Tag Archives: social work

Battling the Myths of Foster Care

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There’s an ongoing battle to tear down the myths about foster care. In a recent NPR interview, one foster parent discussed the negative impressions that the public is often given related to foster care—and how it’s a barrier to the great work that can be accomplished: “I think all too often the focus is on the negative and not on the good things that happen, the kids that were reunited with their family or the adoption.”

To hFoster-Care-IG-for-Publish-Smallelp counteract negative perspectives and continue to educate Master of Social work students and social service professionals, SocialWork@Simmons created “The Facts of Foster Care.” This infographic provides the latest objective and authoritative data published by collecting bureaus related to foster children and foster families—as well as data that will help to dispel myths about foster care. The goal is to achieve better support for those who need it most—especially the children and those who are caring for them. Continue reading

Is Zurich’s New Drive-In Prostitution a Good Idea?

Even putting aside the moral and ethical arguments against prostitution, there are some sound concerns expressed over the practice. For one, we must take health and safety into consideration any time people will be coming into close contact with one another. And as a still largely underground industry (unlike the medical field, where bodies also come into close contact) there is very little precedent for regulation in prostitution.

What if governments decided to stop prosecuting prostitution and instead establish measures to ensure safety and fair-play? That is exactly what Switzerland, the small, beautiful, chocolate-rich country, has been doing since 1942 when it legalized prostitution. And now, in an effort to enforce safety regulations, the Swiss city of Zurich has instituted what are colloquially being called “sex boxes.” This is essentially a drive-in brothel where cars can enter a small park with sex workers lined up all around, and clients and prostitutes can negotiate with one another to determine an agreement. Once paired, they’ll enter small wooden garages to…conduct their business.

Though there won’t be surveillance, prostitutes will need permits in order to use the facilities and will have access to panic buttons and on-site social workers in case of emergency. There are also policies in place in the country to enforce health checks and screenings in order to reduce the risk of HIV and AIDs. And the “sex box” sites also offer showers, lockers, laundry, and other facilities. As reported by the National Post:

“We built the place to be secure for the sex workers. It also had to be discreet for the sex workers and the clientele,” said Michael Herzig of Zurich’s social welfare department. “But we thought if we build the place, we can also make it look good.”

Here’s a look at the facilities:

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SWITZERLAND-PROSTITUTION-BUSINESS

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You might be surprised to learn that Switzerland isn’t alone in such policies. Eight European countries currently have legal and regulated prostitution, and countless others in Europe and around the globe have legalized but unregulated prostitution. Here’s a map outlining prostitution in Europe:

680px-Prostitution_in_europe_corrected_2.svg

 Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 9.58.49 AM

 

 

 

 

What do you think of Zurich’s “sex boxes”? Can you imagine a U.S. city instituting something along those lines? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Photo credit: AP Photo / John Heilprin

Photo credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

Map credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Why Vulnerability Will Help You Access the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of

We get it. Vulnerability is probably the last thing you want to be feeling when you go in for that interview, or start writing that novel, or hold your baby for the first time. Most likely you want to feel strong, competent, and powerful. Every word must be direct, every action swift, every feeling resolute. But guess what? Those hard edges may be keeping you from experiencing the fullness of a life worthy of such strength and potency. Case in point: What’s the first rule of love? Open, soften, let love in.

One of the most poignant TED Talks out there – which you may have already seen because it’s just that darn good – is one by social work professor Brené Brown. In her research, Brown focuses on the relationships among authenticity, courage, empathy, and, you guessed it, vulnerability. These ‘virtues’, you might call them, come together in the following simple but intimidating formula:

accept imperfection + welcome vulnerability = banish shame and live authentically

Do you agree with Brown’s thesis? Are you ready to be vulnerable? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Life After Foster Care: Yoga, College and the Path Forward

As of 2011, roughly 423,000 children in the United States were living in foster care homes. Today the numbers are much the same. Nearly 20% enter foster care due to physical abuse; 65% leave without a place to live; and less than 3% end up going to college.

Anthony, from the latest episode of URBAN YOGIS on The Chopra Well, is an exception to the trend. He grew up in and out of foster care, back and forth between his mother and various temporary homes. As he explains in the episode, his mother never fed him or provided him with basic life needs, let alone the more intangible necessities of love, comfort, and security. He was never with her long before being sent to another foster home, making for a fairly unstable childhood.

With the help of his final foster family, as well his own drive and will to survive, Anthony emerged from his youth with a clear vision for the future. He’s proud of the life he has created for himself — living independently in a supportive housing unit, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science, and aspiring to get a Ph.D. in Mathematics. Anthony didn’t just survive his childhood; and he isn’t just “getting by” now. He has discovered his passion and ambition. He has embarked on a difficult and rewarding path, made all the more remarkable by his challenging childhood. Through his weekly yoga practice, Anthony further refines this path by learning to pay attention to his moods, focus his mind, and discover strength in every subtle movement and breath.

How does a young person emerge from such a difficult childhood and thrive in adulthood? What facilitates this resilience and ambition? It could be that some experience along the way provided just enough of a glimmer of hope – a supportive social worker, a beautiful song, a loving foster family, an inspiring lesson from history. In Anthony’s case, a large part of his success comes from the opportunity to live alone and get acquainted with his own strength and competence. Yoga has played a large role, as well. As his instructor, Eddie Stern, says, yoga allows us to slow down and focus on our movement and breath. Through this, we come to see that we are individuals with minds and bodies and souls of our own. We aren’t just witnesses of a world going on around us, but rather conscious agents of our own life story. Past, present and future aside, Anthony is his own man. And there is great pride in that.

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