There are over 111,565 forensic social workers currently employed in the United States, but few people have any idea what they do. Forensic social workers are involved in both criminal and civil cases that can include termination of parental rights, juvenile and adult justice services, corrections, and mandated treatment. They fight against oppression that is exhibited through exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, violence, criminalization, and cultural dominance or imperialism. Forensic social workers assist individuals of all ages, handling child custody, juvenile arrest, and child maltreatment, elder abuse, divorce, civil disputes and criminal offending and imprisonment. As counselors they may provide psychosocial counseling, group counseling or mediation services. As a case manager or liaison, they link the legal world with the field of social work. They may be employed across a wide variety of settings such as court systems, mental health agencies, rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities, hospitals, child and family agencies, prisons, and faith-based institutions.
Tom Wolfe labeled the baby boomers the "Me" generation and the label has been applied to every generation since. GenZers and Millennials have been accused of pathological self-involvement and narcissism resulting from the "helicopter" parents that raised them. This blog thinks, however, that this continued characterization is unfair and would like to recount a story about kindness and empathy across generations.
As so often happens in our modern 24-hour news cycle the latest crisis pushes any ongoing crisis off the front page and out of public consciousness. COVID 19 and January 6th have all but eliminated the opioid addiction epidemic from our front-page view. However, the crisis has not gone away. Provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before. The new data documents that estimated overdose deaths from opioids increased to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, up from 56,064 the year before. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in the 12-month period ending in April 2021.
Most people think social workers are like high school friends that are willing to help in any way they can. They are willing to listen to your problems then try to think up some way to help you out. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As stated in Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
"Every child in conflict with the law has the right to be treated in a manner that takes into account “the desirability of promoting [his/her] reintegration and [his/her] assuming a constructive role in society.”
Every child deserves a happy childhood, but unfortunately, many do not receive one.
A child's childhood can be filled with a variety of 'bad' experiences. While child abuse at the hands of guardians remains one of the major contributors, children can struggle with other adverse experiences as well. Whatever the negative childhood experience was, it can have a long-term negative impact on the child's health as an adult. This is due to the fact that early childhood and adolescence are highly formative years in a person's cognitive and personal development.
Here's how bad childhood experiences can affect your health for the rest of your life.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a heritable neurodevelopmental disability that is characterized by delayed or inconsistent development in social interaction and communication and a restricted repertoire of activity and interests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found a higher prevalence of autism in children than ever before. Autism Spectrum Disorder is currently occurring at a rate of 1 in 59 children in the United States, an 18% increase over the past two years and a 151% increase since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first began to monitor the prevalence of ASD in 2000. Social work academics believe that increased prevalence can be explained, in part, by changes in diagnostic criteria, diagnostic substitution, improved awareness in the public, and increased recognition by clinicians.
In the 2004 film, The Notebook, James Garner watches Gina Rowlands, the love of his life, slip away into the isolation of Alzheimer's disease. Garner's character reflects as Gina Rowlands stares off into the space of her isolated mind:
"The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected. Maybe they always have been and will be. Maybe we've lived a thousand lives before this one and in each of them we've found each other. And maybe each time, we've been forced apart for the same reasons. That means that this goodbye is both a goodbye for the past ten thousand years and a prelude to what will come."
One of the most diverse and rewarding career paths is social work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor, it is also one of the fastest-growing professions. While you are assisting people and society and empowering them, you must also ensure that you are managing everything properly. Case management in social work entails ensuring that all individuals' needs are met.
The focus of social work has shifted from providing immediate support as a safety net to the vulnerable to striving for a better long-term outcome for each client. In child and family services, the mission no longer ends at removing an endangered child from a dysfunctional household but now extends to how a Child Welfare Agency might help the child grow into a productive member of society. In other words, what will be the ultimate outcome for the child?