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Article

Children’s Rights  

Anne Blumenthal and Karen M. Staller

Through policies at the international, national, and state levels, social workers are often directed to respect children’s rights while also ensuring their best interests. The concept of children’s rights is diffuse and can be difficult to operationalize in practice. Children’s rights can refer to moral rights—basic human rights regardless of age or station—and legal rights, those awarded based on chronological age or level of maturity. They are conceptualized in three categories: protection rights (the right to be free from harm and exploitation), provision rights (the right to have their basic needs met), and participation rights (the right to have a say). Children’s rights can conflict with family autonomy, and state intervention in the United States is based on the common law doctrine of parens patriae. The United Nations’ (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most comprehensive statement of children’s rights to date and provides the framework for child-related policies in UN member countries, except the United States. In many cases, social workers are the formal and informal implementation arm of children’s rights frameworks, ensuring that children are protected, provided for, and have participation.

Article

Child Soldiers  

Julie Guyot-Diangone

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.

Article

Citizen Participation  

Martha Lucia Garcia and Yossi Korazim-Kőrösy

Citizen participation (CP) is at the root of democracy and the aspiration that everyone has an equal opportunity and voice in governance. For social workers, guaranteeing CP is a vehicle through which a core value of the profession’s code of ethics may be fulfilled, that is, to “enhance client’s capacity and opportunity to change and address their own needs”. A brief history of CP as well as the rationales for CP as a practice of social work are discussed. Regardless of the difficulties in achieving CP, it is a critical component to social work practice, that enable social workers to fulfill the ethical commitment of inclusion, social justice and equity. A framework or road map for social work practitioners embarking on a journey of ethical practice, is provided. While the focus is on practice examples in the United States, the democratic goals of inclusion and empowerment of marginalized and traditionally oppressed communities are global.

Article

Civil Liberties  

Theodore J. Stein

Civil liberties refer to certain freedoms granted to all citizens. They have been established as bills of rights in the constitutions of such countries as the United States, India, South Africa, and Great Britain. Civil rights differ from civil liberties in that the former are expressed in statutes enacted by legislative bodies. Civil liberties limit the state's power to interfere in the lives of its citizens, whereas civil rights take a more proactive role to ensure that all citizens have equal protection. Civil liberties are most endangered during national emergencies when governments infringe on individual liberties to safeguard the nation.

Article

Civil Rights  

Tanya Smith Brice, Denise McLane-Davison, and Tyler A. Brice

Civil rights is the protection of citizens from infringement by governmental entities and the extension of basic rights. Civil rights are based on citizenship status. The 14th Amendment establishes U.S. citizenship that has been extended throughout history to different groups. Civil rights legislation is grounded in this question of citizenship. As social workers, it is important that we understand this relationship and advocate to continue broadening the constitutional promise of “equal protection under the laws” to all who reside within the United States.

Article

Civil Society  

Kristin M. Ferguson

Considerable definitional vagueness exists regarding civil society, in part due to the concept's long history and multiple underlying schools of thought. Issues of multiculturalism and social justice are central to the term. Civil society is also a global concept, referring to the supranational sphere. The social work profession can benefit from collaborative action with local civil society associations in working to dismantle structural inequality and enhance opportunities for disadvantaged populations.

Article

Climate Change and Macro Social Work  

Kelly Smith

The compounding and escalating effects of environmental degradation, which include climate change, threaten the human-earth system with severe implications for the future of macro social work. Systems of power and oppression, including racial, economic, and gendered inequities, are exacerbated by environmental changes with significant impacts on human rights, public health, and various measures of well-being. While climate change is often not the root cause of inequality, it compounds existing inequities, making it substantially more difficult for marginalized populations to rebound from escalations of the myriad acute and chronic consequences due to climate change and environmental collapse. Experiences of environmental change consistently highlight the expanding resource and resiliency gaps among vulnerable populations, leading to disproportionate repercussions felt initially and, to an arduous degree, by marginalized groups. Simultaneously, these circumstances create opportunities for social workers to intervene and advance the causes of social justice. Macro-level interventions and climate solutions can emerge from social work development and support of policies and interventions that overcome short-term thinking to produce beneficial outcomes for populations and the environment by building capacity in the human-earth system and economic policy systems. Social work is ideally situated to confront climate change by balancing immediate needs with long-term ecological sustainability and relying on its historical understanding of systems to improve policy development and practical climate change mitigation approaches.

Article

Community Economic Development  

Steven D. Soifer and Joseph B. McNeely

The basic concepts and history of community economic development (CED) span from the 1960s to the present, during which there have been four different waves of CED. During this time period, practitioners in the field have worked with limited resources to help rebuild low-to-moderate-income communities in the United States. There are particular values, theories, strategies, tactics, and programs used to bring about change at the community level. The accomplishments in the CED field are many, and social workers have played a role in helping with community building at the neighborhood, city, county, state and federal levels.

Article

Community Healing and Reconciliation  

Joshua Kirven and George Jacinto

Community healing and reconciliation have been a focus of many nations in response to civil war, genocide, and other conflicts. There also has been an increase in the number of high-profile murders of young African Americans at the hands of law enforcement in the United States. In 2020 this problem was even more real and growing with the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Ahmaud Arbery. These tragic incidents have led to public outcry, civil unrest, and police protests for social change moving from a threshold of peaceful assemblies to violent confrontations across the United States causing the world to take notice and posit the question, “do Black lives really matter?” To answer this question a critical overview of gun violence, a reflective aftermath of the killings of two African American youths in Sanford, Florida and Cleveland, Ohio, and the community’s voice and reaction and the community’s resiliency towards healing and reconciliation are examined. Community model initiatives are introduced of the two cities affected in bridging police-community relations through acknowledging and addressing historical injustices with police and systematic racism and how they attempted to bring positive change, healing and reconciliation.

Article

Community Organizing  

Geoffrey W. Wilkinson, Lee Staples, Ashley Slay, and Iliana Panameño

Community organizing centers the leadership of community members in developing and controlling organizations created to express, sustain, and build community power through action for social justice. It is distinguished from other forms of community practice by the ethos, “nothing about us without us,” and may combine elements of community development, direct action, popular education, and community action research. Community organizing promotes individual and collective empowerment. It is practiced in communities of geography, identity, shared experience, and other arenas. In the United States, organizing takes three major approaches to building sustainable bases of community power—organizations formed through individual membership, institutional networks, and coalitions. Innovations in community organizing arising particularly from the leadership of women and people of color—known as transformational organizing—take an intersectional approach to addressing racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of systemic oppression while also addressing the personal and social needs of community members. Organizing increasingly takes advantage of internet technology and is effective for influencing legislation and electoral politics, as well as a wide range of community-based issues.

Article

Community: Practice Interventions  

Anne Williford and Marie Villescas Zamzow

This article offers an introduction to macro social work practice interventions. Specifically, it seeks to: (a) identify the difference between direct service (micro) and macro practice; (b) describe historical and contemporary foundations for macro practice; (c) establish a connection between macro practice and core social work values; (d) describe specific examples of macro social work practice using 21st-century social justice issues as exemplars; and (e) identify roles needed for macro social work practice. This article emphasizes the need for macro social work practice to create much needed change in the areas of social, environmental, and economic justice. It will examine the trend in social work that has increasingly placed emphasis and value on micro practice, which has marginalized macro-level social work as a result. Society continues to confront seemingly intractable social justice issues and is, in the early 21st century, experiencing a critical reckoning of how systems of oppression continue to exact violence against vulnerable populations. This article uses examples of social, environmental, and economic justice issues with specific recommendations on how to adopt an anti-oppressive macro practice framework.

Article

Community Resilience  

Cindy Sousa and Tamarah Moss

Community resilience describes the dynamic, ongoing process of coping and recovery in the face of collective stressors and trauma. Social and monetary capital, technological expertise, and strong physical and organizational infrastructure all undergird strong systematic responses to massive hardships. Other factors that underlie community resilience, such as shared philosophies; patterns and cultures of survival and meaning-making; emotional qualities such as optimism and trust; and norms around cooperation and interdependence, are more ethereal. Our world faces continual onslaughts to collective well-being. Thus, notions and practice models around community resilience are increasingly urgent to develop, with implications for macro practice across multiple methods - including community organization, policy practice, and management/administration.

Article

Conflict Theory for Macro Practice  

Susan P. Robbins and George S. Leibowitz

Conflict theory encompasses several theories that share underlying assumptions about interlocking systems of oppression and how they are maintained. The relevance of Marx’s theory of class conflict, C. Wright Mills’s power elite, and pluralist interest group theory are all important to understand and address social and economic gaps and informing policy for macro practice. Conflict theory can provide an understanding of health disparities, racial differences in mortality rates, class relationships associated with negative outcomes, poverty, discrimination in criminal justice, as well as numerous factors that are broadly associated with inequality embedded in social structures. Social workers play a significant role in addressing disparities in research, curricula, primary and secondary intervention, and public policy, and conflict theory can provide the framework necessary to enrich this understanding.

Article

Consumer Rights  

Donald M. Linhorst

Consumers of health and mental health services are afforded numerous legal rights. Broad categories of rights include self-determination, access to health information, protections for mental health consumers who are hospitalized, and a right to community integration. Two areas of consumer rights are emerging: a greater emphasis on human rights, and the right of consumers to participate in developing and implementing programs and services within the organizations from which they receive services. Various means for enforcing rights exist in both the private and the public sectors. Social workers play critical roles in ensuring that consumer rights become a reality.

Article

Criminal Justice: Corrections  

C. Aaron McNeece

The United States has more than 7 million adults under correctional supervision, with more than 2 million incarcerated. The history and theories behind incarceration are described, along with the current jail and prison inmate populations. Specific problems of juveniles and women are mentioned. Current trends and issues in corrections are discussed, including community-based corrections, privatization, faith-based programs, and health care. The roles of social workers in the correctional system are outlined. Comments are made on the future of incarceration.

Article

Criminal Justice: Overview  

Michael C. Gearhart

The American criminal justice system is comprised of four main components: law enforcement, the judiciary, corrections, and legislature. These components work together to investigate crimes, arrest individuals, weigh evidence of guilt, monitor individuals who are found guilty, and make laws. Though the criminal justice system is meant to administer justice in an equitable manner, a number of controversial policies and practices exist within the criminal justice system. These practices are typically rooted in historical biases that continue to create disparities today. Social work has a long history of reforming the criminal justice system. However, modern disparities illustrate that there is still work to be done. The skills of macro social workers are foundational to present-day advocacy efforts and emerging criminal justice practice, highlighting the enduring significance of macro social work practice in criminal justice reform.

Article

Critical Pedagogy in Community Practice  

Laurie A. Walker

Contemporary community engagement pedagogies require critical frameworks that facilitate diverse groups working collaboratively toward socially just outcomes. Critical frameworks acknowledge different ways of knowing and experiencing the world, as well as many means to achieve the desired outcomes. Indigenous values focused on relationship, respect, reciprocity, responsiveness, relevance, and responsibility inform key community engagement principles that are often applicable across many groups. Instructors who center Indigenous and other perspectives of groups that experience marginalization and oppression in social work curriculum are able to create community-engaged and socially just outcomes via institutional change and knowledge production efforts. Contemporary community engagement work embedded in social work values requires frameworks that are strengths based, center historically underrepresented groups working toward social justice on their own terms, and include an analysis of power, positionality, systemic causes of disparities, needed institutional changes, and critiques inclusion assumptions.

Article

Critical Race Theory  

V. Thandi Sulé

Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework that unapologetically asserts how and why race matters in the maintenance of U.S. policies and practices. In doing so, CRT counters discourse that situates discrimination and disparities within the realm of individual behaviors or psychological deficits. Therefore, racism is seen for what it is—a willful, institutionalized, and dehumanizing way of being. Though racism prevailed as the quintessential problem of the 20th century, the 21st century has revealed that the color line remains remarkably undisturbed. Whether one is focusing on housing, education, employment, wealth, health, safety, or justice, racial disparities and inequities exist to the disadvantage of racially minoritized people. Born out of discontent for legal remedies for inequality, CRT speaks to the universal way that racism immobilizes minoritized people—thereby providing an almost unwavering advantage to white people. This review provides an overview of the tenets of CRT and how those tenets connect with social work values and practice.

Article

Critical Race Theory and Macro Social Work Practice  

Aswood Bousseau and Diane Martell

American racism has produced systems of oppression that continue to impact Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) in the United States. Critical race theory (CRT) asserts that racism is a longstanding, pervasive, and permanent component of social structure. Perceptions of and concepts relating to race are used to manipulate societal conditions to add value to and benefit the dominant, white population. CRT can be used as a lens to (a) understand current social and economic conditions, (b) analyze policies including municipal, state, and federal laws, regulations, and court decisions, and (c) develop and implement policies and programs that increase racial justice. For social work administrators, CRT provides a framework for identifying and assessing implicit and explicit racism in internal and external organizational policies, structures, and practices. In community work, CRT places race and racism at the center of localized patterns of disempowerment and inequality.

Article

Cultural Competence  

Terry L. Cross

Cultural competence emerged as a concept in the 1980s; took form as a set of organizational, educational, advocacy, policy, and practice constructs in the 1990s; and has since matured into a broad rubric that addresses social justice and service delivery quality, equity, access, and efficacy for people and groups of diverse backgrounds. Cultural competence, sometimes referred to as cultural competency, ethnic competence, cross-cultural competence, or multicultural competence, has become an essential element of social work at every level of the field, from direct practice to social policy. The history, literature, policy developments, controversies, and implications of cultural competence are discussed. The evolution of cultural competence and its role in social work is examined and summarized in this entry.