WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers is pleased to announce Indiana social worker Kimber Nicoletti-Martinez is the recipient of the National Social Worker of the Year Award for her tireless work in preventing sexual violence, particularly among often marginalized populations such as farm workers and people who are Latinx or LGBTQ.
“Sexual violence is a serious problem that can have long-term emotional effects on survivors, their family, friends, and communities,” said NASW CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW. “Prevention work in this sensitive area can also be daunting. However, Ms. Nicoletti-Martinez has brought a high level of commitment, creativity, and solid social work practice into addressing this issue.”
The NASW National Social Worker of the Year Award honors a member of the association who has demonstrated the best of the profession’s values and achievements through specific accomplishments. The award also highlights superb accomplishments in the practice of social work.
The accomplishments of Kimber Nicoletti-Martinez, MSW, LCSW, are impressive. She developed the Multicultural Efforts to End Sexual Assault (MESA) at Purdue University’s Department of Youth Development and Agricultural Education. MESA is a statewide program in Indiana committed to preventing sexual violence in multicultural communities and other underserved and underrepresented populations in Indiana, including people who are Latinx immigrant, Native American, or LGBTQ.
Nicoletti-Martinez created the first farm worker child sexual abuse prevention effort and is a member of the Just Beginnings Collaborative which is a platform created to advance the movement to end child sexual abuse. She also developed sexual violence prevention programs targeted specifically to farmworker communities; Indiana’s first campus-based violence prevention program aimed at people who are LGBTQ; and bilingual and bicultural mental health services in community health clinics.
Her work has already gained attention as she was recognized by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the first sexual violence prevention advocate focused on migrant farmworker communities. She was also named NASW Indiana Chapter Social Worker of the Year in 2017, Inspirational Leader at the Indiana Coalition Ending Sexual Assault and was recently profiled in Latina Magazine.
“NASW is proud to honor Ms. Nicoletti-Martinez with the Social Worker of the Year Award,” McClain said. “She is an exemplary social worker who has had the courage and integrity to be a champion, an advocate and a voice for people our society often marginalizes.”
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.
Helping Your Kid Transition Back to School
As we help our sons and daughters get ready to return to school, let’s reflect on our own readiness to promote our kids’ best emotional development during the school year. Consider these dimensions:
Resist the urge to become the homework police. Let them take responsibility for homework; let them approach it in their own way. Assignments might not get done as well as we’d like, but limiting ourselves to only a simple reminder allows children to build a sense of personal agency. Beyond that rests between them and their teachers (see June 2014).
Neuroscience has revealed the centrality of adequate sleep in consolidating the day’s learning — athletic and academic — especially the night before a performance or important test (see Sept/Oct 2014). And be alert to the risks of bright screens before bedtime (see June 2018).
It builds each time kids encounter and survive moments of ordinary childhood adversity. Rarely rescue by delivering their lunch or the schoolwork they left behind that morning; they’ll survive. And rarely fight their battles for them with classmates or teachers — just offer empathy and a strong vote of confidence that they will find ways to work things out (see November 2011).
It develops in part when they do for themselves all that they’re capable of doing, rather than depending on us to find their sweater, solve their math problems or tidy up after their snack. Insist they get themselves out of bed on school mornings, dress and gather their belongings, and leave the house on time (or face the school’s consequences if they show up late).
Feeling authentically worthy develops through being loved and validated for qualities of good character and simply for being a valued part of our lives, not for earning certain grades or demonstrating athletic prowess. Show delight just to greet the kids at the end of the school day, without racing to ask, How was the test? (See The New Self-Esteem).
Help them understand that they aren’t the center of the universe, that their individual wants and needs (like homework, practice or a friend’s slumber party) cannot always trump the needs of others (like family dinner time, a sibling’s piano recital or grandma’s birthday party). Our kids do well to learn that they’re no better or no less than any of their classmates…and that respectful behavior toward their teachers must be unwavering.
What Schools Can Do To Reduce Risky Behaviors and Suicides Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth
A high school English teacher in New Mexico told me about one of his students who had difficulty focusing in class. When the teacher showed concern, the student confided in him that her parents had kicked her sister out of the house after they found out she was dating a girl. The teacher tried his best to console the student and referred her to the school counselors for help.
The next year, the same girl sought his support when her parents took similar punitive measures against her because she, too, came out as a lesbian. This time he spoke openly with her, explaining that she had to keep her spirits up; that no matter what happened, she had to be true to herself. In concluding the story for me, the teacher explained that he knows the school needs to be a safe place in a community that may not accept his student. But even though he strives to create a safe environment, he does not think all staff people or students at the school are equally accepting.
At another high school, I heard something quite different. When asked about the experience of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, an administrator responded – simply and implausibly – “We don’t have any of those kids at this school.”
Such accounts from teachers, administrators, nurses, and counselors illustrate the importance of schools and school staff for students struggling with their sexual orientation in a world that does not always support or even acknowledge their existence. Paradoxically, schools are often the only places lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth may find marginally more accepting than the surrounding community – and of course schools may not be more accepting. The everyday traumas experienced by these youth, especially when they find themselves in schools that ignore their needs, can put lesbian, gay, and bisexual students at increased risk for depression, substance misuse, and suicide.
Research Links Suicide to Sexuality
According to the Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-fifths of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth have seriously contemplated suicide. These young people are three times more likely to think about taking their own lives than their straight peers and four times more likely to actually plan and attempt suicide.
In addition to risk of suicide, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are twice as likely to be bullied or threatened with a weapon on campus and three times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe. Risk behaviors that could result in negative health outcomes are also prevalent at a higher rate among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. For example, such young people have higher rates of smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, misusing prescription medicines, and using dangerous drugs including cocaine and heroin.
These statistics underline serious threats to many American young people. What can be done? The Center for Disease Control has identified several evidence-based ways to reduce the risk of suicide and risk behaviors among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth – by creating safer and more supportive school environments. So far, however, these strategies have not been fully or consistently implemented, and they are only rarely combined to create an optimum response.
How Schools Can Help
Schools are a critical point of intervention because they are the places where students spend most of their waking hours. When it comes to reducing risky or suicidal behaviors, schools are second in importance only to families. School nurses and counselors also often provide the first line of response to student medical or behavioral health issues. In rural settings where resources can be scarce, the school or school-based health center may be the main place students can find support or help. Based on available evidence, the Center for Disease Control has defined several strategies that can be adopted and combined to ensure that all American young people are supported and protected, regardless of their sexual orientation. According to these recommendations, schools can take the following steps – and, to date, only eight percent of schools do all.
- Create “safe spaces” like a designated classroom, office, or student organization where students can receive support from school staff or other students. Only about 60% of schools currently have such spaces available.
- Prohibit bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender expression. Most schools report having such policies in place, but a fraction of them do not.
- Facilitate access to medical health and behavioral health providers with experience serving lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Fewer than half of US. high schools facilitate such access.
- Promote professional lessons on how staff can create safe and supportive school environments. Less than 60% of high schools provide this type of support to their faculty.
- Deliver health education that includes information relevant to lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Only one-fourth of U.S. schools do this.
These strategies are an important way to address the needs of not only lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, but may also help transgender and gender non-conforming students as well. Unfortunately, research on these subgroups and programs to help them remains to be done. An important recent development is the inclusion a gender identity question in the 2017 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey.
Recognizing the existence of sexual and gender minorities in America’s schools and gathering large-scale data about their experiences can provide a clearer picture of the challenges various groups of students face – and, in turn, allow improved responses to their needs. By creating safer and more supportive school environments, we can reduce dangerous behaviors, eliminate many suicides, and improve academic and health outcomes, not only for sexual and gender minority youth, but also for all other students in our schools. Problems and tragedies that affect some students reverberate among many – and undermine America’s future.
Teachers Aren’t Receiving the Support They Need, but You Can Help
Better school funding, better pay, and better benefits, these are a few of the demands fueling teachers’ recent strikes and walkouts across the U.S., including those in Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado, West Virginia, and Oklahoma. In the wake of the action, these states have taken the first steps to improve school funding.
However, many would argue that we still have a long way to go before we can honestly say that teachers are compensated fairly or that schools have the right supplies to provide a proper education and a healthy learning environment.
We have a lot of work to do, and speaking up is just the beginning. Education is one of the rare issues in which we can make a profound difference on a local level. Along with choosing to participate in strikes or attend walkouts, consider these five ways you can support teachers, both locally and nationwide:
1. Support teachers and schools financially.
There is a significant disparity in the amount of funding that each school receives, which creates a huge quality gap. According to our “Classroom Trends” report, teachers spend an average of $381 of their own money on classroom supplies each year. The problem is worse in regions with lower educational funding, where teachers are forced to spend a yearly average of nearly $500 on classroom supplies. That expense is deducted from a salary that’s already low compared to other professions with similar levels of education and experience.
By donating books, school supplies, or money, you can help offset that high out-of-pocket cost. Check out DonorsChoose, an organization that makes it easy to fund projects at specific schools. To take a more hands-on approach, you can visit schools near you, learn about their needs, and then hold a fundraiser to address those needs.
If you’re unable to make in-kind donations, consider offering gift cards from your business or place of work. You can also offer exclusive teacher appreciation discounts to show your support. Because teachers are spending a lot out of pocket, anything you can do to lessen that burden helps. For example, at Staples, teachers can earn rewards for classroom purchases and up to 10 percent cash back.
If you simply cannot afford to make a financial donation, consider shopping from businesses that support teachers. There are several companies with a dedication to education, even if their industry does not directly correlate. For example, WeAreTeachers recently partnered with Kinsa, a smart thermometer company, to give away 15,000 thermometers. While thermometers aren’t traditionally considered school supplies and are, therefore, excluded from lists, they are essential for stopping the flu and other viruses from spreading throughout schools.
2. Take the time to fully understand education issues.
Regardless of your political preference, it’s important to understand both local and national education issues. Doing research on the issues facing your community is your civic duty, regardless of whether you are a parent or whether you work directly for a school district, because a poorly educated generation will eventually result in a poorly educated population.
Visit sites like Chalkbeat and Education Week to learn about region-specific concerns and local events. There are also local Facebook groups you can participate in to discuss education issues and learn about the schools in your area. If you want to educate yourself on national issues, try consulting larger organizations like the PTA.
It’s fitting that the key to a better education system is learning. Simply being knowledgeable about the issues can inspire progress and keep the education system at the top of our minds, both in local communities and on a larger scale.
3. Create free curriculum resources.
Teachers are often looking for resources to bring into their classrooms. Some companies and organizations dedicate an entire section of their websites to providing educational materials to teachers, like this one by NASA. If you’re in a position to do so, consider developing, sharing, or distributing free materials that could fill a gap at a local or national level.
For example, we know that teachers are often looking for financial literacy resources to help their students understand money skills. At MDR, we’ve worked with the charitable arms at financial corporations to develop free lessons that meet that need for teachers. Through partnerships like this, we can all come together to educate the next generation.
4. Lead by example.
The media’s coverage of education issues tends to be negative, sometimes even blaming teachers for issues they have little or no control over. But sharing your support of educators via social media, on your website, or in everyday conversations can counteract that negativity.
Of course, pairing action with verbal support is the best way to advocate for teachers, but don’t underestimate the powerful effect of words on their own. For example, you might post on social media about local teachers’ classroom projects or even mention your favorite classroom project to your friends at trivia night.
5. Volunteer at a school.
Perhaps the most valuable investment you can make is your time. Volunteering can not only provide much-needed help in our nation’s schools, but it can also help you understand some of the issues teachers face firsthand. Consider bringing your friends along, too, and empower people in your community to advocate for changes in our education system.
If you still need more convincing, take a look at this study from United Healthcare that reports the ways volunteering positively affects mental and physical health. Simply put, helping others also helps you. Confused about where to start? Check out organizations like Reading Partners that have a plethora of volunteer opportunities for anyone looking to get involved.
Most importantly, even though it’s highly politicized in today’s headlines, remember that education is essential to our nation at the most basic level. We are educating the people who will eventually run our country, our businesses, and our communities. We have to care. We have to help where we can. Otherwise, we’re setting ourselves up for even bigger problems in the future.
White Mass Shooters Receive Sympathetic Media Treatment
White mass shooters receive much more sympathetic treatment in the media than black shooters, according to a new study that analyzed coverage of 219 attacks.
Findings showed that white shooters were 95 percent more likely to be described as “mentally ill” than black shooters.
Even when black shooters were described as mentally ill, the coverage was not as forgiving as it was for whites responsible for similar kinds of attacks, said Scott Duxbury, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at The Ohio State University.
“There’s a big difference in how black and white mass shooters are covered in the media,” Duxbury said.
“Much of the media coverage of white shooters framed them as sympathetic characters who were suffering from extreme life circumstances. But black shooters were usually made to seem dangerous and a menace to society.”
For example, when shooters were framed in the media as mentally ill, 78 percent of white attackers were described as being victims of society – as being under a lot of stress, for example – versus only 17 percent of black shooters.
Duxbury conducted the research with Laura Frizzell and Sadé Lindsay, also sociology doctoral students at Ohio State. Their study appears online in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.
The researchers defined mass shootings as those in which four or more victims were shot in a single event, not including the perpetrator.
They used two news data sources to collect 433 media articles or transcripts about 219 randomly selected mass shootings in the United States from 2013 through 2015.
The researchers controlled for a variety of factors that could influence coverage, including the number of victims; whether any victims were women, children, family or romantic partners; whether the perpetrator committed suicide; whether the shooting took place in public; and whether the shooting was framed as gang violence.
After taking these factors into account, findings showed that whites were 95 percent more likely than blacks to be described in coverage as mentally ill. Latinos were 92 percent more likely than blacks to be described as mentally ill in media reports.
Shootings that were murder-suicides had significantly higher odds of being attributed to mental illness, as did those that occurred in public places.
But the number of victims, or whether the victims were women or children, were not related to whether the shooter was labeled as mentally ill.
The researchers identified several themes in articles that framed mass shooters as mentally ill. The most common theme – found in about 46 percent of the articles – was that the shooter was a “victim of society.” This included articles that said the shooter was “going through a lot,” was “stressed out” or “suffered abuse as a child.”
About 28 percent of articles that framed shooters as mentally ill offered testimony to the attacker’s good character, while another 21 percent said the shooting was unexpected or out of character. Another 14 percent said the shooter came from a good environment.
But these descriptions were almost always about white shooters, Duxbury said.
“Black shooters who were described as mentally ill never receive testament to their good character and the media never describe the shootings as out of character,” he said.
“And only white shooters were ever talked about as coming from a good environment.”
The researchers contrasted the coverage of two mass shooters – Josh Boren, a white man, and David Ray Conley, a black man.
“The comparison between Conley and Boren is striking. Both shooters were adult men who murdered their families. Both had a history of domestic violence and drug abuse and both had received treatment for mental illness. However, whereas the media described Josh Boren as a quiet, gentle man – a teddy bear – coverage of Conley described him as perpetually violent, controlling and dangerous,” the researchers said.
The researchers also analyzed shootings that were described as gang affiliated, because these attacks almost always involved minority shooters. Here the most consistent themes in coverage involved the criminal history of the perpetrators, their status as a public menace and the problems of the community.
These results provide a marked contrast with coverage of other mass shootings, Duxbury said.
“When the media frame a mass shooting as stemming from gang violence, they talk about the perpetrators as being perpetually violent and a menace to society,” he said.
“But when a shooting is attributed to mental illness, the media treat it as an isolated incident, or the result of the pressures on the perpetrator.”
Paying Parents to Read to Their Children Boosts Literacy Skills
Researchers have found a surprising way to help boost the skills of children with language impairment: Pay their parents to read to them.
A new study tested four techniques to get parents or other caregivers to complete a 15-week literacy intervention for their children with language impairment.
Only one of those techniques – paying parents 50 cents for each reading session – led to children showing significant gains in reading test scores, findings showed.
“We were somewhat stunned to find that paying parents had this strong effect. We didn’t anticipate this,” said Laura Justice, lead author of the study and professor of educational psychology at The Ohio State University.
The other three techniques tried in the study were offering positive feedback to the parents, offering encouragement, and modeling to parents how to read in a way that improved children’s literacy skills.
None of these three was helpful, and offering feedback actually had a slight negative effect on children’s test scores, said Justice, who is executive director of The Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy at Ohio State.
Justice conducted the study with Jing Chen, graduate student; Sherine Tambyraja, senior research associate; and Jessica Logan, assistant professor, all at the Crane Center. Their results appear online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
The study involved 128 parents or caregivers and their children. All children were 4 or 5 years old and had been diagnosed with language impairment. Most of the caregivers lived in low-income households.
All caregivers used the Sit Together and Read (STAR) intervention with their children. STAR was developed by Justice and a colleague in 2013 and has been thoroughly evaluated and found to be helpful, particularly when used by teachers.
The program involves reading to children with the goal of improving print knowledge, which includes knowing the features and names of the letters of the alphabet and print conventions such as reading left to right.
While STAR has been shown to be effective, the problem is getting parents to read often enough with their children to make the program successful, Justice said.
“We have found that 25 to 50 percent of parents don’t adhere to the program enough for it to really work, and many of them are poorer and have less education,” she said.
Participants in the study were instructed to read one book a week to their children, four separate times, for a total of 60 readings over 15 weeks. Caregivers received specific instructions about how to read the books, which were provided to them, to follow the STAR program.
All caregivers audio-recorded each book reading session and kept a written log detailing their readings.
Most of the participants received one or more of the four behavior-change techniques – monetary rewards, supportive feedback, encouragement or modeling – to help boost their compliance with the program.
Research staff met with caregivers about six times during the 15 weeks during which time they used the applicable behavior change techniques.
Each child was assessed twice, before and after the STAR intervention, to assess their print knowledge.
Results showed that children whose parents or caregivers were paid to read to them showed significant improvements in their print knowledge after the STAR intervention. None of the other techniques had a positive effect.
A further analysis showed that the monetary rewards worked mostly because caregivers who received them completed more reading sessions with their children than did caregivers who received other behavior-change techniques.
A secondary boost came from the fact that caregivers who received the monetary reward also talked more to their kids than other caregivers about the print features of the books as they were reading them – a key part of the STAR program.
A study like this can identify the barriers that are keeping parents from completing the STAR intervention, Justice said.
“Our results showed that we identified the right barrier,” she said. “The barrier that money overcomes in these families is time pressure.”
Many of the parents who don’t complete the intervention are poorer and less educated, she said. Even the small payment used in this study – the average caregiver received $31.50 over the 15 weeks – was enough to persuade parents that the time spent on reading was worth it.
Justice said she knows that many teachers and others don’t like the idea of paying caregivers to read to their children.
But she emphasizes that the payments in this study were “a very modest investment” that paid big dividends with the children.
“Maybe it could be a different kind of incentive, something as simple as a certificate for parents who complete the intervention. Or the payments could be smaller. There’s more research that needs to be done,” Justice said.
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
Red-light Cameras Don’t Reduce Traffic Accidents or Improve Public Safety: Analysis
Red-light cameras don’t reduce the number of traffic accidents or injuries at intersections where the devices are installed, according to a new analysis by Case Western Reserve University.
Touted by supporters as a way increase public safety by ticketing drivers who continue through red lights, the cameras actually shift traffic patterns: More drivers tend to brake harder and more abruptly, increasing fender-benders and other so-called “non-angle” collisions.
“Once drivers knew about the cameras, they appeared to accept a higher accident risk from slamming on their brakes at yellow lights to avoid an expensive traffic citation—thereby decreasing safety for themselves and other drivers,” said Justin Gallagher, an assistant professor of economics at Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve.
Gallagher is co-author of a paper posted to Social Science Research Network, commonly known as SSRN, based on an analysis of thousands of collisions over a 12-year span reported by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Researchers focused on data while red-light cameras were operating and again after they were removed (by voter referendum) in Houston—and drew on similar data from Dallas, which still has its red-light camera program.
In Houston, the installation of the cameras led to 18 percent more non-angle accidents, with an estimated 28 percent jump in these collisions in a combined Houston-Dallas data sample, researchers found.
While removing the cameras in Houston caused 26 percent more “angle” accidents—such as T-bone collisions, considered among the most dangerous—it’s likely the cameras actually led to more accidents overall, since there are more non-angle accidents, researchers concluded.
“There is no reason to believe that there is a reduction in overall accidents thanks to red-light cameras,” Gallagher said. “Our analysis does not support the case that the cameras improve public safety, which is one of the main justifications used by public officials and law enforcement.”
More than 400 communities in the United States—including 36 of the largest 50 cities—have installed the devices, usually placed at busy intersections with a history of accidents. Yet some communities have removed the cameras, including Cleveland, where Case Western Reserve is located, and Houston.
The process of using the cameras to issue traffic citations—mailed to a vehicle’s registered owner—has largely withstood legal challenges. But their use has also been heavily scrutinized as mere revenue generators, with most programs administered by out-of-state, for-profit contractors. Tens of millions of dollars were collected from drivers in Houston and Dallas during the years analyzed for the paper.
“There is clear evidence that installing a camera reduces the number of vehicles running a red light,” Gallagher said, “but the predicted relationship between the number of vehicles running red lights and the total number of accidents is ambiguous—and certainly not compelling enough to justify some claims of proponents of these devices.”
Data on the types of injuries incurring in these traffic accidents (fatalities, incapacitating and non-incapacitating, and more minor) failed to provide a case the cameras increased the safety of intersections where they’re installed, Gallagher said.
In 2015, more than 35,000 people died and 2.4 million were injured in traffic accidents nationally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
While the U.S. Department of Transportation recommends a set yellow-light caution length of 3 to 6 seconds, there is no uniformity among intersections.
The study’s co-author was Paul Fisher, a graduate student in economics at the University of Arizona and a 2017 Case Western Reserve graduate.
Connect With SWHELPER
Why Efforts to Hire and Maintain the Best Staff Can Be Critical for Nonprofits
While a well-seasoned and dedicated staff can be a terrific resource for any business, hiring the right professional to fill...
Three Mobile Marketing Strategies to Raise Awareness
Today, mobile marketing is one of the most powerful forms of digital marketing. Social media, email and video marketing are...
Top Apps and Tools Recommended for Every Entrepreneur
Running a small business takes a lot of work. Today there’s technology that will help you with this. This technology...
Booking.com and Web Summit Expand Commitment to Women in Tech
Amsterdam, The Netherlands – 25 APRIL 2018 – Booking.com, one of the world’s largest travel e-commerce companies and a digital...
iCloud Backup on iPhone and iPad – Discussing The Process and Its Many Advantages
Your iPhone and iPad might have cost you a fortune. In a manner, these are almost like prized possessions. However,...