Social Work in the Public Eye (June 2009)

Rhonda GermanyRhonda Germany was quoted in Ozarks First in Springfield, Mo., in a story about whether social-networking Web sites are good for relationships.

The story noted how many people have used Facebook to discover and make new contact with former lovers - and in some cases rekindle the relationship. For those already in a relationship, however, such scenarios can carry a hefty price, the story said.

Germany, a licensed clinical social worker, was quoted as saying, "It's a problem. And I'm running into it all the time in marriage counseling."

She said many couples are now citing social networking sites as a problem in their own relationship. A big reason: spouses are online talking to old flames.

"What constitutes an affair? Is it an emotional affair? Is it OK to have friends of the opposite sex? Will it remain, just a friendship?" Germany asked.

Germany's observations are backed up by a researcher at California State University, who studies lost-love reunions, the story stated. Psychology professor Nancy Kalish said married people in their early 30s are at greatest risk of having an affair, because it's so much easier today to find someone from one's past, thanks to technology.

Germany said one way to protect yourself in any online situation is to simply know your boundaries.

"I think there has to be some real solid trust in the marriage," she said. "I think people have to be upfront about what they're doing and why they're doing it, otherwise, it creates conflict."


Carolyn PolowyNASW General Counsel Carolyn Polowy was quoted in USA Today in a story that highlighted the U.S. Supreme Court case involving the strip search of a 13-year-old girl at her middle school. NASW and its Arizona Chapter filed an amicus brief in the case (May 2009 News).

Drug searches, along with drug tests for students in athletics and other extracurricular activities, have become common in schools across the nation, the story stated. But the search of Savana Redding at Safford Middle School on Oct. 8, 2003, ignited a legal dispute that has landed before the U.S. Supreme Court, and could transform the landscape of drug searches in public schools, the story explained.

At the time, school officials received an uncorroborated tip from another student that Redding may have an unauthorized ibuprofen in her possession. Redding's mother was not notified and no pills were found on the girl. The girl's mother filed a lawsuit against the school in federal court based on a violation of her daughter's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable government searches and seizures.

The story pointed out that NASW along with the National Education Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, sided with the girl's mother in filing a lawsuit. "Social science research demonstrates that strip searches can traumatize children and adolescents and result in serious emotional damage," the story stated, citing studies in educational and legal journals.

Polowy, was quoted saying adolescents - typically shy and awkward about how they look - are particularly sensitive to being forced to expose their bodies.

"We're sympathetic with the schools, but a strip search is sort of the capital punishment of searches," Polowy said in the article.


James Dumpson (no photo), an NASW Pioneerw, was honored in the Congressional Record for his achievements and public service and for turning 100 years old in April. U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) recognized Dumpson for becoming the only African-American Commissioner of Welfare in the country in 1959. Rangel said Dumpson is a hero to the Civil Rights movements and in the achievement of racial equality. "He is a gentle man of forceful voice and conviction, agitating on behalf of children, the elderly and the impoverished in New York for 60 years, his country for 80 years - and we are all the better for it," Rangel said.

He noted Dumpson's activism affected the fields of health, education, social justice, and academia. "He is a familiar, popular, and pioneering leader in New York and in the African American community, an icon who worked tirelessly on behalf of others."


Carol StambaughNASW Arizona Chapter Executive Director Carol Stambaugh was interviewed by several local media after a new report surfaced that noted food stamp use was making a dramatic increase in the state.

The Public News Service in Phoenix said in a story that only four states are enrolling food stamp recipients at a faster rate than Arizona. The state's enrollment is up nearly 26 percent from a year earlier and although more Arizonans are seeking help, the enrollment statistic is considered a good one, according to social workers, the story said.

The story quoted Stambaugh saying the increase means people in need are getting proper nutrition.

"Food stamps provide one of the most elemental needs for people," she was quoted as saying. "It affects every area of our lives; education, job performance, and health. It even affects the relationships you may have with your family. Thank goodness we have that safety net to fall back on."

Stambaugh pointed to a common misconception: food stamps recipients are unwilling to work. These days, many people are jobless for the first time in their lives, she said in the article.

"Whenever they lose a job or get a pay cut or they lose their hours, those paychecks no longer allow them to meet their needs," she said. "This is something that has been able to help during this incredibly difficult economic time."

Food stamp benefits were boosted that particular week the story said. It noted that as a result of the federal stimulus package, a family of four will receive an extra $80 per month. The increase might give recipients access to better quality foods by freeing up money for transportation, Stambaugh pointed out.


Kathy Reynolds (no photo), CEO of Washtenaw Community Health Organization, in Ypsilanti, Mich., was a co-winner of the Lifetime Achievement category of the 2009 National Council Awards of Excellence during the 39th Annual Conference of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare in San Antonio, Texas.

The Awards of Excellence honors those who have significantly shaped the mental health and addictions industry and improved the lives of those in need of treatment and support. "Each year the National Council honors individuals and organizations that are the best of the best," said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council.

"These are the programs and the people who are ahead of the trends: those who are pioneering new service delivery models, those who are advancing original collaborations, and those who demonstrate positive outcomes for individuals and families," she said.