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Licensed Social Workers Do Not Mean More Qualified

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Recently, I came across a Boston Herald article questioning why 34 percent of the Boston Division of Children and Families (DCF) were unlicensed social workers. The tone of the article suggests that unlicensed workers are not qualified to perform their duties while indicating that licensed social workers equated to a higher standard.

As a former Child Welfare Investigator, those who follow Social Work Helper is well aware that I am a strong advocate against the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW or equivalent) becoming the standard for all social workers especially in the public sector and child welfare. Many hear the word licensed and assume it means in compliance or adherence to a certain standard, and it does if you are providing mental health services. Until the LCSW, a doctorate in psychology was needed for diagnosing and treatment. Social Work Licensure Advocates for the LCSW changed that dynamic and have helped to make mental healthcare services more accessible. However, each state develops their own licensing requirements which often varies from state to state.

As it relates to the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) under Massachusetts’ licensing law, it means the individual social worker has a master degree in social work, and he/she is licensed to diagnosis clients with a mental health disorder and/or provide treatment to help improve their outcomes after being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Additionally, Massachusetts provides licensing for Bachelors level social workers. However, this is not the standard in North Carolina or the majority of states.

Currently, most Child Welfare Agencies require at minimum a bachelors degree in Social Work or related field. However, by requiring social work licensure, I believe it places additional financial burdens on social workers working in traditional social work roles while the Council for Social Work Education fails to address the barriers and challenges those in the public sector face in pursing a social work education.

Both Child Welfare Social Workers and Police Officers are given powers by statutory law. However, child welfare agencies are not required to be accredited and maintain minimum training and standards certifications like police departments despite recommendations by the United States Government Accounting Office (GAO). Although studies show a social work degree is the recommended degree for a child welfare setting, studies also recommend accreditation as the best course of action to improve outcomes for children and families. Having licensed social workers do not guarantee their course work was specifically for working in child welfare nor does it institute transparency, accountability, program evaluation, and minimum standards of care as well as creating standards for the Agency’s administration of policy.

Many social workers are deterred from pursing a social work education due to the barriers and oppressive polices against older, working practitioners, and/or the underpriviledged. Although I had a BSW degree and working as a Child Welfare Investigator, I had to quit my job and work for free at another human service agency in order to be in compliance with the internship requirements. Social Workers are finding themselves without health insurance and in economic turmoil in order to comply with a licensing standard that is geared towards clinical practice and not macro/public service.

The Division of Child and Family Services and other child welfare agencies act under the authority of federal, state, and local statutory laws to investigate allegations of abuse, neglect, and dependency. These agencies are also charged with making recommendations and monitoring the fitness of parents once a determination has been made following a family assessment or investigation. As a result of this statutory authority, licensing law advocates have been unsuccessful in eliminating the licensing public sector exemption for child welfare and human service agencies. However, they have been successful in creating this mandate in the private sector.

Governor Deval Patrick Addressing the Media on DCF

Governor Deval Patrick Addressing the Media on Division of Children and Families

As a Child Welfare Investigator, I brought a knowledge base of almost 14 years of interview and interrogation experience in addition to a Bachelor of Social Work. Later, I pursued a Master degree in Social Work with a concentration in management and community practice.

However, without doing an additional two years in post graduate doing therapy, I am not eligible for licensing in the State of North Carolina. Because someone can go straight to undergrad, then to graduate school, and then work an additional two years post graduate doing therapy for less than minimal wages to get a LCSW in the State of North Carolina, it does not make them more qualified as a child welfare social worker. It makes them more privileged.

Child Welfare social workers act as brokers when treatment services are needed or recommended. We connect families with community providers and resources who are trained to provide those services and make expert recommendations on their progress or lack of progress.

Child Welfare Services must coordinate between schools, police department, hospitals, and other community providers in order to obtain information and coordinate services while maintaining case documentation and hourly billing for reimbursement from the federal government. Unlike private sector project managers, child welfare social workers must complete this high wire act with limited resources and access to technology while dealing with a load of bureaucracies in poor work environments. Child Welfare Social Workers live and work in fear because the bulk of your time doing triage and cases with low activity often get re-prioritized due to high caseloads and staff shortages.

When I investigated cases, the police investigators relied on my evidence and case gathering to determine whether charges should be filed because social workers are more educated and are the experts in these cases. Social worker have both education and training in many aspects police investigators do not. Yet, often the police investigators that I interacted with had higher salaries than I did, received over-time pay or comp time in excess of a 40 hour week, and most only a high school diploma or at best a bachelor’s degree despite our jobs being classified as hazardous by both the county and the State.

If there is a tragedy, the media is asking the wrong questions, and Agencies are not going to steer you into asking the right questions. Child Welfare and Human Services Directors answer only to their Board of Directors, and they operate independently of the county or State unless State legislation has addressed this. State oversight is limited because Child Welfare Agencies predominately operate by mandate of Federal law as adopted by State law.

If you want to know why something happened, find out the case number ratios for each social worker and the amount of hours each worked. See how many children a social worker has on his/her caseload and their risk level which determines the amount of times each social worker must visit each child monthly. Look at the administrative time logged for each social worker which provides insight into actual days work,  time in meetings, time spent in case supervision, and training records. You will find the numbers won’t add up to what is humanly possible.

Do you automatically assume that each case only has one or two children in the same household or go to the same school? Eight-teen cases don’t sound like a lot, but you could easily have over 55 children with moderate to high risk levels. Moderate risk requires bi-monthly visits and high-risk requires weekly visits. Low risks require monthly visits, but they are often not enough to keep a case open for services.  No matter how many children on your caseload, you don’t stop getting cases. 

It is not uncommon for kids to leave for summer camp or go visit relatives especially when they are not in school, and a courtesy request home visit made to another Agency in another state could take months to occur. States are not connected, and sending out an alert on a missing child equates to an email and a report to law enforcement which often don’t go anywhere due to being out of their jurisdiction for investigation.  I believe the cases in Boston will expose systems failures if the right questions are answered. 

Ask for the same records and standard operating procedures, you would seek if you want to know if a police officer or police department was malfeasance and whether proper in-service training was up to date. Under current federal mandates, it is statistically impossible for the best qualified social worker to adhere to every standard and best practices. Front-line staff often take the fall while policy and system failures are not being properly identified.

Where are the supervisory case notes by each supervisor who is suppose to meet weekly with their subordinates to discuss all the children on their caseload? Are the checks and balances clearly defined by supervision and the administration to account for the whereabouts of children falling under the scope of child welfare services, and how is it monitored? 

I challenge the media to ask the right questions. In the video below, the Governor addressed allegations relayed by the school superintendent after the fact. I could write another article on the improvements needed between child welfare social workers and teachers. Social Work investigators’ caseloads are tremendously exacerbated because teachers are not trained on the differences between abuse/neglect and poverty. However, I will have to address that at another time.

Deona Hooper, MSW is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Social Work Helper, and she has experience in nonprofit communications, tech development and social media consulting. Deona has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Management and Community Practice as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

71 Comments
Hope Coates Hope Coates says:

That’s correct

I love this. These echo my thoughts exactly. Well put.

I couldn’t agree more. I have a BSW only and have been practicing medical social work ever since. I’m more than qualified to do the work. I’m disgusted that after years in the field most hospitals are requiring MSW’s for medical social work or LCSW’s. Having post graduate degrees does not make one more qualified, only experience does that.

I only have a Dipsw and took a career break to meet family commitments..now I find that instead of being able to do a refresher course or CPD I have very little opportunity or path to go down to get on the SW register. The very people who care enough to do a great job in an essential service, are being frozen out by red tape and bureaucracy. Sad times…

Susan Cobas Susan Cobas says:

This is how it works, a social worker is assigned multiple cases, many times more cases then they can handle unfortunately. The only time a social comes to the foster home is when they hear of a need to do so. Otherwise, you will see your case worker just before 18 years of age, releasing you on your birthday. Then you are on your own.

I worked 7 long years to get my BSW and MSW and I consider myself a Social Worker – I’m about to take my LMSW !!!and now work in the mental health profession !!!! I get weekly supervision

No wrench Jon Lucas. Just an opinion. I am actually a PT, whom decided to pursue SW. I have been laughed at by SW, LCSW, etc. They say you arent gonna make make money. I laugh back because I am doing this to make a difference, and can wear several hats.

Tamara Buggs Tamara Buggs says:

It’s about money. Local and state government requires education on the bachelor level along with lots of experience. More are mandating Masters and experience. SWs are going in debt with no financial compensation to live and pay school loans. SWs don’t start off too much more than what has been stated to be a living wage and raise increases are minimal.

As someone who has worked 30 yrs in child welfare at public agencies and who has had her LCSW since 1997…these are my quick thoughts–I believe the LCSW has made me more credible with community partners, has inspired me to continue to learn…go to training (CEUs), it hasn’t brought me more pay and the agency doesn’t value it but I do–my guess is the LCSW may help me get another job when I retire from this one :). I believe the license can and does raise my standards and expectations for others’ work in the field. I supervise foster care workers. In glad I have the license–I encourage others to get it and I wouldn’t give up my years in child welfare for anything–with all the crap we have to deal with–we (CW workers) rock!

Amanda Cross Amanda Cross says:

I view it as license to bill insurance…

I was licensed but let it go. It was far too expensive to keep up.

Lisa Marie Lisa Marie says:

I’ve had my MSW for over 7 years. I work in Child Welfare agency where it is not required to have a master degree. I would not be ‘More Qualified” if i were to be licensed. I receive a minimum of 20 hours of training per year which the majority is CU qualified. I don’t see spending the money for licensure as a benefit for myself or the clients I serve.

I have my bachelors in human services but couldn’t find work with it. They offered positions to individuals who have the certificate rather than the degree.

Nancy Jean Nancy Jean says:

I agree with you Social work helper. Nurses have an RN to MSN track that takes nurses with an associates degree straight to a masters degree (completely bypassing the BA degree and the expense of a university education). I agree that the LCSW credential is mostly about money. Those who can afford to pay someone for private supervision will get an lcsw 2 years after receiving the masters. The cost to pay someone privately is usually around 20k. To get an LCSW for free you would have to work for an employer that has a licensed LCSW supervisor on staff.Normally your salary at a place like that would be below average because supervision is seen as a perk and is often used as a rationalization to pay you less. In my opinion, a LSW with two years post masters experience is just as experienced as an LCSW who just got there paperwork signed. More programs should be available to give social workers the opportunity to obtain LCSW status without having to work for pennies or pay someone privately.

out of ten doctors only two re sick but out of ten social workers eight re mad

In my home state BSWs are not required to be licensed, only MSWs need to be licensed to become LMSWs (or LCSWs) if the individual chooses to do so based on whatever agency the MSW chooses to work for and their intended overall career goal(s).
Where I am currently living, the state requires a BSW to be licensed. It’s a long process (two years) most agencies do not want to hire just a BSW they want a LBSW (licensed bsw) and are not willing to hire a BSW. You don’t get additional pay…it really just seems like a way for states to get money. A BSW and a LBSW have the same schooling and unpaid internship with supervision from a MSW, the only difference between a LBSW & BSW is just extra supervision through work, taking an exam, and paying $$ that’s it and it’s draining and frankly, ridiculous.
A BSW in a state that requires licensing can’t get work without a license, can’t get a license without work. A license doesn’t show that someone would be better at performing a job than the latter. Maybe one day the states that require licensing for BSWs will see the struggle it imposes on struggling recent graduates. Then again maybe it’s an issue with the system that social workers need to fight to change.

We need to share and spread this article and make a change.

The profession had lost its voice and integrity because we don’t advocate for the profession Makes me SAD. NASW stand up for the professionalism of social work…. .

Jon Lucas Jon Lucas says:

Not to throw a wrench into your statement Keisha, but part of my work is supporting the workers who write the grants, and none of us are in this for the money.

lol medical and lawyers do all kinds of free work BEFORE they are doctors or lawyers same with BSWs and MSWs…all of their unpaid work is done while they are getting their degrees…if you dont want to pay for supervision hours then find an agency that has one…unless you live in straight rural
areas there are some available not saying its easy but anything worth getting isn’t

If you go into social work for money…. You are writting proposals, grants, etc…. Not worrying about LCSW… Helping people is the goal.

Jon Lucas Jon Lucas says:

I’m a “clinician”. Which I guess, on some level, that’s what I’m doing. But I don’t feel as if that adequately describes what I’m able to provide

Nancy Jean I often hear social workers being compared to nurses, doctors, lawyers licensing analogy. So, when will social workers start making that kind of money? Even nursing programs offer accelerated degrees and second degrees to encourage other disciplines to enter and stay in the profession. Then their clinical hours count towards their license. None of these are options to social workers and it creates barriers for those with less financial security, older, or unmarried.

I belive its optional. So dont complain if you dont use that option. Oh yea also that issue of reciprocity…

Umm..sorry but not all professions do unpaid internship…I don’t see a medical student doing free work…lawyers aren’t doing free work…why…police officers, nurses, etc…why…because of the risks…well the same risks apply for anyone working towards a BSW or MSW….we are speaking of a low paying career…
Also, there are other degrees that equate to a BSW…you have the less desirable, psychology majors, and the more desirable, sociology majors, and human service majors…BSW and MSW holders should not be able to monopolize the market especially with the shortage of workers. Not enough schools offer this program to monopolize anyhow…

Maria Sofia Panitsidis Actually, I said, “Because someone can go straight to undergrad, then to graduate school, and then work an additional two years post graduate doing therapy for less than minimal wages to get a LCSW in the State of North Carolina, it does not make them more qualified as a child welfare social worker. It makes them more privileged.”

Not everyone has a job with proper supervision to get the hours needed therefore they are doing unpaid work to get hours. Plus other professionals have the light (high pay) at the end of the tunnel. it’s sad to complete all those hours for $15hr

For those who may be confused, the commas indicate separate issues and the licensing process being one of them. Please, re-read the article for clarity as well as the included links.

Charles Barr Charles Barr says:

Yea. There’s no internship for an LCSW. Not sure where that rant was going. Any licensure process has growing pains and can be difficult to manage . For instance physical therapists had to shift to all PTs getting their doctorates and those grandfathered in had to meet some pretty crazy requirements but they understood the larger picture. I sure hope we move along like other professions and increase and better our standards.

you do unpaid internships as part of bachelors and masters level college work like many other professions do so idk why youre crying…the licensure process isn’t perfect but if after all youve done to get through school and finish and all if a sudden the licensure is a big deal then youre the problem

Randy LeBar Randy LeBar says:

I’m from Michigan. My internship was unpaid. I paid an outrageous amount for testing and I get paid almost next to nothing because the county I work in would rather put its resources into inflating its ego than pay the people who do the actual work what they deserve. The whole system is a racket, its a scam to hurt the people who actually give a damn. If I wasn’t so loyal to the agency I work at I would have left the field a long time ago but I love my agency too much

Moe Mick Fin Moe Mick Fin says:

And in Nebraska you cannot call yourself a social worker with out being licensed…So unless you are licensed you just have a BSW or MSW degree

Nancy Jean Nancy Jean says:

I agree with Larissa, you don’t see laymen people calling themselves nurses because they correctly changed a bandage or handed someone the right amount of Tylenol. It takes more than just mimicking the work duties of a profession in order to earn the title. Social work is no different. You should not be able to call yourself a social worker just because you mimic a subset of a social workers job duties. On the other hand, I believe that each social work license and certificate should represent a different set of expertise . Nurses have their titles in tiers such as “certified nurses assistant, licensed practical nurse, registered nurse “. Social workers should have something similar so that people understand that a layman, a CSW, LSW, and LCSW all represent a different level of skill and capability.

Moe Mick Fin Moe Mick Fin says:

Nebraska and many other states have title protection..Even though people may call themselves social workers and are not no employer can..My beef is that we don’t make more for being social workers…

I guess my confusion is with what states make you take unpaid internships for licensure? Again I can only speak for NYS but I had to do unpaid internships as part of my masters degree but not my licensure. If that’s the case than that’s kind of ridiculous.

No my beef is with the licensing process, unpaid internships, people have to quit work to work for free, inconsistent licensing policies from state to state, ceu cost being passed on the worker etc. The licensing process has done a lot of damage as implemented. But for an evidence based profession, no one is collecting the data to prove or disprove it. For example, How many people are having to drop out of school because of the hardship unpaid internship require while preventing people from working paid employment? No one is collecting this data and other data because it will not fitting into the narrative of current policies working. Charles, I have no problem articulating what my beef is.

I don’t call my dental hygienist a dentist and she doesn’t complain about it.

I am right there with you Drema. I will have my bachelor’s in human services this spring.

The solution is simple. Case managers don’t need licensure. Bsw or msw can practice generalist social work without s license I don’t really see an issue. There is your title and that is not an issue. In NYS those who work in clinical settings and in hospitals typically need to be licensed. Agencies are pushing for licensure for insurance purposes. Not sure how it works in other states.

Charles Barr Charles Barr says:

It doesn’t always. But it improves the over all quality of the type of social workers produced. The LCSW has, in fact, improved the social work profession. Just like the MSW has strengthened the profession. It sounds like your beef is more with the policies of child welfare than with the LCSW. I’m sure glad doctors and other legitimate professions have testing and standards.

But you just posted an article that calls those of us who worked hard for our masters degrees and our licensure “privileged” so who is splitting hairs.

So Jon Lucas.. What are you called?

Jon Lucas Jon Lucas says:

To add on to my comment… The NASW doesn’t represent me, even when I was a member of the Peace and Social Justice specialty concentration. I paid their fees and saw no benefit, and other than being a gatekeeper for special kinds of certification, I’m not sure what purpose they serve.

Jon Lucas Jon Lucas says:

I’ve got my MSW at a child welfare agency and my title doesn’t include the words Social or Worker.

Until this profession finds a way to be inclusive instead of fighting over who can call themselves a social worker, we will all suffer. We need numbers to increase outcomes for our clients and ourselves. This statement divides and does not help with a solution in my opinion.

It is critical if you want to make the big bucks! At least in New York and California.

Jon Lucas Jon Lucas says:

I’m of the opinion that licensing has been incredibly detrimental to the profession. It’s pigeonholed us into doing predominantly mental health work, which is important. However, a Social Worker can do so much more. Our unique understanding of human behavior, social environment and other factors make us uniquely situated to address a whole range of issues from mental health to community development.

Plus, lots of agencies do not want to pay more salary for those licensure!!

I completely understand where this is coming from in a child welfare agency. Individuals who do not have licenses should not be called social workers. Just my opinion though

Drema Fowler Drema Fowler says:

It’s frustrating and not cheap to meet the demands. I was homeless since 14, I seen many struggles and vowed to be the one who helps someone else not be like I was. So it’s also heart breaking to me I can’t be there to help.

We should be making it easier for people like you to stay in the profession instead of kicking you by adding so many barriers to earning an advance degree or accelerated degree taking in account your prior degrees while you work. However, even after meeting those expectations, many social workers can’t afford licensing fees, supervision cost and the ceu cost which is being passed on to the social worker.

Drema Fowler Drema Fowler says:

I love this article, I went to college earned a bachelor’s in behavioral health and human services, I really wanted to help the homeless and families, I can not because I need further accreditation as my degree isn’t enough.

Licensed Social Workers do so much more than “therapy” and I learned more getting my Masters than ever as undergrad. And have used my education and experience in every job. Those commenting here seem to have a problem with licensed social workers.

How does any of this equate to helping a social worker..we should not be divided by license or non licensed, I agree we are not better just different as an LCSW. I respect ALL social workers, as I have worked in the profession without a license for seven years. It seems that we are punished by equating our skills to only therapy. I love social work, and happen to have diverse interests in many areas. I got my license because I was encouraged to by a mentor and I often think about how this has opened doors for me, but I think we all need to be respected and paid more, license or not. Articles like this are not helpful to our profession.

I have updated the article to reflect the many places LCSWs can be found other than private practice, but if thats all you got from the article… it saddens me.

Mel Hartsell Mel Hartsell says:

I have a BSW AND MSW. I chose not to be license because not a focused in therapy. I still have the same education licensed social work have. I’m not less of a social worker. I’m heavily in favor of title protection, but not just for those with licenses. I’m a social worker without a license and I’m as qualified as every other social worker and as deserving of this title.

I know that a lot of people will be resistant to looking at this issue from a different perspective. I don’t expect everyone to see things from my perspective. As far as social work, I speak my truth, and I try to be respectful of other’s truth. Social Work has been fed a steady diet of licensing and title protection, and I realize my views are not mainstream. However, a graduate social work degree should not be required for an entry level social work job. In comparison to other male professions operating under statutes (specifically Child Welfare), law enforcement require a high school diploma. Yet public sector social workers have graduate degrees making less and often with no comp time or overtime. Instead of comparing social worker vs social worker, as a women dominated profession, we are all getting the short end of the stick. My article which I wrote specifically address Child Welfare and I hope that it is viewed in that context. I am a strong advocate for title protection as long as social work education is willing to eliminate barriers and oppressive policies preventing working practitioners from pursing a social work degree. An SW shouldn’t have to quit his/her job and go into financial hardship in order to advance in your already chosen profession.

Interesting article. I have a new perspective to consider.

This perpetuates the disrespect for Social Work. The author has not been working as an LCSW or shows poor understanding if he thinks we are all in private practice. Hire licensed, trained social workers. Pay them what they are worth and limit caseload to effective size. If the welfare of people was as important as banking, retail etc, we would have better outcomes…..not perfect….better!

from someone who worked hard to earn a lcsw what a bizarre statement. LICENSES in any fields arent a gurantee.

Hmmm not sure how I feel about this.

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Civic Engagement Can Help Teens Thrive Later in Life

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Want to help your teenagers become successful adults? Get them involved in civic activities – voting, volunteering and activism.

Although parents providing this bit of advice to teens will likely be met with groans and eye rolling, research does back it up.

In a study published in the current issue of the journal Child Development, scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that teens who were engaged in civic activities were more likely than non-engaged peers to attain higher income and education levels as adults.

“We know from past research that taking part in civic activities can help people feel more connected to others and help build stronger communities, but we wanted to know if civic engagement in adolescence could enhance people’s health, education level and income as they become adults,” said Parissa J. Ballard, Ph.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and principal investigator of the study.

Ballard and her team used a nationally representative sample of 9,471 adolescents and young adults from an ongoing study called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Participants were between the ages of 18 to 27 when civic engagement was measured, and then six years later outcomes – health, education and income – were measured.

The research team used propensity score matching, a statistically rigorous methodology to examine how civic engagement related to later outcomes regardless of participants’ background characteristics, including levels of health and parental education. For example, adolescents who volunteered were matched to adolescents from similar backgrounds who did not volunteer to compare their health, education and income as adults.

“Relative to other common approaches used in this kind of research, this method lets us have greater confidence that civic engagement really is affecting later life health and education,” Ballard said.

The research team found that volunteering and voting also were favorably associated with subsequent mental health and health behaviors, such as a fewer symptoms of depression and lower risk for negative health behaviors including substance use.

For teens who were involved in activism the findings were more complex. Although they too had a much greater chance of obtaining a higher level of education and personal income, they also were involved in more risky behaviors six years later, Ballard said.

“In this study, we couldn’t determine why that was the case, but I think activism can be frustrating for teens and young adults because they are at a stage in life where they are more idealistic and impatient with the slow pace of social change,” Ballard said. “I would encourage parents to help their children remain passionate about their cause but also learn to manage expectations as to short- and long-term goals.”

This research was supported in part by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a cooperative agreement for the Adolescent and Young Adult Health Research Network.

Co-authors are: Lindsay Till Hoyt, Ph.D., of Fordham University and Mark C. Pachucki, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts.

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Facebook Comes Up With Anti-Harassment Tools for Messenger

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Amidst growing concerns of online harassments in Facebook, which of late has seen a drastic increase, some action from the social media giant was always expected. In a new moved to curb such incidents, Facebook recently announced a set of anti-harassment tools for its Messenger platform.

With almost 1.3 billion active users, Messenger is now a favorite of those, who specialize in this sort of activity. The move is aimed towards safeguarding the interest of vulnerable individuals and groups, who are often the target of much malice and ridicule.

What anti-harassment tools are meant for?

The anti-harassment tools are conceived to identify and restrict blocked contacts from reaching the aggrieved party, by creating a new or separate account.

Moreover, people who are abused online through the Messenger now have an opportunity to filter out conversations, that are completely off-the-hook. In short, without having to block the sender, the messages could be viewed and the sender will never know about it.

Already, the liberal and human rights groups have welcomed this move and are terming it as “concrete steps that in the long runs improves online safety”. Surely, these are good signs and there might be more. Especially in the context of survivors of domestic violence, this new security arrangement offers them some much-needed respite.

How do these tools work?

In a bid to identify the repeated offenders, Facebook will trace the IP address, so as to keep an eye on fake accounts and that of the owner. This is done to prevent the new account owners from contacting someone, who has already blocked them on Messenger.

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, speaking on the new harassment tools said:”We’ve come across stories of people, who have blocked some users only to find them with a different account. To stop such incidents in the near future, we’re currently working on enhancing the existing security protocols that make it difficult for users to come up fake and inauthentic accounts.”

Unless the person who blocked the original account initiates contact with the new account, the conversation will be a one-way traffic. This, by and large, gives some amount of control to the victim of harassment.

Facebook has also released a feature that allows the user to ignore conversations. The new feature prominently stands out, because not only it disables conversations, but will also move the same into a filtered message folder.

As of now, the new feature is being extended only for one-on-one messages. However, a more enhanced version will be made available soon for group messages.

Bottom-Line

Facebook is also working closely with experts from diverse fields, in order to provide the Facebook users with safety resources. The company has even teamed up with the National Network to End Domestic Violence and is looking at the various threat perceptions and experiences, faced by journalists on Facebook.

The new anti-harassment tools are simple, yet effective. For people, who have been a victim of online abuse, these measures are bound to have a positive impact. Although there is a limit to how much Facebook can control, at least, the new security mechanism will key the online predators at bay, to an extent.

Have any Queries :

For those, who are victims of online abuse, they can contact our Facebook security experts for more information.

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Child Welfare

Getting Care Right for All Children – Free Online Course

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Join over 5,000 learners from across 172 countries who now understand just how important the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children are when caring and protecting vulnerable children.

Now is your chance to register to be part of this FREE global online course. Starting on 19 February, it is open to everyone who is interested in or responsible for children’s care and protection.

It only takes a maximum of 4 hours a week to take part in this six-week truly interactive course. Allowing you to learn wherever and whenever it suits you.

By the end of it, you’ll better understand the key principals, pillars and implications of the UN Guidelines. You’ll also connect and learn from people throughout the world.

What to expect?

During this course, you’ll have access to a mixture of learning materials including:

  • A film following a family moving through the care system.
  • Filmed lectures, articles and reports from world leading experts.
  • Online discussions to debate, ask questions and share opinions.
  • Quizzes.

Commissioned by leading international agencies, the course is run by CELCIS and delivered through FutureLearn, the digital education platform.

Course materials delivered in English, with some course materials available in French and Spanish. Don’t miss your chance to take part!

This course is designed for practitioners and policymakers from both state and non-state bodies (such as NGOs, CBOs and private service providers) and anyone working in providing services around children’s care.

This might include social workers, para-social workers, community support workers, lawyers, psychologists, child protection professionals, teachers, medical workers and care workers, including those in family-based and residential settings.

The course will also be accessible for people not working directly in this field and others with an interest or responsibility in the field of child protection and child care.

The course will be conducted in English with some course materials (including text and videos) also accessible in Spanish and French, reflecting the truly global nature of this issue.

What previous participants said:

‘I really enjoyed this course and gained a lot from what has been shared in articles, videos and other learners’ posts. This has already impacted my work.’ – Participant from Togo

‘I have learned so much about what happens in other countries around the world. I will continue to reflect on my current practice.’ – Participant from Swaziland

To get access to this free resources, sign up here.

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News

Changing the Lens on Poverty Research

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Using an innovative technique to measure poverty, a Georgia Institute of Technology economics professor has found that more older Americans live in deprivation than official statistics suggest.

Shatakshee Dhongde, associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, found that 12.27 percent of senior citizens were deprived in two or more crucial areas, including multiple disabilities, low income, a lack of education, and severe housing burden.

Dhongde said the research illustrates a shortcoming in the official measure of poverty in the United States, which focuses solely on income. The federal government reported that 9.5 percent of older Americans were living in poverty in 2013. That is below the 12.3 percent rate found in Dhondge’s multidimensional poverty index.

Research Reveals Deprivation beyond Official Poverty Count

According to Dhongde’s research, nearly four in ten older U.S. residents reported being deprived in at least one of the four categories: multiple disabilities, low income, a lack of education, and severe housing burden.

Moreover, many of those living with multiple deprivations were not income poor. For instance, 3.6 percent of seniors experienced both multiple disabilities and severe housing burden, but would not appear in official poverty statistics because their income was above poverty line threshold.

Race plays a role, as well. Dhongde found that white senior citizens were less likely to be deprived, while Asian, African-American, and Hispanic seniors were more likely to be deprived. In fact, Dhongde found that 30 percent of Hispanic seniors were deprived in two or more dimensions.

Study Relies on Census Data

The study draws on the 2013 edition of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which includes detailed data on economic, housing, educational, and healthcare circumstances of people living in the United States.

Dhongde, a faculty member in the School of Economics within the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, is in the vanguard of economic researchers examining multidimensional deprivation in the United States. Thinking of deprivation in a multidimensional manner is a way of looking beyond income while measuring poverty.

“The main idea is that you change the lens and look at overlapping deprivations,” she said. “So I’m not separately looking at what percent of the elderly population was deprived in X and what percent was deprived in Y and so on. Instead, I choose one individual and then analyze how many deprivations he or she is facing simultaneously.”

By examining multiple areas that can affect a person’s quality of life, Dhongde says the multidimensional poverty index can provide better insight into the population’s broader economic condition. It can also give policymakers tools to gauge where best to focus limited resources.

Multidimensional Analysis Gains Traction

The research follows up on a groundbreaking 2017 paper that Dhongde co-authored with Robert Havemen of the Institute of Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In that paper, Dhongde and Haveman showed that during the “Great Recession” which gripped the United States economy from 2008 to 2013, nearly 15 percent of working-age U.S. residents were deprived in at least two of the measures.

Most of those in the study who were multidimensionally deprived were low-income earners whose incomes exceeded the poverty line.

That paper was the first in the United States to take a comprehensive look at multidimensional poverty at a national level, but similar techniques are taking hold internationally.

The United Nations has used a similar approach in measuring poverty since 2010. The European Union has also adopted a multidimensional approach. The United States government, however, still assessed poverty largely using income data alone.

Dhongde said that her latest research suggests avenues for policymakers to approach quality-of-life issues and health care costs among the nation’s growing elderly population.

For instance, her research shows that people with little education are more likely to have health issues. This suggests that policy makers could address literacy as a way to help people make better health choices — and hold down the spiraling cost of health care.

New Areas of Study to include Transportation

Dhongde is now working to extend the research model to other fields that could benefit from such analysis.

She is currently working with Laurie Garrow, a professor of transportation systems engineering in Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Garrow is interested in developing a transportation deprivation index to help guide transit decisions — particularly in rural areas.

“As transportation engineers, we have regulatory requirements to ensure we are designing public transportation systems in ways that are fair and equitable for all individuals,” Garrow said.” By better understanding how transit dependency characteristics, such as income, employment, disabilities, etc., are related and how these characteristics are spatially distributed, we can design public transit services to better meet individuals’ needs.”

Dhongde said such a tool might use data sets to produce a comprehensive evaluation of transportation factors such as access to private cars, availability of mass transit, and even how often public transportation is available, and how far people have to travel to get groceries or go to school.

Dhongde’s new research appears in the book, Measuring Multidimensional Poverty and Deprivation: Incidence and Determinants in Developed Countries.

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Child Welfare

Tracking the Impact of Early Abuse and Neglect

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Children who experience abuse and neglect early in life are more likely to have problems in social relationships and underachieve academically as adults.

Maltreatment experienced before age 5 can have negative effects that continue to be seen nearly three decades later, according to a new study led by Lee Raby, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Utah.

“It is not a controversial statement to say abuse and neglect can have harmful consequences,” Raby said. “This study adds to that by showing that these effects are long term and don’t weaken with time. They persist from childhood across adolescence and into adulthood.”

The journal Child Development published the study. Co-authors are: Glenn I. Roisman and Madelyn H. Labella, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota; Jodi Martin, Department of Psychology, York University; R. Chris Fraley, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Jeffry A. Simpson, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota.

Raby said his team wanted to know two things: Does maltreatment early in life have long-term associations that extend into adulthood and do those effects remain stable or weaken over time?

The researchers used data from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation, which has followed participants since their births in the mid-1970s. The U study looked at data on 267 individuals who had reached ages between 32 and 34.

Information about the participants’ exposure to physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect was gathered from multiple sources during two age periods: 0-5 years and 6-17.5 years. Throughout childhood and adolescence, teachers reported on the children’s functioning with peers. The children also completed standardized tests on academic achievement. The participants were interviewed again during their 20s and 30s, during which they discussed romantic experiences and educational attainment.

Unlike studies based on adults’ retrospective accounts of their childhood experiences, the data used here were collected in real-time. In addition, because data on the participants has been collected throughout their lifetimes, the researchers were able to disentangle the effects of maltreatment that occurred in their early years from experiences of abuse and neglect during later childhood.

“The design allows us to ask our two questions in a way no other study has before,” Raby said.

Raby said the findings showed those who experienced abuse or neglect early in life consistently were less successful in their social relationships and academic performance during childhood, adolescence and even during adulthood. The effects of maltreatment did not weaken as the participants got older.

“The harmful effect of early abuse and neglect was just as important when we were looking at outcomes at age 32 years as when we looked at outcomes at age 5,” he said.

The researchers found abuse and neglect in later childhood also impacted these competencies in adulthood, but that later maltreatment did not fully account for persistent and long-term influences attributed to abuse and neglect experienced in early childhood. They also found long-term difficulties with social functioning — but not academic achievement — occurred independent of such factors as gender, ethnicity and early socioeconomic status.

“These findings add more evidence for the importance of identifying high-risk families and attempting to intervene before experiences of abuse and neglect occur,” Raby said.

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News

Assessments Often Miss Mental Health Issues for Youth on Probation

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An assessment tool used by many jurisdictions within the juvenile justice system that is intended to help recognize the effects of adversity and trauma in children’s lives is not the best means of evaluating mental health problems faced by at-risk youth, according to new study by a University at Buffalo social work researcher.

The groundbreaking research, which lead author Patricia Logan-Greene believes is among the first studies to connect the adverse childhood experience (ACE) assessment for juveniles on probation to mental health problems, could help improve the justice system’s responses to court-involved youth, especially those who have experienced maltreatment and trauma.

“The United States continues to have a massive juvenile justice system that does not, generally speaking, serve youth well,” says Logan-Greene, an assistant professor in UB’s School of Social Work. “We suspect that the way mental health is often assessed in the juvenile justice system is missing many mental health problems – in particular with disadvantaged youth.”

The number of youth on probation is a far larger group than those who are incarcerated or in treatment facilities. Yet most of the research literature is on that smaller population.

“We may have identified a gap,” says Logan-Greene. “The court assessment asks whether youth have ever been diagnosed with a mental illness.  That question makes a lot of big assumptions like equal access to health care and equal desire to access mental health care, which has a lot to do with stigma.

“A better assessment tool would address symptomology,” she says.

The problems faced by youth on probation are widespread, according to Logan-Greene. The vast majority have histories of child abuse, family dysfunction and social disadvantage.

“Only 25 percent have no history of abuse,” she says. “One of my elevator speeches argues against punitive responses for youth with histories of trauma.”

Although most jurisdictions do assess mental health, these are not necessarily good assessments – and some jurisdictions aren’t assessing for this at all. A single question to capture all aspects of mental health simply isn’t sufficient.

“While the adverse childhood experience tool has done wonderful things to help us recognize the importance of adversity and trauma in children’s lives, there is still room for improvement,” she says. “For instance, there is nothing in the ACE tool about childhood poverty, and we know from previous research that childhood poverty is deeply damaging.”

In the current study, Logan-Greene and her co-authors Robert L. Tennyson and Paula S. Nurius, both from the University of Washington, and Sharon Borja, University of Houston, divided their assessment of childhood adversity into childhood maltreatment, family dysfunction including substance abuse, family history of mental illness, physical health problems with the family, and social disadvantage, using a diverse sample of more than 5,300 youth on probation.

The findings suggest a clear connection between childhood maltreatment and mental health problems.  Although there did not appear to be a relationship between social disadvantage and mental health problems, there was a connection between mental health and the symptoms of social disadvantage such as coping problems, social isolation and what the authors call aspirations or the measure of hope for the future.

“Because social disadvantage did have a negative effect on those indicators we suspect the court assessments are not picking up what are probably undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems among disadvantaged youth,” Logan-Greene says.

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