Many legacy nonprofits suffer from a cliché image. They diligently support the original clientele that inspired their formation, but millennial donors do not identify with their legacy missions. Rather, young donors are concerned with society’s current challenges.
“Opioid addiction is here to stay,” said a social work professor we recently interviewed. “But as long as we turn away from the horrors of this widespread addiction and choose to remain in denial, we will not make a concerted effort to widely administer treatment. The pharmaceutical industry has already created both long term treatments and emergency life-saving medications that are simply not being administered on a wide enough scale. I believe that a nationwide effort to make these medications available to anyone trapped in this particular substance abuse disorder should be a number-one priority for the social work profession at large.”
Larry Breitenstein, PhD, chair of the social work department at Slippery Rock University, remembers child protection work in Kentucky in the early '70s. "I used to carry extra canned food in my car, just in case. Almost half my families needed help with food. Food stamps were new and food banks were scarce. We had petty cash for food, but it was never enough. I almost always bought food because I never knew when I was going to find a starving kid."
Few Americans can look at "human trafficking" with clear vision. The legacy of slavery in America is so distasteful that we prefer to remain in denial and look away from this modern iteration of slavery. Latin American countries, however, where many of the victims are preyed upon, take a much harder look at this criminal depravity and proactively strive to curtail its devastation.
The social work community must put the political debate aside and confront the moral and ethical questions that illegal immigration imposes on the profession.
“It is not our job or responsibility to determine how to control our borders,” one experienced social worker said. “The fact is that millions of immigrants have gotten into our country without legal status and have brought little children with them. They may not be U.S. citizens and are not entitled to citizen’s benefits, but they are human beings and are entitled to humane treatment and that is where social work comes in. Social workers have sworn to protect and support the vulnerable and at the same time uphold and defend the laws of the United States. It’s easy to see how well-meaning social workers might struggle with the moral and ethical dilemma presented by illegal immigrants.”
Social work is an evolving profession and every year new challenges emerge. When December rolls around it is our custom to interview three experienced social workers (one from the East Coast-one from the West Coast-and one from Nebraska) and ask them to share any new themes that may have emerged in their practices.
Women are used to putting their own needs on the back burner. They attend to infants, young children, and teenagers, all the while telling themselves that there will be time enough for themselves when their kids are grown. But what happens when an adult child turns out to have mental health concerns, substance abuse disorder, or financial or employment issues? Social workers who work with the elderly tell us that many older mothers are sinking under the weight of troubled adult children. It’s hardly a discovery that mothers sacrifice their own needs for the sake of their children. What is news is how this sacrifice continues to affect the lives of older mothers.
We recently overheard two nine-year-olds discussing a Thanksgiving food bank ad they happened to be watching on T.V.
NYO#1 “Look at all those turkeys. Who gets them all?"
NYO#2 "Hungry children in China."
NYO#1 "Do they have Thanksgiving in China?"
NYO#2 "I guess so. They must, or they wouldn't need so many turkeys."
NYO#1 "Wow. They sure have a lot of hungry people."
NYO#2 "Yup. They do. Everybody in China is hungry."
Since the 1900s, U.S. public schools have employed a growing number of school resource officers (SROs) – sworn law enforcement officials. In 1975, only 1% of schools reported having police officers on site, but by 2018, approximately 58% of schools had at least one sworn law enforcement official present during the school week. Since 1998, the federal government has invested over $1 billion to explicitly increase police presence in schools, and over $14 billion to advance community policing, which can include SROs.
No police department killed George Floyd. One policeman did. Yes, others stood by and are responsible for valuing institutional loyalty over human life. But in the end, it was one individual policeman who committed this heinous crime.
“People’s impressions of the police are influenced by the police. The greatest influence is [an individual’s] personal interactions and the personal interactions of their friends and families," says Darrel W. Stephens, MS, co-director of the Policing, Security Technology, and Private Security Research and Policy Institute at Florida State University.
Topics: social issues