Category: SSW News Releases
On May 19, faculty, staff, family, and friends gathered in the Boston University Fitness and Recreation Center to celebrate our graduates at the 2017 Boston University School of Social Work Convocation and Hooding Ceremony. The School of Social work proudly graduated over 200 students. Degree receipients included both doctor of philosophy and master’s in social work students who were recognized for completing the requirements for graduation.
Following an introduction by Dean Gail Steketee, who celebrated her final BUSSW convocation ceremony before retirement this year, guests heard from alumnus and convocation speaker, Douglas M. Brooks (’99), former Director of the White House Office of National Aids Policy.
Brooks encouraged all graduates — regardless of their fields — to proudly “identify yourselves as social workers.”
“Let people know who you are and what you do,” Brooks said. “Yours is a calling to go bravely into the world and assist people as they navigate the myriad of systems that serve as barriers to their well-being.”
This year’s student speaker was Off-Campus Program graduate Kimberly Hula (’17). BUSSW also honored Professor Phillipe Copeland with this year’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The ceremony concluded with a farewell to Dean Gail Steketee and was followed by a reception.
On Tuesday, May 23, the Boston University School of Social Work field education department hosted its 8th Annual Field Instructor Appreciation Breakfast in the Colloquium Room of the BU Photonics Center to celebrate another year of field education The morning began with introductions from Trudy Zimmerman, Assistant Dean for Field Education and the presentation of awards to outstanding field instructors. Award recipients Gerard Frater (BU North), Diane Treciokas (Fall River), Deanna White (Cape Cod), Margaret Kiwanuka-Woernle (BUSSW advisor; Charles River), Jenn Valenzuela (Charles River), Joya Lonsdale (Charles River), Tyler Haaren (Charles River), Gaye Freed (Charles River), Sara Steffen (Online), Ana Fisher (Online), were nominated by their students for exemplary service, supervision, and mentorship in the field. The Field Education department also honored two outstanding agencies- Seton Youth Shelters, an Online Programs agency located in Virginia and Upham’s Elder Service Plan, a Charles River Campus agency in Dorchester.
Following the presentation of awards, BU School of Social Work Clinical Assistant Professor Phillipe Copeland presented “Social Work at the Edge of Midnight: Practice in Dark Times.” He led an interactive discussion on “Trumpism” and what it means to be a social worker at this moment, what opportunities, challenges, and responsibilities it brings.
On April 25, Dean Gail Steketee presented “Buried in Treasures” for the final Boston University Women’s Guild Lunch & Learn of the academic year. In her talk, Dr. Steketee spoke about what happens when people’s possessions take over their lives. Known as hoarding disorder, this condition occurs in one of every five adults, and for years has been misunderstood. Most of what people know about the disorder are the “hazards of hoarding,” the possibilities of situations that may involve poor sanitation, issues of mobility, blocked exits, homelessness, fire, and cost to communities. “Clutter is the manifestation, the consequence, the by-product of the disorder,” she said, but hoarding is no different from the way we use objects, just to an extreme level. People are attached to objects for three reasons-because they hold sentimental, instrumental, and/or intrinsic value. The difference for those with hoarding is in the logic, that value is applied differently with regards to the objects.
Dean Steketee concluded the Lunch & Learn with a Q&A session and a discussion about how to help family and friends who have this problem find successful strategies to declutter and regain control of their runaway attachment to possessions.
New Study by Professor Salas-Wright Shows Encouraging Findings of Youth Violence on Decline Published in the American Journal of Public Health
Contrary to popular perception, a new study by Boston University professor Christopher Salas-Wright finds that youth violence is declining—and at noteworthy rates. Between 2002 and 2014, Salas-Wright and his colleagues found a 29% decrease in the relative proportion of young people involved in violence in the United States. The study, Trends in Fighting and Violence Among Adolescents in the United States: Evidence From the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2002–2014 published in the American Journal of Public Health, also reveals a persistent pattern of racial and ethnic disparities in youth violence.
“There is often the sense that teenagers are out of control and that things are always getting worse,” Salas-Wright said. “However, our study makes clear that, over the last 10 to 15 years, we have seen a meaningful decrease in the number of adolescents involved in fighting and violence.”
Drawing from nationally representative data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the study examines trends in violence (including fighting, group fighting, and attacks with intent to harm) among youth ages 12-17. Study findings indicate that among youth in general, violence is meaningfully down. Indeed, Salas-Wright and colleagues found that the prevalence of youth violence steadily dropped from a pinnacle of 33.6% in 2003 to a low of 23.7% in 2014. Despite these encouraging findings, Salas-Wright is careful to note that disparities exist. Over the course of the study, African-American youth were consistently found to be most impacted by violent behavior followed by Hispanic and non-Hispanic white youth.
“Overall, these findings represent good news,” Salas-Wright noted. “However, while violence decreased among youth from all racial and ethnic groups, we see clear evidence of that African-American and Hispanic youth continue to be disproportionately impacted by violence.”
The study was co-authored by Erik Nelson of Indiana University, Michael Vaughn of Saint Louis University, Jennifer Reingle Gonzalez of University of Texas, and David Córdova of the University of Michigan.
The authors argue that, despite the standard assumptions about young people, findings from the present study are consistent with recent research on risk behavior among American youth. ”
“While we are seeing noteworthy decreases in violence and other risky behaviors among youth, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that these problems persist,” Vaughn said. “There is still much work to be done.”
Based on these findings, Salas-Wright and colleagues emphasize the importance of the continued development and dissemination of evidence-based programs and interventions designed to prevent not only violence but other problem behaviors among youth.
About Boston University School of Social Work
With roots dating back to 1918, Boston University School of Social Work’s (BUSSW) mission is to develop dynamic and diverse social work practitioners, leaders, and scholars through rigorous teaching, innovative research, and transformative community engagement. BUSSW offers graduate programs in clinical and macro social work practice. For more information, visit bu.edu/ssw.
During this year’s national Social Work Month, BU School of Social Work celebrated Social Work Month this March remembering those special moments moments when you knew social work was the field or that split-second understanding of the powerful impact social workers have on the lives of so many.
We invited the BUSSW to share their favorite photos, stories, or notes that remind them of these moments and entered those that shared with us into a contest to win an Ipad Mini and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera (White) With Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film Twin Pack + Compact Bag Case + Batteries & Battery Charger.
Congratulations to the winners of our #SocialWorkStories contest: Jennifer Mourhess (’14), winner of a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera and accessories, and Linda Rakoff (’73), our grand prize winner of an iPad Mini! Thank you to all those who participated for sharing their inspiring #socialworkstories with us this #SocialWorkMonth!
BU School of Social Work Lecturer Michelle Walsh publishes a new book, “Violent Trauma, Culture, and Power : An Interdisciplinary Exploration in Lived Religion,” as part of the Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges series.
The book is an interdisciplinary exploration of the intertwining impact of violent trauma, culture, and power through case studies of two ministries serving in different demographic contexts within the United States. Walsh shows how all forms of violent trauma impact more than individuals and assesses how these impacts differ according to lived experiences with culture and power.
She draws upon the prominent theories of work with metaphor, poetics, and theopoetics for interdisciplinary correlations; narrative theory; relational cultural theory; internal family systems theory; liberation health theory; and critical race theory and decolonizing theory to develop trauma-specific interdisciplinary tools for lived religion studies.
“In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, parenting has become a lost art. My goal in writing this book is to help parents rediscover the rewards of communicating with their children face to face – and creating an authentic family life.”
BU School of Social Work alumna Justine Lambroschino (’98) draws on her experience as a child and family social worker in her new book, “Conversations with your child.”
About the Author
Justine Lambroschino, a licensed independent clinical social worker, has worked with multiple populations in a variety of clinical environments. She received an associate degree in nursing from Cape Cod Community College Hyannis, a bachelor’s degree in social work from Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, and a master’s in social work from Boston University.
On March 23, 2017, in the Metcalf Trustee Center, Boston University Initiative on Cities hosted “Cities & Kids: Enabling Optimal Development for Urban Youth,” in partnership with Boston University School of Public Health.
With more that 80% of American youth living in urban areas, children are affected by the social, natural and built environments of the cities they live in. This one-day conference brought together government officials, public health professionals, youth and family advocates and young people to “explore the unique challenges posed by urban living and the ways in which cities spur and enable the positive environments that help children thrive.”
The morning began with opening remarks from Graham Wilson, Director and Professor of BU Initiatives, and Sandro Galea, Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at BU School of Public Health. Directly following their introductions, keynote speaker and President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Patrick McCarthy, delivered the Foundational Discussion: The State of Urban Youth in America for the conference. The address focused on identifying and confronting the challenges for urban youth in America. He said, “I don’t think any issue could be more critical than our kids, the issues that face them, and how cities can help to eliminate or reduce some of those challenges.”
The morning continued with the first conference panel. Moderated by BU School of Social Work Associate Professor Ruth Paris, this panel on “The Family Environment,” which explored the issues of economic, mental, and physical well-being as well as cognitive, social, and emotional development and the supports that foster health family environments and where they come from. On the panel were Megan Bair-Merrit, MD, Susan Clampet-Lundquist, and Cherie Craft. Following an introduction by Professor Ruth Paris, each gave a short presentation.
The panel’s first speaker, Dr. Megan Bair-Merritt, is an associate professor and pediatrician at BU School of Medicine as well as the associate director of the division on general pediatrics and fellowship director at Boston Medical Center. She spoke on intimate partner violence, toxic stress, and their effects on child health. “Caring for children means caring for parents,” Dr. Bair-Merritt said. She stressed the importance of the collaboration in research and practice to address child health saying, “Health in infancy and childhood predicts health in adulthood.”
Cherie Craft, second panelist and Founding Executive Director of Smart from the Start, a family support and school readiness organization, spoke about her organization’s approach to creating healthy family environments. With a mission, “to prevent the academic achievement gap among children living in the lowest income families and communities”, Craft explained that Smart from the Start uses a strength based approach, acknowledging that all families and caregivers have strengths. Seeking to permanently develop successful generational cycles, Smart from the Start uses a two-generational framework in tandem with authentic community engagement to present an ecological and holistic approach to the work that they do. Craft noted that it was important to celebrate where we are and where we come from saying, “The change we seek must come from the community we serve.” Smart from the Start provides a one-stop shop, housing as many services possible for the community it serves, in the community it serves.
Last on the panel, Susan Clampet-Lundquist, associate professor of sociology at Saint Joseph’s University, presented on neighborhoods, parenting, and youth outcomes. Through exploration of Moving to Opportunity (MTO), a research demonstration that partners rental assistance with housing counseling to help low-income families move to low-poverty area, Clampet-Lundquist explained that social policy can interrupt negative intergenerational cycles, if not in the way it was first thought. While educational, employment, or welfare effects were not necessarily seen, health and mental health were impacted, showing that gains in neighborhoods matter. “Data indicates that they (low-income caregivers) need to be able to raise their kids in the same environments that the middle class does,” she said. This improvement in the qualities of neighborhoods is an investment in youth development.
Following the three short presentations was a question and answer session, moderated by Professor Ruth Paris who asked the first question, “You all mentioned in your presentations the importance of working in communities, how would you leverage your programs and findings in today’s political climate to do the work to interrupt those intergenerational cycles of poverty, and convince people that these practices are essential?” In their responses, the panel stressed focusing on cost savings and the ability to show that the work has a positive effect on the bottom line, framing the narrative, empowering the public, and developing partnership, especially with the families, saying “You cannot serve a child and help in their development in isolation from their family.”
The day concluded with two more panels, “The Build and Natural Environment” and “The Community Environment,” as well as another keynote address, “Setting an Urban Youth Agenda” by Mayor Michael Nutter, former Mayor of Philadelphia and David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
“Cities & Kids” is the first of a two-part series: Cities and Health Across the Life Course. The second, “Cities & Aging,” is scheduled for Spring 2018. Watch the entire livestream here.
We are happy to announce that Dr. Phillipe Copeland, Clinical Assistant Professor at BU School of Social Work, has been chosen to receive the 2017 Teaching Excellence Award by the Boston University School of Social Work Class of 2017! The award will be presented during the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 19, 2017 starting at 4PM at the BU FitRec Center. Stay tuned for more commencement information and congratulations to Professor Copeland!
On March 21, the Center for Aging and Disability Education and Research (CADER) officially launched a two-year grant-funded program aimed at building the capacity of clergy to address the behavioral health needs of older adults by developing a training program for diverse faith-based leaders throughout Massachusetts. This program, funded by the MA Department of Public Health Suicide Prevention Fund, builds upon CADER’s experience in workforce development and training in the area of behavioral health and aging.
The kick-off meeting included a meeting of the Clergy Stakeholder Advisory Group—key stakeholders and faith-based leaders in Massachusetts—as well as faculty and students from the School of Theology and School of Social Work. School of Theology Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning Pamela Lightsey welcomed everyone and delivered the morning’s opening remarks.
“We are very excited to move into this next phase of our project and the opportunity it has presented to work with BU School of Theology,” Professor Bronwyn Keefe, PI and Interim Director of CADER, said. “Part of the impetus for this project was that research shows that during episodes of stress, grief, and depression, more often older adults turn to clergy rather than mental health professionals. Given CADER’s experience in developing the knowledge and skills of the aging and mental health workforce, we believe that training the clergy is the next step needed to impact the well-being of older adults.”
With the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Data Report in 2014 indicating that 29% to 40% of older adults in Massachusetts report being depressed, one of the greatest barriers to the provision of mental health services identified by CADER was the lack of a trained workforce. Clergy reported that their ministries include heavy demands to provide mental health services to members of their congregations, yet many feel overwhelmed and ill equipped to help. As a result, behavioral health issues often go unrecognized, undiagnosed, and untreated.
During the first year of the program, the Clergy Stakeholder Advisory Group will participate in a pilot of CADER’s Behavioral Health and Aging Certificate. Based on this group’s feedback, CADER will revise and deliver the new content in the second year to a larger group of clergy across Massachusetts. At the end of program, CADER believes that clergy will be able to demonstrate significant increases in competencies in key areas, such as recognizing the signs and symptoms of common cognitive, substance use, and mental health conditions (i.e. suicide and depression); addressing the impact of stigma when working with older adults; understanding how and where to make referrals for assistance; and identifying the strengths and resources in immigrant and refugee communities that build resilience.
For more information on CADER, click here.