Category: SSW News Releases
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.
In partnership with the Boston Children’s Hospital, the Professional Education Programs department has announced the launch of a 12-week certificate program in cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT). CBT is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in many trials for many different disorders. In contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy is typically more focused on the present, more time-limited, and more problem-solving oriented, which allows clients to use these problem-solving skills for the rest of their lives.
This introductory level course acquaints participants with the theoretical frameworks and basic practice skills of the evidence-based method. This certificate program covers CBT-based assessment, treatment strategies, and skill application for the treatment of clinical disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and substance abuse.
The program will be directed by Daniel Beck, LICSW, LLC, who is the director of the CBT and Social Work Training Initiative (CASTI) at the BUSSW, and will run from April 19—July 5. Twenty-one social workers at Children’s Hospital are currently enrolled.
“This new partnership would not be possible without the contributions of the instructor, Daniel Beck, and Allison Scobie-Carroll, the Director of the Social Work Department at Boston Children’s Hospital,” said Deborah Sheehan, Director of Professional Education Programs.
On Wednesday, February 8, the BU School of Social Work Admissions Office hosted its first Macro Matters Mixer, an effort to raise awareness about the macro side of social work and to offer an opportunity for networking amongst various audiences.
Faculty, staff, alumni and current students gathered to mix and mingle with 20 perspective macro students in attendance. The evening provided an opportunity for macro alumni and faculty to share their stories and experiences and for current and perspective students to gain valuable insight and perspective on a career in macro social work.
Pictured: (Above) Professor Geoff Wilkinson (’85) with Ashley Slay (’16); (Below) Associate Dean Ken Schulman with Mitchell Thomas (’14, SPH’15) and Dan Do (’13, SPH’14)
On Friday, February 17, MSW and PhD students, field instructors and alumni from BUSSW and Boston College attended a special workshop hosted by Professor Ernest Gonzales and the Lowy-GEM Program at BU School of Social Work.
The day-long workshop, “Achieving Health Equity through Intergenerational Programming,” took place in Conant Lounge and provided attendees with an overview of relevant theories, research, and best practices on how to effectively unite older adults and youth through programming. This workshop was presented by BUSSW Professor Ernest Gonzales and Andrea J. Fonte Weaver, Founder and Executive Director of Bridges Together, Inc.
Responding to changes from the organic intergenerational relationships, which existed in previous generations when family members tended to live in close proximity to one another, intergenerational programs seek to revive those relationships as a means of promoting longevity and health while fostering meaningful connections between youth and older adults.
The workshop focused on the potential role intergenerational programming could play in addressing chronic health conditions, discrimination, and promoting overall health. “As researchers, we’ve done a pretty good job defining health equity. The purpose of this workshop was to take it to the next level and spark intellectual curiosity: What can we do, as social workers, to create win-win solutions for older adults and younger generations? What are the theories and best practices to intergenerational programming that maximize health, economic, and social outcomes for vulnerable populations? What are the nuts and bolts to conceptualizing, implementing, and evaluating intergenerational programming? Our students absorb a lot of concepts and issues across the social work curricula. The workshop was intended for them to apply that material,” says Professor Gonzales. Several successful programming examples were highlighted, including Experience Corps by AARP, a national volunteer program for at-risk children, and Bridges Together, a program developed by Andrea Fonte Weaver to enhance academic achievement and reduce ageism. “Each participant left the program with potential models of intergenerational programming that could be applied to enhance the services provided by their particular agency,” said Reeve Goldhaber, Director of Lowy-GEM Program in Aging.
“While most participants were gerontological social work students, some students were focused on children and saw older adults as being part of the solution to an issue,” Gonzales said. “Alumni had concerns stemming from their organizations and wanted the latest evidence on what works. Some students were thinking outside the box and wanted to take intergenerational programming to new areas that focused on awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or housing displacement. I was impressed with the zeal, creativity and seriousness of our participants.”