaviors and know how to appropriately intervene and advocate. A thorough review of the existing literature on the link between IPV and RC has been organized into practical application methods that social workers can use to inform micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice. All practice methods are designed to aid in reducing harm caused by RC and to help increase survivors’ control over their own bodies and reproductive health. Such applications will include screening for potential abuse, recognizing risk and protective factors, introducing culturally sensitive interventions, and policy implications and recommendations.
Colita Nichols Fairfax
Marriage remains a central institution among all races and ethnic groups. Legalized marriages have become an important aspect of family life among LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, or intersex, asexual or allied) community. Given the cultural significance that marriages underscore in all communities, applied social scientists should have access to the most appropriate and affirming interventions. By having knowledge about and access to a wealth of marital interventions, social workers, family therapists, community developers, counselors will be empowered to attend to the needs of couples who desire to experience purposeful marriages. This in turn will strengthen family and community life for all who value intimacy. This article explores a brief history of marriage in America, specifics with regards to cultural groups, and a variety of interventions that may be reproduced in best practice approaches from a conflict theory lens.
M. Aryana Bryan, Valerie Hruschak, Cory Dennis, Daniel Rosen, and Gerald Cochran
Opioid-related deaths by overdoses quadrupled in the United States from the years 1999 to 2015. This rise in mortality predominately occurred in the wake of historic changes in pain management practices and aggressive marketing of opioid medications such as oxycontin. Prescription opioid misuse and subsequent addiction spilled over to heroin and fentanyl for many. This drug epidemic differed from others in its impact among non-Hispanic whites, leading to drastic changes in how the United States views addiction and chooses to respond. This article offers an overview of opioid use disorder (OUD), its treatment and its relationship with pain. It also discusses special populations affected and provides insight into future directions for research and social work practice surrounding opioid management in the United States. Because of the profession’s emphasis on the person and social environment as well as its focus on vulnerable and oppressed populations, social work plays a critical role in addressing the crisis.
Strained police-community relations are not new to distressed and black communities. However, recent decades of modern-day policing have become a challenging, stressful job for officers in terms of safety and social order, job performance, and being recorded (often on cell phones) and quickly judged by the public. This article looks at racial profiling, implicit bias, and how the heavy hand of order-maintenance policing is used to the detriment of black communities, especially black males. The relevance of contact theory will be discussed in terms of its relevance for reaching mutual ground between black males and police officers. This article offers practical strategies for (a) social workers (community practitioners), (b) black males and citizens of color , and ( c) police officers themselves. For officers specifically, this potential awareness can lead to healthier, neutral experiences with black males leading to positive policing of black communities.
Selena T. Rodgers
Domestic violence is a public health problem shown to inflict severe mental and physical injury on millions of individuals and has considerable social costs. Absent from the literature is an examination of womanism ideologies, which provide a greater understanding of the full praxis that black women who experience domestic violence engage. Drawing from initial conceptualizations of womanism and later contributions of Africana womanism, this article brings into focus pervasive acts of violence perpetrated against black women, their racial loyalty to protect black men, and the limitations of existing domestic violence models and interventions. This entry addresses how these three interconnected areas are treated within the conceptual framework of womanism. An overview of violence against black women reveals the historical and contemporary forms of knowledge and praxis that have sought to overcome the social problem of intimate partner abuse, including the social construction of controlling images and the Power and Control Wheel (The Duluth Model). This entry also examines the prevalence of violence perpetrated against black women and compounding factors. In addition, this author considers the Violence Against Women Act and its consequences on laws and policies that affect the race, gender, and class experiences of black women coping with domestic violence. Also analyzed is the quintessential role of demographics, the culture of domestic violence, and international debates about womanism, including how black women intellectuals are prioritizing race-empowerment perspectives and a reference point to articulate healthy black relationships are prioritized. The article also reviews social work practice with black women victims/survivors of domestic violence and their families.