The article’s main social concern is to examine prevention and intervention methods and their subsequent impact on family poverty and children’s mental, emotional and behavioral health. As a conceptual framework, Yoshikawa, Aber and Beardslee (2012), tackle four aspects of poverty, the family and child as the main subjects or selection factors, the multidimensional nature of poverty, the mechanisms through which poverty effects children on an individual, relational and institutional level, and the multidimensionality of children’s outcomes. The authors used two types of interventions. The first set of interventions were advanced by experts in child and family development, targeting the mediating mechanisms such as socioemotional learning processes, delivered by teachers and parenting skills, focusing on parental mental health, cognitive stimulation, in order to prevent M-E-B problems among poor children. The second sets of interventions were, based on strategies developed by economist and policy experts, aimed at reducing poverty itself. Based on multiple research findings, the authors are able to prove a causal effect between poverty and the negative impact on M-E-B health of children (Yoshikawa et al., 2012). Critical Application of Theory to Social Concerns or Human Behavior
The issues of poverty are complex. Therefore a comprehensive approach is necessary in examining poverty’s effects on children’s M-E-B health. Using concepts from systems theory and ecological perspective, one can examine the many different systems that interact, and directly or indirectly influence the M-E-B health of the child at-risk. Ludwig von Bertalanffy, developed general systems theory in the early 1920s, it underwent many iterations over the years and is now referred to as dynamic systems theory or systems theory (Zaastrow & Kirst-Ashmas, 2009). A system is a complex whole comprised of parts that work together in an orderly way, toward the achievement of a common goal. General system theory analyses how systems interact and influence one another. The main protagonist in systems theory is the concept of person-in-environment: the exchange between persons and the various systems around them (Zaastrow & Kirst-Ashmas, 2009). It has been adopted by the social work community, as a way to view and assess human behavior across a wide range of social disciplines (DeHoyos & Jensen, 1985). The ecological perspective was born from earlier theoretical foundations stemming from biological and social science disciplines: anthropology, psychology, ecology, sociology and most importantly general systems theory (Greene, 1999). In order to truly understand and effect positive change in a client’s behavior and environment, the social worker has to go beyond the direct practice of examining the client’s internal dialogue and interpersonal processes. Germain (1973), introduced the concept of ecological perspective, as a way to combine the different theoretical concepts and models of social work practice into a multi-disciplinary approach (Robbins, Chatterjee & Canda, 2012). The ecological approach mandates that an individual or organization be understood in the context of their environment. The main idea is that the person and environment are inseparable (Greene, 1999). Furthermore, the individual and their environment must be viewed as a unitary system, in which each mutually impacts the other (Greene, 1999). The role of a social worker is to examine the transactions between the person and environment by assessing all levels of systems affecting a client’s adaptiveness or Goodness-of-fit (Greene, 1999). Brofenbrenner (1979) suggests four levels of ecological components as a useful framework. Micro, meso, exo and macro systems (Zaastrow & Kirst-Ashmas, 2009). In order to fully comprehend poverty’s grip on children and their families, factors pertaining to three different levels need to be observed: individual factors or microsystems,...
References: Dehoys, G. & Jensen, C. (1985). The systems approach in American social work. Social Casework, 66, 490-497.
Germain, C.B (1973). An ecological perspective in casework practice. Social Casework, 54(6),323-331.
Greene, R. (1999). Ecological perspective: An eclectic theoretical framework for social work practice (2nd Ed.)
Robbins, S. P., Chatterjee, P. & Canda E. R., (2012). Contemporary human behavior theory. A critical perspective for Social Work (3rd Ed.)
Zasrtrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashmas, K. K., (2009). Understanding human behavior in the social environment. Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning
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