Advocacy and Social Action
SWK class 613: Practice III
Professor Peter Wildeman
In this paper I will discuss how I can use advocacy and social action in my field placement. I will detail whom I consider to be a population at risk, and how I can empower them to achieve an equal status the rest of society, according to the guidelines provided by the book Generalist Practice with Organizations and Communities. The populations at risk in my field placement
Populations at risk are defined (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2012) as “those groups in society most likely to suffer the consequences of, or be at risk for, discrimination, economic hardship, and oppression.” During the time that I spent in my field placement – which is at Yeshiva Avir Yakov – I identified that children with learning disabilities and children who have difficulty with social skills are populations at risk in our school. The reason why they are at risk is, because of the preconceptions of these children’s competence and ability to interact with pears in an effective manner, as well as preconceptions about their ability to perform normally academically. When one group in society is perceived as less competent and weak, this really makes them at risk to suffer from discrimination and oppression. My task as a Social Worker is to advocate for these populations, and to empower them. Advocacy is “representing, championing, or defending the rights of others.” Empowerment is “ensuring that others have the right to power, ability, and authority to achieve self-determination.” (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2012) In the next few pages I will explain in what areas these children are at risk, and what I will do to empower them. There are many areas in which I consider these children to be at risk, but the main risk for them is that they are vulnerable to bullying. Because these children are perceived as weak by their classmates, others take advantage of them, and try to tease them. The terrible effect of bullying is well known, but to put more emphasis on the subject I will quote from recent research on the rate of bullying among children with learning disabilities, and about the fatal consequences that bullying has on children. What is bullying?
“Bullying has been defined as repeated, intentional, harmful, and aggressive behavior inflicted by a person or group with seemingly more power on a person or group with lesser power.” (Nansel et al., 2001) Research on children with learning disabilities being bullied Mencap is an organization that helps children with learning disabilities to live their lives as normally as possible. They advocate for the rights of learning disabled children, and counsel their parents on many issues, from what school is best for their child, to helping these children and adolescents find work. In 2007 they did a study on bullying, it included 507 children with learning disabilities, here I will quote their findings: 82% of children and young people with a learning disability have experienced bullying. They are twice as likely to be bullied as other children. Children with a learning disability are more likely to be targeted by bullies because of their disability. They are seen as ‘different’. They may be doing different work at school, or they may find it hard to make friends or join in play activities. Other children can see them as ‘easy targets’ because they can be made to get into trouble, or because they may not understand that what is happening to them is bullying. Like racist and homophobic bullying, disables bullying is particularly harmful as it is based on prejudice. Bullying of children with a learning disability discriminates against children who find it hard to understand bullying, to tell people about it, and to be listened to and supported. It damages children’s self-esteem and has a huge impact on the way children and young people with a learning disability see themselves....
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