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.
Nancy Boyd Webb
Play makes children happy, and it also helps them problem-solve, learn, and create new imaginary worlds. Play therapy employs this natural interest to engage and help children who are having emotional difficulties. This article includes a historical overview of the development of different models of play therapy that have evolved since the 1920s and reviews some of the distinctive approaches and trends in the field. Almost all play therapists value the therapeutic relationship as critical in the helping process, but the methods of helping vary. Play therapists come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including social work. All have received education and supervision in this specialized method of practice with children. Certification as a play therapist requires post-master’s degree level training. The article pays special attention to the use of play therapy with children who have experienced crises and trauma, and to specific approaches that address this reality of modern life.
Jessica M. Black
Scientific findings from social sciences, neurobiology, endocrinology, and immunology highlight the adaptive benefits of positive emotion and activity to both mental and physical health. Positive activity, such as engagement with music and exercise, can also contribute to favorable health outcomes. This article reviews scientific evidence of the adaptive benefits of positive emotion and activity throughout the life course, with examples drawn from the fetal environment through late adulthood. Specifically, the text weaves together theory and empirical findings from an interdisciplinary literature to describe how positive emotion and activity help to build important cognitive, social, and physical resources throughout the life course.
Cynthia Franklin and Melissa Reeder
Adolescent parenthood continues to be a public health concern despite the fact that the numbers of adolescent births have been declining over the past decade. The United States ranks number one in adolescent pregnancies out of all the industrialized nations. While reducing the number of adolescent pregnancies is important, supporting those who do become young parents is equally vital and an important concern for social workers. This chapter covers the demographics of adolescent parents as well as the risk and protective factors associated with adolescent pregnancy and parenthood. In addition, it reviews the current state of program development and the need for additional research and evaluation.
Michael S. Kelly
This entry will focus on a model of intervention (the three-tier model often known as “Response to Intervention,” or RTI) that has become infused into school districts around the United States and is likely going to continue to impact the practice of school social workers and community-based social workers who provide services in schools. Since the 1990s, the literature around improving the academic achievement and behavioral functioning of school-age children has gradually focused more on RTI as a way to implement effective early intervention strategies for youth to prevent school failure. The principles of RTI have also come to be associated with a related but distinct model of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS, sometimes also called Positive Behavior Supports/PBIS or School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports/SWPBIS) and this approach has also been promoted as an effective framework to improve an entire student body’s academic and social, emotional, or behavioral functioning. This entry will discuss the history of RTI (and PBIS), the policy context for the approaches’ growing adoption in American K–12 schools, and the (still small but growing) evidence base for RTI and PBIS as approaches for schools to enhance student academic and behavioral outcomes. Additionally, the specific role of school social workers (and community-based social workers working in schools) will be highlighted, specifically how the growing influence of RTI and PBIS offers new opportunities for social workers to serve schools, students, and families.
Sanna J. Thompson
Runaway and homeless youth may be viewed as subcategories on a continuum of familial disengagement and residential instability. Runaway youth are typically identified as those who leave or are forced from their homes, often returning in a relatively short time. Homeless youth are those with no stable residence, have limited contact with family, and have become affiliated with the culture of homelessness. This entry provides background on specific policies associated with youth who run away or become homeless. Characteristics of these two groups (runaway and homeless youth) are described in terms of high-risk characteristics, such as educational difficulties, substance abuse, victimization, and trauma. Service options to meet the needs of these youth are described and implications for social work practice discussed.
Laura M. Hopson
School climate has received increasing attention from researchers and policy makers during the past two decades, as research points to its impact on student behavior and academic performance. This chapter presents definitions of school climate in the literature and provides a brief historical context for school climate research. In addition, it presents methods for assessing and intervening to improve school climate.
Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Hadass Moore, Ronald Pitner, Ron Avi Astor, and Rami Benbenishty
School climate is critical for school improvement efforts, yet questions remain regarding how best to define and measure the construct. Research demonstrates relationships between a positive school climate and important youth development and academic learning outcomes. As school climate policies continue to develop, clarification regarding the dimensions of school climate and continued research on how school climate impacts school and student outcomes remains important.
Ronald Pitner, Hadass Moore, Gordon Capp, Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Rami Benbenishty, and Ron Avi Astor
This article focuses on socio-ecological and whole-school approaches to coping with school violence, while highlighting best practices for selecting, developing, and monitoring interventions. We present several empirically supported programs, followed by identified characteristics of successful interventions and considerations on selecting an appropriate program for a particular school. Finally, we discuss the systematic monitoring method and approach and its utility in creating safer schools while emphasizing the contextual features and the nested environment in which schools reside. We suggest manners in which the systematic monitoring approach can be considered, advocated, and implemented by school staff members, particularly school social workers.
In 2006, School social work celebrated 100 years as a vibrant profession. This entry details the genesis and development of this particular specialization to the early 21st century, exploring the history of the profession, including policy and legislation that has either resulted from or affected schools on a national level. Additionally, the entry explains the knowledge base of school social work, examines the regulation and standards for both practice and practitioners, and considers future trends for the field.