Social Work in the Public Eye (March 2011)

Dana StrohmDana Strohm was quoted in the Royal Purple News, the student newspaper of the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.

Strohm teaches a new class that aims to promote awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning individuals, the story reported. He said the course will help broaden the understanding of diversity in sexuality.

“The course objectives are to gain insight into the development of LGBTQ culture and communities from both a historical and scientific perspective,” Strohm told the newspaper. “And also, it is to understand the diversity of human affect and sexual identity.”

Strohm said the course focuses on the lifespan of individuals and how they deal with trials that most LGBTQ individuals face.

“[There is] a diversity component to the class as well,” Strohm said in the article. “It helps identify homophobia and heterosexism, and recognizes the importance of each of those concepts and then the differences and how to help stop oppression.”

He told the newspaper that he got the idea for the class after guest lecturing in different courses.

“Basically, it kind of developed from there,” Strohm said. “I felt there was a need for understanding the psychological, emotional and social development of LGBTQ individuals and families.”

Strohm said it took perseverance to get the course added at the school. Initially, university officials did not believe the class would garner enough interest.

“I have been anxiously waiting for this class to go through because it wasn’t received well in the beginning,” Strohm told the newspaper. “[The university] did not think enough people would sign up for it in the beginning, and now the class is capped full. I’m excited that this will be the first class of its kind at UW-Whitewater.”

Strohm said more needs to be done to broaden the understanding of what LGBTQ individuals deal with on a regular basis.

“I hope that students recognize that this has been a struggle for equal rights for a very long time, and that maybe they will be able to help someone in need of a friend or might have a good resource to provide to someone who is struggling with their sexuality,” Strohm said.

KGUN9-TV in Tucson ran a story about the possible emotional trauma some might experience as a result of the Transportation Security Agency’s new security procedures for airline passengers, which may include pat-downs.

Robert KafesRobert Kafes, a clinical social worker in Tucson, told the TV station that some might find the process traumatizing, especially those who have been victims of sexual abuse.

New airport security regulations require some travelers to step inside a full-body scanning machine, which transmits a nearly nude image of the traveler to a TSA screener in another room. Other passengers could be required to submit to a physical pat-down.

“We all have our sensitivities and vulnerabilities, but this could be experienced by certain people as a violation of personal space,” Kafes was quoted as saying.

He said many patients could be traumatized by the TSA’s intrusive search. Some victims might even experience flashbacks from an attack, the TV station pointed out.

“Anxiety, fear, panic-attacks, any number of things, and also it might be very difficult for [victims] to express it,” Kafes said.

He said that even if a TSA examiner is not intending to cause harm, some people may feel the process is similar to an assault.

“That really is important because it bears upon not only a person’s psychology but persons’ rights,” Kafe said in the segment.

The TV station reported that one Tucson family changed its holiday travel plans in reaction to the TSA security changes.

Yvonne TallentYvonne Tallent was quoted in the Houston Community Newspapers in an article about how child abuse is growing in the area.

A licensed clinical social worker in private practice, Tallent said some of the acts of maltreatment are visually evident, while others only leave behind emotional scars.

“Every cognitive memory has an emotional memory attached, which means it has a feeling,” Tallent told the publication. “These traumas are buried very deeply and they’ll come up at different times in their lives.”

She added, “Some children dissociate, some are aggressive and some are frightened. They may be overly friendly with strangers or they may not want to get close at all. There’s a whole list of different types of symptoms.”

The story noted that in Harris County, Texas, between March 2009 and February 2010, more than 4,500 children received services from the Children’s Assessment Center, a Houston-based organization that specializes in the treatment of sexual abuse.

According to Childhelp, a nonprofit organization that aims to help victims of child abuse and neglect, once every 10 seconds an incident of child abuse is relayed to the authorities. The story said the number of cases may be even higher because some people suspect abuse is occurring but do not voice their concerns to the authorities. One health official noted in the story that Texas laws protect people who report suspected abuse, but many kids are not forthcoming about what they are experiencing.

Some live in silence for reasons that could range from embarrassment to fear, the article stated.

“They’ve been told a lot of things that aren’t true and they’re frightened,” Tallent said in the article. “There is some feeling of guilt at times because usually the abuser tries to make them feel responsible.”