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.
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.
Charles D. Garvin
This article presents an overview of group work with adolescents and examines how social justice is an important consideration in such work. It discusses the kinds of issues faced by adolescents and how group work assists them in coping with these. Both support and treatment groups are described along with citations of empirical evidence of their effectiveness. A typology of treatment approaches is included as well as details of the phases of the group work process.
Jessica M. Black
Although it was once widely held that development through toddlerhood was the only significant time of tremendous brain growth, findings from neuroscience have identified adolescence as a second significant period of brain-based changes. Profound modification of brain structure, function, and connectivity, paired with heightened sensitivity to environment, places adolescence both as a heightened period of risk and importantly as a time of tremendous opportunity. These findings are of key relevance for social-work policy and practice, for they speak to the ways in which the adolescent brain both is vulnerable to adverse conditions and remains responsive to positive environmental input such as interventions that support recovery and resilience.
Cynthia Franklin, Linda Webb, and Hannah Szlyk
This article will cover the current best practices in designing and establishing alternative programs for at-risk students and suggest how social workers can assist in program development and sustainability. At-risk students are youth considered more likely than others to drop out of school due to various factors, including truancy, poor grades, disruptive behaviors, pregnancy, and repeated expulsions or suspensions. The history of alternative education in the United States will be reviewed and the types of alternative educations programs in practice outlined. How the framework of an alternative school differs from that of a disciplinary program will be examined along with initial steps toward development and implementation. Effective strategies explained include establishing a task force, involving the greater community, and implementing evidence-based interventions such as Response to Intervention (RTI) into the school curriculum. An example of a sustainable public alternative education program grounded in solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is presented.
Carol M. Lewis and Shanti Kulkarni
Despite downward trends in the U.S. teen birth rate overall, the associated social and economic costs are still significant. Historically, teen pregnancy prevention policy and program adoption have been influenced by the sociopolitical environment at national, state, and local levels. Recent federal efforts have begun to re-emphasize the importance of developing and supporting evidence-based prevention efforts. Current teen pregnancy prevention approaches are reviewed with attention to the range of program philosophies, components, settings, populations served, and documented effectiveness. Promising directions in pregnancy prevention program development for adolescents are also highlighted.
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.
Craig Winston LeCroy and Jenny McCullough Cosgrove
Research has shown groups are an efficient and effective modality for interventions with school-aged children. Psychoeducational and psychotherapeutic groups are frequently used to guide children in areas such as skills training, emotional regulation, violence prevention, and grief. There are key developmental questions to consider when working with children that take into consideration factors such as cognitive development and emotional maturity. Overall, groups can be an efficient and effective intervention in the school setting for use by school social workers.
Johnny S. Kim and Calvin L. Streeter
This article presents an overview of school absenteeism, truancy, and school refusal behaviors.
The various definitions of school truancy and absenteeism are described along with prevalence rates and correlates with school absenteeism. The article also discusses interventions and strategies that are empirically demonstrated as effective in helping school professionals increase school attendance. The article concludes by discussing ways to improve school attendance through multilevel interventions.
James C. Raines
Learning disabilities (LD) are the most common disability in public schools. Since 1975, students with learning disabilities have been eligible for a free appropriate public education, including special services such as school social work. Students with LD may be diagnosed via standardized achievement measures and clinical assessment. Despite 40 years of progress, the evidence suggests that students with LD still feel stigmatized and finish college and enter the workplace at a rate much lower than their nondisabled peers. School social workers can assist students with learning disabilities by assessing their self-esteem and social skills and then providing appropriate intervention. Self-esteem interventions should target students with LD, their parents, and their peers in the least restrictive environment. Social skills interventions may target students with LD as a separate group or provide those skills as part of universal inclusive education aimed at all children in the classroom.