Although it was once widely held that development through toddlerhood was the only significant time of tremendous brain growth, findings from neuroscience have identified adolescence as a second significant period of brain-based changes. Profound modification of brain structure, function, and connectivity, paired with heightened sensitivity to environment, places adolescence both as a heightened period of risk and importantly as a time of tremendous opportunity. These findings are of key relevance for social-work policy and practice, for they speak to the ways in which the adolescent brain both is vulnerable to adverse conditions and remains responsive to positive environmental input such as interventions that support recovery and resilience.
Adolescent Brain Development
Jessica M. Black
Adolescent Populations: An Overview of Issues and Social Problems
Todd Michael Franke and Diane de Anda
This entry begins with a presentation of demographic data from the U.S. Census 2010 on the adolescent population 12 to 19 years by age, gender, and ethnicity. A summary of the information available on major issues and problems affecting adolescent populations is presented from numerous governmental and empirical research sources on the following topics: education, runaway and homeless youth, sexual behavior, substance abuse, suicide, victimization and criminal behavior, and texting while driving.
Adolescents: Practice Interventions
David L. Hussey
This chapter summarizes literature and research related to advances in direct practice work with adolescents. Social workers are on the forefront of developing and utilizing a variety of evidence-based practices to address complex client and community needs.
Kathleen A. Rounds and Traci L. Wike
Although rates of adolescent pregnancy have exhibited a downward trend since 1991, the United States continues to have a significantly higher rate than other industrialized nations. Adolescent pregnancy, especially in early and middle adolescence, has long-term developmental and economic impact on the teen and her child, in addition to high social costs. This entry describes the current trends in adolescent pregnancy in the United States, and examines factors reported in the research literature as associated with adolescent pregnancy, discusses federal policy directed toward adolescent pregnancy prevention, and identifies various intervention programs.
Adolescents: A Historical Overview of Developmental Theories
Diane de Anda
This article begins with an overview of biological development based upon empirical research. The main focus of the article is the presentation of the major theoretical frameworks that have been employed to explain the processes involved in the psychological, cognitive, moral, social, and sexual development of the adolescent and empirical research findings where appropriate.
Karen Smith Rotabi
The practice of intercountry adoption is first considered from a historical framework, beginning with World War II, to other conflicts throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. In this historical overview, factors that contributed to the rise of the global circulation of children for adoption in the 20th century are discussed, as well as efforts for reform in the 21st century in response to problems of abuse, fraud, and exploitation and the development of policies to regulate intercountry adoption and ultimately protect children. Specifically, The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is presented from a social justice perspective, using Guatemala as a case example, as well as relevant U.S. policies regulating intercountry adoption practices. Finally, direct practice considerations for social workers are discussed. These include pre- and post-adoption issues to support families and children through the intercountry adoption process and across the child’s lifespan with considerations for trans-racial adoptions and the unique child-family support issues. In conclusion, the significant decline in the practice is reflected upon pragmatically; the need for true reform in the practice is necessary to preserve intercountry adoption for orphaned and vulnerable children.
Adoption: Lesbian and Gay Adoptive Parents
Abbie E. Goldberg and April Moyer
Adoption by lesbian and gay parents is becomingly increasingly common. This entry presents an overview of the limited research that has focused on lesbian and gay adoptive parents. Specifically, this entry addresses the experience of adoptive parenthood for lesbian and gay parents, with emphasis on the decision-making process (that is, choosing adoption, choosing an agency, choosing an adoption type, and specifying child characteristics), the transition to adoptive parenthood, the psychological adjustment of the adoptive parents and their children, and the adoptive parent–child relationship. We end with recommendations for future research and implications for practitioners and policymakers.
Alcohol and Drug Prevention Among Youth and Young Adults
Peter J. Delany, Jane Sanville, and Joseph J. Shields
Substance use and comorbid mental health disorders are widespread in the United States. Recent data suggests that previous declines in substance use among adolescents ages 12–17 years and young adults ages 18–25 observed between 2002 and 2014 may be abating. In fact, research suggests that alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use may be increasing in response to the social distancing and isolation related to COVID-19 restrictions. Drug use contributes to overdoses, poor health status, loss of income, family violence, accidents, auto fatalities, removal of children from a home, and impaired mental, emotional, and behavioral development in children. Substance misuse, substance use disorders, and related comorbid mental health and social problems are not inevitable. Substance use prevention services focus on strengthening protective factors and reducing risk factors that put individuals, families, and communities at risk for substance abuse and related health and social consequences. The social work profession performs an important role in advancing and implementing substance abuse prevention, not only in preventing the use and misuse of alcohol and other drugs and related negative health, mental health and economic outcomes, but also in working to improve the overall health of communities through intervention programs and policies.
Cynthia Franklin, Linda Webb, and Hannah Szlyk
This article will cover the current best practices in designing and establishing alternative programs for at-risk students and suggest how social workers can assist in program development and sustainability. At-risk students are youth considered more likely than others to drop out of school due to various factors, including truancy, poor grades, disruptive behaviors, pregnancy, and repeated expulsions or suspensions. The history of alternative education in the United States will be reviewed and the types of alternative educations programs in practice outlined. How the framework of an alternative school differs from that of a disciplinary program will be examined along with initial steps toward development and implementation. Effective strategies explained include establishing a task force, involving the greater community, and implementing evidence-based interventions such as Response to Intervention (RTI) into the school curriculum. An example of a sustainable public alternative education program grounded in solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is presented.
Attachment Research, Developmental Implications, and Clinical Interventions with Children, Adults, and Couples
This review summarizes contributions to attachment theory and research by John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, Mary Main, and many other researchers. It addresses contributions from the Adult Attachment Interview to the understanding of loss and trauma as well as the intergenerational transmission of attachment patterns from parent to child. The review describes current findings from infant research, and the implications of attachment theory to clinical interventions with children, families, adults, and couples.
Autism and Suicide
This article reviews the changes in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM)-5. It reviews the risk factors associated with suicide in the general population and the link between these risk factors and individuals on the autism spectrum. When discussing autism and suicide (as a spectrum), the complexities that the two present influence parents, researchers, and practitioners. As an added dimension of convolution, there are only a small number of published studies in the area of autism and suicide, and many have marked the importance of awareness and connection between autism and suicide. The article presents the most recent and available research on ASDs and suicide. Methodological challenges related to these studies will be discussed as well as the implications for research, practice, and education.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sandy Magaña and Lauren Bishop
Autism spectrum disorder is a heritable, developmental disability that is characterized by challenges with social communication and the presence of restrictive and/or repetitive patterns of behavior. Autism spectrum disorder affects development and quality of life from very early development through old age. Social workers play a number of different roles in supporting and advocating for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. It is important that social workers understand the etiology, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder, how it manifests throughout the lifespan, and challenges faced by families affected by ASD.
Bullying in Youth
Jonathan Singer and Karen Slovak
Bullying is the most common form of violence in schools and has been shown to disrupt the emotional and social development of both the targets and the perpetrators of bullying (Raskauskas & Stoltz, 2007). Bullying can be physical, verbal, relational, and direct or indirect. There are well-established age and sex trends (Olweus, 1993; Smith, Madsen, & Moody, 1999). There has been considerable research on bullying-prevention programs and scholarship on best-practice guidelines for school social workers (Dupper, 2013). An emerging concern is with the use of electronic and Internet devices in bullying, referred to as “cyberbullying.” In this article we define bullying and cyberbullying; discuss risk factors associated with being a bully, a victim, and a bully-victim; describe prevention and intervention programs; and discuss emerging trends in both bullying and cyberbullying.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Susan J. Wells and Geoff Johnson
The true extent of child abuse and neglect is unknown but reports to state agencies indicate over 3 million reports concerning maltreatment of over 6 million children are made each year. Confirmed reports involved over 679,000 children in 2013. Yet, only 32% of the children known to be harmed by maltreatment in the community are investigated by child protective services. The perplexing dilemma in surveillance and service delivery is how to identify those who need help without spuriously including those who do not. This entry focuses on the definition of maltreatment and provides an overview of the history, etiology, and consequences of child abuse and neglect as well as the current trends and dilemmas in the field. To afford some perspective for the reader, some international data and information are provided.
Child and Adolescent Mental-Health Disorders
Susan Frauenholtz and Amy Mendenhall
Mental-health disorders are widely prevalent in children and adolescents, and social workers are the primary service providers for children and families experiencing these disorders. This entry provides an overview of some of the most commonly seen disorders in children and adolescents: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and specific learning disorders. The prevalence, course, diagnostic criteria, assessment guidelines, and treatment interventions are reviewed for each disorder. In addition, the key role of social workers in the identification and intervention of these disorders, as well as ways social workers can support the children and families experiencing these disorders, is discussed.
Child Care Services
Child care services, enabling parents to commit themselves to paid employment while providing a supervised environment for their children, have a long and complex history in the United States. Child care services can provide children with educational and other advantages, as well as custodial care. In fact, the United States has multiple kinds of services providing child care and early childhood education. Publicly funded services have concentrated on care for impoverished children and those facing other risks or disadvantages, but many of these children and their families remain unserved because of gaps in programs and lack of support for subsidies, while other families purchase the services they need.
Usha Nayar, Priya Nayar, and Nidhi Mishra
The paper presents a global scenario of child labor by placing the issue in a historical context as well as comparing current work in the field. It specifically explains the psychosocial, political, and economic determinants of child labor and the prevalence of different forms as well as its magnitude in the different regions of the world. It features innovative programs and actions taken against child labor by local governments, civil societies, and United Nations bodies—mainly the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The paper also highlights multilateral collaborations among the UN and other international agencies that stand against child labor in general and the employment of children in hazardous conditions. It illustrates the cooperation among local governments, civic organizations, and child-rights movements that have brought gradual changes over the decades toward ending child labor. Further, it suggests that social work, relevant professional schools, and associations working in various disciplines should be engaged in research-based advocacy and find innovative solutions to control child labor.
Dorinda N. Noble
Children are interesting, resilient people, whose lives are often perilous. Social workers deal extensively with children and families, and with policies that affect children, to help children and families overcome family disruption, poverty, and homelessness. Social workers also provide mental health care while working to ensure that children get medical care. Schools are areas of practice for social workers dealing with children. The issues of ethical practice and social justice for children are complex.
Children: Practice Interventions
Anthony N. Maluccio
Social work has a long tradition of direct practice with children in a range of settings, such as child welfare, child guidance, hospitals, schools, and neighborhood centers. This entry focuses on general principles and strategies for direct social work practice with preadolescents and, to a lesser extent, their families, within an eclectic conceptual framework.
Children: Therapeutic Group Care
James K. Whittaker
This entry addresses the current state of therapeutic group care services for children and youth. Demographic programmatic trends and research findings are reviewed as are emergent issues and critical questions for further research and practice innovation. Suggestions for improvement of therapeutic group care services are offered in the context of an overall spectrum of services for children and families.