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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

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

HIV in an Era of Biomedical Advances: Prevention  

Diana Rowan

Since the start of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic, numerous biomedical advances have caused the social-work response to shift from management of a crisis to prevention of an incurable, but treatable chronic disease. About 1.3 million people in the United States and more than 33 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with HIV. Rates of incidence in impoverished, marginalized communities are highest, with the rates continuing to increase among young African American gay and bisexual men. Other communities at high risk are people who are incarcerated, engage in sex work or other kinds of exchange sex, and participate in risky injection-drug use. Minority groups are often impacted because of reduced access to quality medical care and HIV testing. Social workers in HIV prevention work are challenged to educate clients and communities on the sexual risk continuum, provide more interventions that are culturally tailored for disadvantaged at-risk groups, and implement evidence-based HIV prevention and testing programs worldwide. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy now provides structure to funding opportunities for HIV prevention programs, and there is disparate access to effective treatments worldwide for those living with HIV.

Article

Human Sexuality  

Laina Y. Bay-Cheng

This entry defines sexuality and identifies dominant explanatory models. In doing so, the entry outlines the central debate regarding the relative contributions of biology and social context. In addition, it highlights current key issues in the field of sexuality: the connection between sexuality and social inequality, the growing emphasis on the promotion of sexual health and well-being rather than just the prevention of sexual risk, the salience of sexuality across the life course, and the debate regarding sexuality education policy. Finally, it identifies parallels between these trends and social work, including the relation of sexuality to social work roles and practice.

Article

Mental Health: Adolescents  

Craig Winston LeCroy

Health care practitioners frequently ignore mental health problems in teens. Adolescents’ daily functioning may be hampered as they mature and are exposed to more dangerous settings. The common behavioral and mental health issues that teenagers face is critical to understanding how to best offer prevention and intervention services. Teenage mental health treatment often focuses on developing functional abilities and identifying models of care that can lessen dysfunctional symptomatology. The latest approaches to treating and preventing teenage mental health issues are presented. The mental health field has placed increased focus on implementing evidence-based treatments. In addition to treatment models, numerous additional elements must be taken into account while developing or implementing treatment.

Article

Mindfulness-Based Therapy  

Edward R. Canda and Sherry Warren

This entry provides an introduction to mindfulness as a therapeutic practice applied within social work, including in mental health and health settings. It describes and critiques mindfulness-based practices regarding definitions, history, current practices, best practices research, and ethical issues related to using evidence-based practices, acquiring competence, addressing social justice, and respecting diversity.

Article

Oral History and Social Work  

Arlene Bowers Andrews

This article reviews basic skills for conducting and using oral histories, summarizes ethical issues, presents examples relevant to social work, and suggests useful resources. For social workers, oral history can be a way to record the history of social change as well as a means of promoting social change. Oral history can honor, inform, raise consciousness, and motivate action. Oral histories are particularly relevant for historically excluded populations and those with oral traditions. Generating the history requires a thorough awareness of the narrator, the story, and the role of the listener as well as skillful interviewing, use of digital technology, and appropriate archiving.

Article

Out-of-School Suspension of African American Youth and Progressive Education Alternatives  

Wendy Haight and Priscilla Gibson

Racial disproportionality in out-of-school suspensions (suspensions) is a persistent, multi-level social justice and child well-being issue affecting not only youth, families, and schools but society as a whole. It is a complex, multiple-level social problem that will require an equally complex response. The design of effective remedies will require adequate understanding of the problem as well as the historical and sociocultural contexts in which it emerged and is perpetuated. Progressive educators have offered a number of alternatives to harsh and exclusionary discipline, but research is needed to examine their effectiveness, especially in reducing racial disproportionalities.

Article

Post-Disaster Trauma and Recovery  

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.

Article

Racial Disparities in the Child Welfare System  

Alan J. Dettlaff

Racial disproportionality and disparities have been documented in the child welfare system in the United States since at least the 1960s, yet they persist as a national problem. This article provides an overview of the history of racial disproportionality and disparities in child welfare systems, the continuing presence of racial disproportionality and disparities, and the factors that contribute to racial disproportionality and disparities. The article concludes with strategies that have been developed over the years to address racial disproportionality and disparities, including calls for abolition of the child welfare system as a means of addressing these persistent problems.

Article

Racial Disparities in the Education System  

Martell Teasley and Bonita Homer

Despite years of education reform, the United States continues to have disparities in academic outcomes among racial and ethnic groups in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. High school graduation rates have increased for racial and ethnic minorities, but gross disparities in high school graduation and college attendance still exist. In this article, the authors first examine the literature on racial and ethnic group disparities in education within public K–12 education, followed by a brief review of recent research literature on racial and ethnic disparities within higher education. In each section, there is some examination of race, ethnicity, and critical factors that lead to disparities within the education system. Information on socioeconomic status, school readiness, special education, school discipline, culture, and teacher bias are discussed. The authors conclude that while family income and socioeconomic status help to explain disparities in education outcomes among racial and ethnic groups, cultural factors are a salient part of the conversation.

Article

Sayles, Odessa  

David Cory and Catheleen Jordan

Odessa Sayles, MSW, was a leading advocate for adoption of Black children by Black families in Houston, Texas, during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. She was well known for dedicating her life to children and to uplifting the Black community. Serving as lead program director for foster care and adoptions for Harris County Protective Services for Children, she was steadfast in seeking culturally appropriate homes for children facing adoption.

Article

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status  

Susan Schmidt

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is an immigration classification that provides a pathway to lawful permanent residency for non-citizen immigrant children in the United States who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar basis under state law; who cannot reunify with one or both parents; who are under state court jurisdiction; and for whom it is not in their best interests to be returned to their country of nationality or prior residence. Social workers have played a significant role in the development of SIJS, and they have an ongoing role in the identification and referral of potentially eligible children as well as in the refinement of SIJS policies. Social workers’ roles with SIJS represent the profession’s multifaceted capacity, including support and referral with individual children, advocacy across multiple systems, and policy practice in the creation and continued improvement of this protective status.

Article

Working With Latino Immigrant Families in Schools  

Eden Hernandez Robles, Crissy A. Johnson, and Joel Hernandez Robles

Latino immigrant families and their students come with unique cultural and linguistic needs. Working effectively with Latino immigrants in schools is a challenge for social workers. Latino immigrant families represent a variety of racial, ethnic, historical, immigrant, gender, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds. While scholars are able to identify aspects of culture and cultural values, their influence on education and how to integrate these values into intervention and prevention programs, or direct services, is still in need of further research. This article offers a portrait of the Latino immigrant population in the United States, discusses the definitions associated with the population, provides some considerations for social workers, and discusses interventions or preventions specific to Latino immigrant students that also include families.