Tag Archives: Human Rights and Social Justice

“No Duty More Important”: Why We Must Treat Children’s Rights as Fundamental Human Rights

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By Julia Mancini (Intern, APA Office on Children, Youth and Families)

“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they can grow up in peace.” — Kofi Annan

 

Where exactly do human rights begin? Sunday, December 10th, 2017 is International Human Rights Day. #HumanRightsDay is celebrated in conjunction with the anniversary of the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will reach its 70th anniversary this coming year. The Declaration seeks to uplift individuals from all walks of life across the world and protect our kinship and dignity as human beings. However, how far does this kinship and dignity extend?

 

We cannot protect the rights of all people if we do not respect the rights of the youngest and most vulnerable. In November of 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It acknowledges young people as change agents of society and holders of rights1.

 

Some might consider children bystanders in their own lives, directed always by the decisions caregivers and governments make for them. In considering children active agents of society, we respect their dignity and give them a voice to speak on the difficult situations they face so that we might better support them.

 

Adults often have legal, developmental, social, and monetary advantage over children. It is not mistaken that adults support children in ways they are not able to do for themselves. The goal is not to take away caregivers’ rights but to instead retain the balance between the rights of children and the rights of families3.

 

What exactly do those rights include? According to the UN, all children have a right to:

  • a safe physical environment,
  • security,
  • food,
  • shelter,
  • freedom of expression,
  • freedom of association,
  • self-determination,
  • knowledge, and
  • work.

 

On International Human Rights Day, let’s remember that children’s rights are human rights. If we assume the capacity of a child, we often underestimate the contribution they offer to our society and submit their autonomy to a third party or adult with more power. It is important to balance this agency with protection from harm for those who cannot protect themselves2. This pertains especially to the most vulnerable children throughout the world – the ones who often face the most adversity and discrimination, namely disabled, displaced, impoverished, and minority children. It is important that when we speak of the rights of marginalized groups throughout the world, we also give a voice to children within these groups who might be forgotten or exploited.

 

The American Psychological Association has endorsed the principles and spirit of the CRC and thus recognized the importance of the rights of children. This issue is important because, as a society, if we were more aware of what children are entitled to as citizens of the world, there would be opportunity for social justice changes that could have an inter-generational and global impact.

 

It is, of course, essential that adults take a primary role in ensuring their children’s well-being, but it is our international responsibility to ensure that governments and caregivers are doing this in a way that fits the child’s best interests. If we understand and advocate for children’s rights in the present, there will be a better future for not only these individuals, but on an international level as well.

 

Join the conversation on social media:

  • Celebrate children’s rights and International Human Rights Day by telling the world that “children’s right are human rights” on your social media. Use the hashtags #HumanRightsDay and #childdevelopment.
  • Take part in our December 12 Twitter chat on the vital role scientists can play in promoting human rights. It will take place at 2 PM (ET) in partnership with the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Human Rights Coalition.

 

References:

1Ruck, M. D., Keating, D. P., Saewyc, E. M., Earls, F. & Ben-Arieh, A. (2014). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Its relevance for adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 26(1) 16-29. doi:10.1111/jora.12172

2Smith, A. B. (2016). Achieving social justice for children : How can children’s rights thinking make a difference? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 86(5), 500-507. doi:10.1037/ort0000191

3Huus, K., Dada, S., Bornman, J., Lynegard, F. (2016). The awareness of primary caregivers in South Africa of the human rights of their children with intellectual disabilities. Childcare, Health, and Development, 42(6) 863-870. doi:10.1111/cch.12358

 

Biography:

Julia Mancini is currently a junior Psychology and Criminal Justice double major at George Washington University. Julia has a particular interest in children and families and is excited to be interning with the Children, Youth and Families office this fall. Julia has been involved with behavioral genetic research through The Boston University Twin Project. She also worked as a Clinical Research Intern at Safe Shores, DC’s Children’s Advocacy Center, investigating disparities in PTSD presentations among minority youth. This past summer Julia interned for the Child Protection Unit in the District Attorney’s office in her home state of Massachusetts. She also had the opportunity to work internationally with a non-profit in Cochabamba, Bolivia that provides psychological, legal, and social services to child survivors of sexual violence.

Image source: Photo by Michael Mims on Unsplash


Filed under: Children and Youth, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: children's rights, human rights, International Human Rights Day, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

What Does Our Past Tell Us About Our Future? The Essential Role of Psychologists in Fighting HIV

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(L-R) Dr. Rich Wolitski (HHS/OHAIDP); Dr. Fayth Parks (Georgia Southern University) APA Ad Hoc Committee on Psychology & AIDS (COPA) chair and symposium co-chair; Dr. Sherry Wang (Santa Clara University) COPA symposium co-chair; Ms. Cherie Mitchell (APA); Dr. Karen Ingersoll (University of Virginia); Dr. Richard Jenkins (NIH/NIDA); and Dr. Ramani Durvasula (California State University, Los Angeles)

This article is cross-posted from the HIV.gov blog with their permission.

 

By Richard Wolitski, PhD (Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

 

Since the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, psychologists have been essential in the response to HIV:

  • They offered mental health support for people living with, or at risk for, HIV—as well as for their families and communities, and those who provide HIV medical care and social services.
  • Psychologists developed programs to educate people about HIV and motivate behavior change to reduce risk.
  • They counseled and supported those who were diagnosed, and also played important roles in working to eliminate the stigma that attaches to HIV/AIDS, sexual minority status, gender identity, substance use, and other characteristics associated with HIV infection.
  • They conducted research that gave us an understanding of cognitive, behavioral, and social determinants of health that create health disparities.

 

They continue to do all of these things, and they play a vital role as the response to HIV/AIDS continues to evolve.

This year, the professional organization for psychologists, the American Psychological Association (APA), celebrated its 125th anniversary. The APA has been deeply involved in the response to HIV/AIDS in the United States:

  • From 1996-2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded APA’s Behavioral and Social Science Volunteer (BSSV) Program. The program established a national network of more than 300 psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, and public health experts who provided capacity-building technical assistance to improve the delivery and effectiveness of HIV prevention services to more than 700 organizations.
  • And from 1991-2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funded APA’s HIV Office for Psychology Education (HOPE) Program, which trained more than 36,500 psychologists and allied mental health providers about HIV, substance use, and mental health.

 

Today, the organization continues its mission to address the ongoing toll of HIV on the mental and physical health of people living with HIV. You can view information about activities, events, and resources on the APA’s HIV webpage.

 

Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Jr. , PhD, APA’s Chief Executive Officer, expressed his support for APA’s role in this work. He shared with me that he sees psychology’s role in this way:  

Psychology plays a critical role in HIV prevention and treatment by promoting behaviors aimed at helping to improve overall health, mental health and well-being and providing a better understanding of social and cultural factors, such as stigma and culturally appropriate counseling and treatment interventions. We know that access to quality behavioral health services facilitate better outcomes across the HIV care continuum, including viral suppression.

Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD

 

Given the organization’s commitment and long track record of service to the HIV community, I was honored when APA asked me to be a discussant as part of the 125th Anniversary Talk, Past, Present and Future of HIV/AIDS Science and Practice in Psychology. Under the skillful direction of co-chairs Dr. Fayth Parks and Dr. Sherry Wang, the panelists addressed a number of important topics:

  • Eugene Farber, PhD, ABPP, Emory University School of Medicine, The Future of Psychology as a Health Service Discipline: Clinical Lessons from the HIV Epidemic
  • Ramani Durvasula, PhD, California State University, Los Angeles: A History of HIV/AIDS in Women: Shifting Narrative and a Structural Call to Arms
  • Karen Ingersoll, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the Center for Behavioral Health & Technology, University of Virginia: Internet Intervention for HIV+ Substance Users to Improve ART Adherence and Addictive Behaviors
  • Richard Jenkins, PhD, Health Scientist Administrator, Prevention Research Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse: Roles for Psychologists in a World of Changing Epidemics and Policies

Each of the presentations drew attention to the ways that psychologists have contributed to the fight against HIV. A key point made by all the participants is that behavioral approaches to HIV prevention, care, and treatment optimize biomedical approaches—and that the two are inextricably linked.

Dr. Eugene Barber speaking
Dr. Eugene Farber, Emory University

Dr. Gene Farber set the frame for the session by reflecting on the essential role of behavioral health service providers in supporting a humanistic, culturally responsive, and patient-centered care experience for people living with HIV. He stressed that behavioral health services must encompass not only assessment and treatment of behavioral disorders but also interventions to prevent the onset of other health conditions and to optimize biopsychosocial well-being. He also noted that psychologists can make substantial contributions to patient care and evaluation in medical settings.

Dr. Karen Ingersoll took his points a step further to show how psychologists can help individuals even when in-person contact is impossible. She is working on finding better ways to support substance users who are living with HIV—particularly those in rural areas, where HIV and other types of care are not always available and may require time away from work. These individuals are at significantly higher risk for nonadherence to their HIV medications and disengaging from care—so Dr. Ingersoll and her colleagues have developed an interactive online video intervention  that features peer role models offering advice and support to viewers. (Much like our own Positive Spin series, which takes a similar approach to supporting people living with HIV to achieve viral suppression.) This behavioral intervention is currently being tested to see if it can support substance users to take full advantage of biomedical treatment for their HIV disease.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula spoke about the need for holistic approaches to psychological care for women living with HIV. Her presentation focused on “the story of HIV in women,” which includes the multiple challenges women have faced in attempting to:

  • Get information on HIV risk;
  • Obtain an HIV diagnosis, care and treatment; and
  • Participate in HIV clinical trials.

For many women, neither biomedical or behavioral interventions were available.

Dr. Durvasula then discussed the current need for psychologists to be aware of the multiple psychosocial stressors women with HIV face (e.g., economic and caregiving burdens, relational issues, stigma, intersectional discrimination) and how they affect women’s physical health. She also emphasized the need to focus on women’s resiliencies, strengths, and growth rather than just their HIV disease. She ended with the observation that, for the future, psychology training programs should be looking at social justice and advocacy training as key to producing psychologists with the skill sets necessary for the future.

Finally, Dr. Richard Jenkins took the audience through a history of the role of psychologists in the U.S. epidemic, including a look at the ways in which the advent of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and other biomedical approaches have pushed many behavioral interventions to the margins. However, he noted that many of issues that affected people living with HIV in the early days of the epidemic persist and have not been eliminated by effective biomedical treatment, including stigma, access to care, and racial/ethnic disparities. He ended his presentation with a series of questions about how to connect psychologists to opportunities in HIV work, and raise the value of psychology for workforce development related to HIV.

As I listened to these passionate, committed professionals, I thought about the long history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. I thought about how our early efforts, which were based on the best information we had at the time, created systems and approaches that have sometimes hampered our efforts to respond to the realities of today’s epidemic.

For example, when the first HIV test became available, we created a standalone system for HIV testing that was supported with siloed funding (meaning the funds could only be used for HIV testing—not any follow-up care or treatment). This was necessary because of the large number of people who needed to be tested and the fact that many people were unwilling to be tested by their usual healthcare providers. They didn’t want their providers to know they were at risk for infection or did not want information about their risk and their HIV test results to be recorded.

So, we set up stand-alone systems for anonymous testing—meaning your name was never attached to your HIV test. You were given a number that matched the one on the vial of blood the worker at the testing site took from you, and you had to have that number to get your results. This approach was intended to alleviate the stigma of testing—but it also meant that we were not able to set up linkages to care and treatment for newly diagnosed people.

The lack of connection with health care was further reinforced—first, by the absence of effective treatment, and, then, for almost three decades, by guidelines indicating that ART was not needed until later in the course of the infection, when damage to the immune system became clear. This history—and the fact that funding streams were established for HIV testing separately from health care—have required substantial changes to facilitate immediate linkage to care, and establishing late in the epidemic coordinated prevention, care, and treatment plans.

Another way that our past response affects our future is in the way that surveillance systems were established. Initially we were focused on AIDS. We did not know what caused it, and we focused on documenting the cases when and where they were identified and when and where the person died. We did not need to gather data to support engagement in HIV care over a lifetime. We were focused on keeping people alive for the next year (or month) and preventing new cases. This changed as we learned what caused HIV, its effects on the body and how to treat it effectively. As changes occurred, we had to start playing catch-up on the surveillance front, and we continue to wrestle with how to collect data in ways that will help us end the epidemic.

We know now that being diagnosed and beginning HIV treatment as soon as possible are essential to the health of people living with HIV. We also know that good physical health and good mental health are closely connected, and that people who feel a sense of well-being are also more likely to feel motivated to care for their bodies. That’s particularly important for people living with HIV.

Our goal is to support every person to engage in care, remain on treatment, and achieve viral suppression—and that goal can only be reached if people feel empowered to take charge of their healthcare. That is where the contributions of my colleagues at APA come in.

Even though biomedical tools are clearly the way we will ultimately win this battle against the HIV epidemic, they will not work if people do not engage in the behaviors that are needed to use them effectively. Psychologists have the training and the skills to help them do just that.


Filed under: AIDS, Health Disparities, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: aids, AIDS research, behavioral health, discrimination, HIV, hiv prevention, HIV treatment, mental health, stigma

How to Listen When Someone You Know Discloses Sexual Harassment or Assault

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This post is based on a longer article by Dr. Jennifer J. Freyd (Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon)

 

Every day now in the news, we learn of various actions taken by those facing allegations of sexual assault and harassment. One set of actions has to do with their reported sexual harassment and/or assaults. Another set of actions has to do with how they respond when accused. Both types of action are crucially important. A good response can at least do some good (sincere apologies can be healing). But a bad response not only exacerbates the harm of the first injury, it also inflicts new injury, and does so in ways that are usually public and ongoing (well past the media moving on).

 

It is very important to be a good listener when a friend or loved one discloses a difficult or upsetting experience like sexual assault or harassment. We know that respectful, compassionate, attentive, and authentic listening can be healing, while a controlling, blaming, and/or invalidating response can cause harm.

 

1. Do Not “DARVO” and Call It Out When You See It

DARVO stands for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.The perpetrator or offender may:

  • Deny the behavior,
  • Attack the individual doing the confronting, and
  • Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender.

DARVO is a particularly pernicious response to disclosure and can cause harm. For more on DARVO see this page.

 

2. Be a Well-Intentioned and Respectful Listener

Many people want to respond well to a disclosure but may not know how. Here are some guidelines to help people and institutions respond well to disclosures of violence and distressing events. These suggestions are drawn from research findings¹

  • Respect the survivor’s autonomy and² strengths
  • Validate the survivor and indicate that the responsibility for the violence is with the perpetrator(s)
  • Stay engaged and focused on the survivor’s needs and validate the survivor’s strengths
  • When it is possible and appropriate, sincerely apologize
  • Do not invalidate, blame or pathologize the survivor
  • Do not take away the survivor’s autonomy 

 

3. Be a Compassionate Listener²

These suggestions are drawn from instructions that address listening skills in the moment.

 

First, it is important to use attentive body language. 

 

  • Do not make inappropriate facial expressions (e.g., smiling when someone is discussing a sad topic, rolling your eyes, raising your eyebrows when hearing how someone coped) and do not move your body too much (e.g., excessive fidgeting, playing with your cell phone).

 

  • Do sit in a posture (e.g., leaning forward or upright) and use gestures that convey engagement (e.g., nodding).

 

  • Do maintain consistent, not constant or darting, eye contact (look directly at the person for brief periods of 3-6 seconds, then look away briefly before reconnecting).

 

Second, it is important to use verbal skills that encourage the speaker to continue.

 

  • Do not change the topic or ask questions that are off-topic. This may seem like a way to decrease your anxiety or make the other person more comfortable, but it often has the opposite effect.

 

  • Do allow silence and convey that you are listening by using encouraging words like “hmmm” and “uh-huh” periodically.

 

  • Do state/name/reflect back the emotion being described.  It might also help you to imagine yourself in the speaker’s place and look at the situation from his/her perspective.

Examples:

“Wow – sounds like it was scary for you.” 

“It seems like you feel really sad about that.”

“I feel like that must’ve made you angry.”

 

  • Do ask questions if you are confused, and try to ask questions that require more than one word.

Instead of:

“Was that scary?” 

“Do you mean it wasn’t that bad?”

 

Ask questions like:

“Could you tell me a little bit more about that?” 

“What was that like for you?” 

“What do you mean when you say ____?”

 

Third, it is important to use words in a way that convey support. 

 

  • Do not reassure the person in a way that might minimize their experience

Examples:

“That happened so long ago, maybe it would help to try move on.”

“It’s not worth the energy to keep thinking about it.”

“Don’t be scared.”

 

  • Do not make judgments or evaluations about their responses or decisions

Examples:

“Couldn’t you do/say ______ instead?”

“I don’t think you should worry about it anymore.”

“I think it’d be better for you to _____.”

“Why don’t you ____?”

 

  • Do validate the person’s emotions in a genuine tone

(Examples: “If that happened to me, I can imagine I’d feel really overwhelmed too.”  “Given that experience, it makes sense you’d feel/say/do ________.”  “I think many people with that experience would have felt similarly.”)

 

  • Do point out the person’s strengths

Examples:

“I’m amazed at how much courage that took.” 

“You’ve done a great job at keeping everything in perspective.” 

“I really admire your strength.” 

“I’m impressed with how you’ve dealt with this.”

 

  • Do focus on their experience rather than your own and only give advice when it is requested.

 

When family and friends listen with respect and compassion they can help survivors on their paths to healing. To receive confidential support following a sexual assault, please contact the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

 

Biography:

 

Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. She received her PhD in Psychology from Stanford University. Freyd directs a laboratory investigating the impact of interpersonal and institutional trauma on mental and physical health, behavior, and society. The author or coauthor of 200 articles, Freyd is also the author of the Harvard Press award-winning book Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse. Her book Blind to Betrayal, co-authored with Pamela J. Birrell, was published in 2013, with seven additional translations. In 2014, Freyd was invited two times to the U.S. White House due to her research on sexual assault and institutional betrayal. Freyd has received numerous awards including being named a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and an Erskine Fellow at The University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In April 2016, Freyd was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation.  Freyd currently serves as the Editor of The Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. You can follow Dr. Freyd on Twitter at @jjforegon.

 

References:

 

¹For example, Ullman, S. E., & Peter-Hagene, L. (2014). Social reactions to sexual assault disclosure, coping, perceived control, and PTSD symptoms in sexual assault victims. J. Community Psychology, 42: 495-508. doi: 10.1002/jcop.21624. Also these suggestions are drawn from Freyd & Birrell (2013), Blind to Betrayal.

²These instructions were used in a study by: Foynes, M.M., & Freyd, J.J. (2011). The impact of skills training on responses to the disclosure of mistreatment. Psychology of Violence, 1, 66-77. The particular wording of these instructions was designed to match a control condition in our study. (See http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/jjf/disclosure for the specific experimental and control materials).

 


Filed under: Human Rights and Social Justice, Violence Tagged: discrimination, gender discrimination, harassment, sexual assault, sexual harassment, supporting victims, violence against women

How Can We Better Protect LGBTQ Students: Psychologists Take Action

Click to view slideshow.

By Joshua R. Wolff, PhD (Adler University); H.L. “Lou” Himes, PsyD (QuIPP); and Theresa Stueland Kay, PhD (OUTReach Utah)

Over the last year, we have witnessed regular news media headlines coming out of Washington, D.C. with a state of shock, horror, and anger. Specifically, we have been alarmed by the rollback of protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth and students.

We know from first-hand experience that LGBTQ students face many forms of discrimination which contribute to health disparities, such as increased rates of suicide and homelessness. Specifically:

  • I (Lou) have been gender non-conforming my whole life and I have faced harassment in educational institutions from elementary school through my doctoral studies.
  • I (Theresa) work with LGBTQ youth at an organization called OUTreach Utah. All too often, the youth I see are marginalized and bullied at home and at school. When they suffer at school, personnel frequently fail to protect these students. Even worse, faculty, staff, and administration often blame the youth for the fact that they are bullied.
  • I (Joshua) came out as gay at a faith-based college, Biola University, where I risked academic expulsion based solely on my sexual orientation, and realized I did not have any legal protections.

Together, we have each dedicated our careers as clinical psychologists to helping support LGBTQ people in the face of discrimination, which we have done through research, clinical services, and volunteering.

LGBTQ children and youth face daily roadblocks to their education and threats to their safety. This is a systemic issue and requires a systemic response.

Like many Americans, we have at times felt powerless against what seems to be an overwhelming recent assault on many of the most marginalized groups of Americans, including (but certainly not limited to) LGBTQ students. Hence, we asked ourselves “what can we do to help”? We decided to visit Washington, D.C. to talk to Members of Congress, including some who may not share our views, about the importance of protecting LGBTQ students.

Our first step was to contact staff at the APA to help us get started. We felt particularly fortunate to receive wonderful assistance from staff in the Public Interest and Education Government Relations Offices.

Prior to meetings with congressional offices, we connected with leading LGBTQ advocacy groups in Washington to learn about their current federal priorities and strategies. We met with the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, and the Trevor Project, as well as APA staff from the Safe and Supportive Schools Project. As a result, we learned about several important priorities. These included:

  • re-instating Title IX protections for transgender youth;
  • the ‘Safe Schools Improvement Act’ which would require schools to create plans to combat bullying, specifically including LGBTQ students;
  • fully funding Title IV (school climate improvement grants) of ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’; and
  • ensuring that federal surveys and surveillance systems  collect sexual orientation and gender identity data.

Further, we were alarmed to learn that the Trevor Project has seen a dramatic increase in the number of transgender youth calling their suicide prevention crisis hotline following the announcement of President Trump’s military ban for transgender service members. This provided a sobering reminder of how our government’s words and decisions affect those most vulnerable in our society.

Our meetings with these groups affirmed two clear messages:

(1) LGBTQ students need critical legal protections, and

(2) we need data to tell us how we can help.

We lobbied staff from the National Governors Association and the offices of Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on these important legal protections and data collection. Among the issues raised by the advocacy groups we met with the day before, we talked about:

  • the high rates of LGBTQ suicide attempts and homelessness, as well as
  • the lack of Title IX protections that could reduce bullying and victimization of transgender students
  • the need for greater legal protections and data collection to end these health disparities.

Each of us explained why these issues are important to us personally, how they impact our work as psychologists, and how they affect the Members’ constituents. Unsurprisingly, some offices did not agree on how to address the concerns. But others were eager to listen, and shared concerns about the high rates of suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth and other health disparities. All of the offices agreed that there should be ongoing Congressional oversight of the Department of Education to continue to protect students, and asked us to follow up and continue the conversation.

The experience reminded us that advocacy isn’t a one-time deal, and it’s not just happening in Washington. Advocacy can happen through a phone call or an email to our Members of Congress. Hence, we will follow up with the various offices we contacted to remind them about the critical protections that LGBTQ youth need.

We encourage you to get involved, too. Join the APA Federal Action Network or get involved at the local or community level. Psychologists have a lot to contribute to advocacy, and it’s vital to make your voice heard.

 

Biographies:

Joshua R. Wolff, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Adler University in Chicago, IL. Further, he was a contributor to the U.S. government’s (SAMHSA/HHS) report, “Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth”. His current research is directed at developing evidence-based public health strategies to reduce suicide rates and health risk behaviors for SGM people in non-affirming religious environments by building partnerships with clergy and faith leaders.

Theresa Stueland Kay, PhD, trained at Biola University, a faith-based institution, and is a licensed psychologist in Utah.  She is also an Associate Professor of Psychology at Weber State University.  Dr. Kay also serves as Board Chair at OUTreach Utah, a nonprofit organization that serves and supports LGBTQ youth.

H. L. “Lou” Himes, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and president at QuIPP, the Queer Identities Psychology Partnership—a group psychotherapy practice in Manhattan, NY that focuses on providing psychotherapy and transition-related support for trans/queer individuals.  Dr. Himes uses they/them/theirs pronouns.


Filed under: Children and Youth, Health Disparities, Human Rights and Social Justice, LGBT Issues, Public Policy Tagged: advocacy, Capitol Hill, data collection, Every Student Succeeds Act, gender identity, health disparities, LGBT, LGBT health, LGBT rights, LGBT students, LGBT youth, Safe Schools Improvement Act, sexual orientation, student health, suicide prevention, surveillance, Title IV, Title IX, transgender, transgender youth

Charlottesville and Us

Black Lives Matter Protest, Montreal

By Kumea Shorter-Gooden, PhD (Chief Diversity Officer, University of Maryland)

 

I’m hoping we’ve reached an inflection point. I’m hoping the tragedy at Charlottesville has created that – that such a bright light has been shined on White supremacy and racism that it compels us as a nation and as a world to take this problem seriously and to act in a transformative way.

 

The White supremacist rally which led to the death of one counter-protestor may seem worlds away from the lives we lead in schools, non-profits, government agencies and corporations. Charlottesville represents the most extreme, virulent and lethal form of racism—a form that is repudiated by most everyone. But racism occurs along a continuum. And the far other end is anchored by everyday acts of bias and prejudice. These everyday acts are often not intentional, not deliberate, not directly aimed at advantaging one race and disadvantaging another. They often reflect implicit rather than explicit prejudice and bias. The perpetrators of everyday bias are usually well-meaning people who see themselves as decent, fair and egalitarian, and surely not as racist. People like you and like me.

 

White Lives Matter Rally, Austin, Tx, Nov. 19, 2016

 

Everyday bias takes the form of racial micro-aggressions (for example, “He’s really smart for a Black guy”) and manifests in decision-making that can have far-reaching consequences (for example, “I can’t see a Latina woman from her background fitting in here”).

 

Racism does not persist because of extremists. They add fire and fuel, definitely. But racism persists because of the behaviors of everyday folks who have grown up in a world that’s rife with White supremacist beliefs. And racism persists because it’s been baked into most societal institutions and organizations – into how we admit, hire, evaluate, reward and promote; into the culture of the organization; into how we do business.

 

Thus, to end racism, each of us needs to do some work, starting with asking ourselves some questions: How do I collude with racism? Have I looked at my own biases and the ways that they manifest at home, in my community and at work? How am I actively addressing my biases? How does my company collude, perhaps unintentionally, with racism? Are there racial disparities in the workforce or in the experiences of employees of different racial groups? How are we actively addressing them?

 

Beyond these important questions, we need to do three things: First, we need to acknowledge that racism is real and alive – and not just on the streets of Charlottesville. Second, we need to find ways to confront our own racial biases—through looking inside; through listening and hearing from those who’ve been racially marginalized; through honest dialogue; and through learning about issues of race and racial oppression. Third, we need to engage our schools, companies and organizations in assessing their racial diversity and inclusivity—in acknowledging what’s working and in facing what’s not; in realizing that fighting racism is a systemic and ongoing challenge, even in the best institutions.

 

Let’s not let Charlottesville be for naught. We all have work to do!

 

Biography:

 

Kumea Shorter-Gooden, PhD, a clinical/community psychologist and the principal of Shorter-Gooden Consulting, was the first Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Maryland, College Park. She can be reached at [email protected].

 

Image Source: iStockPhoto.com

 


Filed under: Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: bias, Charlottesville, implicit bias, microaggressions, prejudice, racism, white supremacy

Black Pain, Black Joy, and Racist Fear: Supporting Black Children in a Hostile World

African American father and son

This is the second in a series of blog posts that the American Psychological Association (APA) will publish regarding racial/ethnic socialization practices, programs, and approaches. APA is putting together a clearinghouse of resources to help parents/caregivers to protect youth of color and themselves from the psychological damage of discrimination and racism. For more information regarding APA’s new initiative and to provide feedback as we continue to engage in this series, please visit: www.apa.org/pi/res

By Angel Dunbar, PhD (Post-Doctoral Associate, University of Maryland)

On Saturday August 12, 2017, I awoke to images from the night before of dozens of White nationalists marching through the University of Virginia Charlottesville carrying torches and chanting “you will not replace us.”

This chant, “you will not replace us,” embodies the perception held by White nationalists that people of color are eminent threats to the continuation of White supremacy. However, this dangerous fear is not limited to self-proclaimed White nationalist. It runs deep within and across various institutions that impact adults and children alike, including the education and justice systems.

Taking in the images from Charlottesville and considering them against the backdrop of other overt and covert displays of racism in recent years, I was reminded of the intense emotionality of racism and its effect on Black children.

I imagine the level of fear it must take for a police officer to shoot a 12-year-old Black child within two seconds of arriving on the scene. I wonder about the level of hatred one must hold to be able to shoot at Black teenagers enjoying music in their car. I recall the anger and pain one feels at not only experiencing racism but also vicariously witnessing and learning about racism. And I consider the constant emotional restraint needed to remain composed so as not to become another victim of racist fear.

Unsurprisingly, parents and caregivers are increasingly concerned for the wellbeing of Black children. Research shows that:

When it seems like Black children are mistreated for expressing anger, fear, joy, or for simply existing, it can be a daunting task to figure out how to best protect them from harm while also allowing them to live and thrive unapologetically. Here are a few things to consider from the research:

 

Facts of Life

 

1. Strike a balance

It is reasonable to encourage children to control their emotions (e.g., “don’t get too upset” “don’t react in anger”) and monitor their behavior in certain contexts—such as with teachers and administrators, law enforcement, and unknown adults—in an effort to decrease their chances of being harmed or treated with bias. Research shows that not talking to Black children about racism and what they may witness or experience can actually lead to more distress later, due to the shock of unexpected exposure.

However, excessive suppression of emotions without an outlet can lead to depression, anxiety, acting out, and can even take a toll on cardiovascular health. For balance, caregivers can encourage children to feel comfortable expressing their emotions at home and with close friends and extended family.

Speaking of emotional outlets…

Carefree children running and playing in garden

 

2. Processing emotions is essential

As adults, experiencing or witnessing racism can be extremely emotionally upsetting. So imagine how overwhelming it must be for children, who are still developing the skill of managing their emotions, to experience or even learn about racism. Research shows that validating and being sensitive to children’s feelings of fear, anger, and sadness helps them learn to effectively cope with these emotions. It also helps to prevent depression, anxiety, and behavior problems.

Validation and sensitivity comes in many forms, including allowing children to express their feelings, comforting them with physical affection and reassuring words, and problem solving with them. Here are some questions you can ask your child the next time he or she is upset by images they see in the media or something that happened to them….

“What happened?”

“Why do you think that happened?”

“How did it make you feel?”

“What can we do to feel better?”

Also check out this blog post by Dr. Riana Anderson about how our own emotional distress to racism can impact these conversations with children.

 

Close up portrait of a happy little boy smiling

3. Surround children with love and remain joyful

Being discriminated against and learning that others may not like them simply because they are Black can take a toll on children’s sense of self-worth and overall health. Having positive, warm, and supportive relationships both in and outside of the home can buffer against the negative impact of racism.

Such warm and supportive relationships are a constant reminder to children that they have people to turn to and that they are loved, lovable, and have immense value. In addition to everyday love and support, sending children counter messages and positive affirmations about blackness can also boost their confidence and self-esteem.

Despite the violence against Black lives and the accompanying trauma, the Black community continues to persevere and remain joyful. In the words of activist and writer Kleaver Cruz, “Black joy is resistance.” Most importantly, Black joy is healing.

 

Biography:

Dr. Angel Dunbar is a postdoctoral associate in the African American Studies Department. Dr. Dunbar completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and her B.A. in psychology and sociology at the University of Delaware.

Dr. Dunbar is a Developmental Scientist whose research focuses on understanding the unique developmental challenges that children of color encounter and the family processes and individual factors that influence positive adaptation in the face of these challenges. Specifically, her program of research addresses the following: (1) the detrimental effects of racial/ethnic discrimination on the social-emotional, psychological, and academic outcomes of children of color, (2) the messages parents relay about race/racism and emotions in an attempt to mitigate these effects, and (3) children’s individual protective factors such as emotional, behavioral, and physiological self-regulation and emotion understanding. Dr. Dunbar’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Filed under: Children and Youth, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: African American children, African American youth, black children, children's mental health, racial identity, racial socialization, self-esteem, self-expression

Is the Current Political Climate Hurting LGBTQ Youth? What Schools and Families Can Do

blog-political-climate-LGBTQ-youth

By Tyler Hatchel, MA (Counseling Psychology Doctoral Student, University of Florida, Espelage Lab)

 

How is the current sociopolitical climate impacting at-risk LGBTQ youth?

 

Although I believe that simply seeing or hearing about the diminished rights of diverse and oppressed folk is distressing for LGBTQ youth, Bandura’s seminal work on Social Learning Theory might suggest that the impact is more insidious. This theory posits that new behavior can be learned by simply watching and imitating others1. The likelihood of a new behavior occurring is potentially influenced by observed rewards or punishments (i.e., vicarious reinforcement).  It is then plausible that seeing aggression, discrimination, prejudice, and stigma being rewarded with monumental power could shape how all youth in the U.S. behave.

 

There is well established research showing that aggression in the sense of peer victimization and bullying is deleterious to the mental health of LGBTQ youth33,6,11,12,15,17. Although there are many different ways to frame aggression, Bandura (1973) has demonstrated that seeing aggressive behavior often predicts future aggression.  It follows then that the sociopolitical climate in the U. S. could predict more peer victimization directed at diverse youth like LGBTQ students.  However, there is not much school administrators and parents can do to easily change a nation’s political climate.  However, there are things one can do to change community or school climate.

 

What can schools do?

 

Create safe and supportive environments:

 

 

Accommodating the needs of LGBTQ youth are profound for improving school climate. School climate is vital when it comes to their well-being. Many studies have demonstrated that accepting and warm climates serve as protective factors whereas less accommodating climates have a negative impact on LGBTQ youth7,9,10,16.  Programs and policies play a large role in shaping school climate.

 

Use teachers and staff to reduce discrimination:

 

 

Teachers and staff are essential to creating welcoming environments for LGBTQ youth as well. If students hear prejudice from their teachers or do not observe an appreciation for diversity, then it is reasonable to posit that this would diminish the quality of climate and even predict student discrimination. I trust schools can protect their LGBTQ youth by hiring teachers and staff who are diverse themselves and allies for diverse youth. Watching role models be allies for LGBTQ youth could cultivate a sense of belonging for LGBTQ students.  I suspect some schools are not ready to remodel their entire staff.  If hiring is not a strategy available, training is another approach.  Cultivate an appreciation and understanding of diversity in your teachers.  Make it a point to incorporate LGBTQ-specific curriculum in your classes.

 

Foster school connectedness:

 

 

Feeling connected is another critical part of LGBTQ youth well-being4,5. Some research has suggested that peer victimization diminishes belonging which then predicts associated mental health issues like suicidality8. Although belonging and connectedness can be specific to an LGBTQ community, they do not have to be. LGBTQ youth can find belonging in theatre club or marching band if these programs are accepting or even appreciative of diversity.  I know I would feel connected to a band or club if the teacher was committed to social justice issues, an ally, and/or identified as LGBTQ.

 

But what can parents do, you ask?

 

You can be models for all youth by appreciating diversity in your homes and communities. Furthermore, you can advocate for the inclusion of anti-bullying programs, trans-inclusive policies, and other options like Gay Straight Alliances.  You can also push for the inclusion of diverse teachers/staff in your children’s schools.  Finally, please be an understanding and proud parent of your LGBTQ children as that is clearly another protective factor for LGBTQ youth13.

 

Essentials for LGBTQ youth well-being:

 

  • Less exposure to peer victimization
  • Warm and accommodating school climates
  • A sense of belonging and connectedness
  • Supportive families
  • Positive role models who appreciate diversity

 

 

LGBTQ youth are an incredibly important and valuable part of our society. Although these youth are clearly resilient, it is their right to be treated as equals by our schools, communities, and families.  This is especially true when dire sociopolitical climates are disheartening.

 

Resources for LGBTQ youth, parents, and schools:

 

 

 

References:

 

1Bandura, A., (1971). Social learning theory. General Learning Corporation.

2Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression: A social learning analysis. Oxford, England: Prentice-Hall.

3Birkett, M., Espelage, D.L., & Koenig, B. (2009). LGB and questioning students in schools: The moderating effects of homophobic bullying and school climate on negative outcomes. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 989 – 1000. doi: 10.1007/s10964-008-9389-1

4Eisenberg, M. E., Neumark‐Sztainer, D., & Perry, C. L. (2003). Peer harassment, school connectedness, and academic achievement. Journal of School Health, 73, 311-316. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2003.tb06588.x

5Eisenberg, M. E., & Resnick, M. D. (2006). Suicidality among gay, lesbian and bisexual youth: The role of protective factors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39, 662-668. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.04.024

6Espelage, D. L., Merrin, G. J., & Hatchel, T. (2016). Peer Victimization and Dating Violence Among LGBTQ Youth: The Impact of School Violence and Crime on Mental Health Outcomes. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1-18. doi: 10.1177/1541204016680408

7Goodenow, C., Szalacha, L., & Westheimer, K. (2006). School support groups, other school factors, and the safety of sexual minority adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 43(5), 573-589. DOI: 10.1002/pits.20173

8 Hatchel, T., Espelage, D. L., & Huang, Y. (in press). Sexual harassment victimization, school belonging, and depressive symptoms among LGBTQ adolescents: Temporal insights. Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

9Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Birkett, M., Van Wagenen, A., & Meyer, I. H. (2014). Protective school climates and reduced risk for suicide ideation in sexual minority youths. American Journal of Public Health, 104(2), 279-286. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301508

10Hatzenbuehler, M. L., & Keyes, K. M. (2013). Inclusive anti-bullying policies and reduced risk of suicide attempts in lesbian and gay youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S21-S26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.08.010

11 Huebner, D. M., Thoma, B. C., & Neilands, T. B. (2015). School victimization and substance use among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents. Prevention Science, 16(5), 734-743. DOI: 10.1007/s11121-014-0507-x

12Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Bartkiewicz, M. J., Boesen, M. J., & Palmer, N. A. (2012). The 2011 national school climate survey. New York, NY: GLSEN.

13Poteat, V. P., Mereish, E. H., DiGiovanni, C. D., & Koenig, B. W. (2011). The effects of general and homophobic victimization on adolescents’ psychosocial and educational concerns: the importance of intersecting identities and parent support. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58, 597. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0025095

14Robinson, J.P., & Espelage, D.L. (2011). Inequities in educational and psychological outcomes between LGBTQ and straight students in middle and high school. Educational Researcher, 40, 315-330. doi: 10.3102/0013189X11422112

15 Toomey, R. B., Ryan, C., Diaz, R. M., Card, N. A., & Russell, S. T. (2010). Gender-nonconforming lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth: school victimization and young adult psychosocial adjustment. Developmental psychology, 46(6), 1580. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0020705

16Ueno, K. (2005). Sexual orientation and psychological distress in adolescence: Examining interpersonal stressors and social support processes. Social Psychology Quarterly, 68, 258-277.

17Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, K. J., Kosciw, J. G., & Korchmaros, J. D. (2015). Understanding linkages between bullying and suicidal ideation in a national sample of LGB and heterosexual youth in the United States. Prevention Science, 16, 451-462. doi: 10.1007/s11121-014-0510-2

 

Biography:

 

Tyler James Hatchel, MA is a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at the University of Florida, Department of Psychology. Tyler graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a BA and MA in psychology. His research interests broadly include developmental psychology, prevention science, aggression, and mental health. He is particularly interested in examining the well-being of at risk and stigmatized youth. More specifically, he has completed a number of studies that explored the various risk and protective factors that shape the relations between peer victimization and poor outcomes for LGBTQ youth. He is also interested in digital media, suicidality, and tele-health. He is currently appointed as a research assistant for Dr. Espelage’s lab which focuses on understanding and preventing bullying, peer aggression, and sexual assault. Tyler has both been the recipient of a number of awards and published a few studies. He has worked with at The Trevor Project, with number of public school administrators, and served as a counselor at the University of Florida. He would like to become appointed as a professor and continue completing translational research that proves beneficial for at risk and stigmatized youth.


Filed under: Children and Youth, Human Rights and Social Justice, LGBT Issues Tagged: bullying, bullying prevention, Education, homophobia, LGBT allies, LGBT students, LGBT youth, politics, safe and supportive schools, safe schools, school climate, school connectedness, transphobia

Elder Financial Abuse is Here to Stay and It’s Time We Do Something About It

blog-elder-financial-abuse

By Osnat Lupesko-Persky (Doctoral Student, Palo Alto University) and Lisa M. Brown, PhD (Professor, Palo Alto University)

 

On February 13, 2015, the Elder Justice Reauthorization Act (H.R. 988) was introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill addresses the growing problem of elder financial abuse and emphasizes the role the federal government should take in coordinating and leading state support efforts. It provides a legal framework for necessary cooperation between federal and state agencies that handle health, legal and social services.

 

Sadly, since April 2015, the bill has been buried deep in the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training with no signs of progress in its legislation. In this blog post, we describe the reasons why we believe the Reauthorization Act would benefit millions of older adults and their families.

 

Financial abuse of older adults has been described as “the crime of the 21st century.” While some readers may consider such statements as hyperbole, the facts speak for themselves.

 

  • According to a 2011 MetLife Study “elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion dollars, a 12% increase from the $2.6 billion estimated in 2008.”
  • More recent research from 2015 by True Link, a California-based financial services firm specializing in retirees, argues that MetLife’s financial estimates are significantly underestimated. According to the True Link report, annual losses due to older adult financial fraud reach $36.48 billion and have been identified as a rapidly growing epidemic.

 

It is of little surprise, therefore, that older adult financial abuse is an area of societal concern for policy makers, law enforcement, clinicians, and researchers.

 

What sets elder financial abuse apart from other types of financial fraud?

 

One significant reason that it is in a league of its own is that older adults are highly vulnerable relative to their younger counterparts. For example, those with diminished physical or mental capacity coupled with declined independence are at greatest risk for financial exploitation by:

 

  1. relatives, friends or caregivers,
  2. business fraud, such as nursing homes, attorneys, insurance or banking,
  3. fraud by strangers, through communication mediums (internet, phone, mail), and
  4. Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

 

What makes elder financial abuse so prevalent, persistent and ‘contagious’? Why is elders’ financial fraud ‘here to stay’ and even likely to increase?

 

There are several reasons supporting our conclusion:

 

  1. Baby-boomers, recently crossing the ‘senior’ threshold, are considered both money-makers and money spenders: According to a Nielsen report from 2012 “Boomers make the most money and they spend what they make”. Indeed, according to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, persons over 50 control over 70% of the nation’s wealth, and it is expected to increase.
  2. Improved longevity means an increased percentage of older adults with significant financial power: The Nielsen report predicted that by 2017, 50% of U.S. adult population will be aged 50 and older and they will control 70% of the country’s disposable income. Also, by 2050, there will be 161 million adults aged 50 and older, a 63% increase from 2010.
  3. Baby-boomers are a significant consumer force: Boomers account for nearly $230 billion in spending on consumer packaged goods and possess a whopping buying force of almost 50% of total sales. Such strong spending by an aging group of the population is bound to attract fraud attempts.
  4. Baby-boomers are technology-savvy: they account for 40% of wireless customers, and 41% of apple computers clients. In addition, they spend on average 22-25 hours monthly using the internet on a computer, which is 2 hours more than the monthly average of 14-25 years old. As financial fraud through the Internet increases, so will fraud attempts against older adults making purchases online.

 

How does financial abuse impact older adults?

 

Studies suggest that financial abuse frequently results in reduced emotional and physical health, in addition to financial damage. The True Link report estimated that almost 950,000 elderly victims are skipping meals as a result of financial abuse. Naturally, when a subset of the population is already more vulnerable physically and emotionally, the impact of a crime would be even more severe.

 

What is the right approach to address elder financial abuse – prevention or support and assistance after-the-fact?

 

In the past two decades, researchers and government policy-makers focused mainly on creating methods that law enforcement and other organizations could use to identify fraud attempts in order to preempt them. Far less academic research has focused on the types of support – legal, social, mental health or other – required after the damage was done. As a result, there are no viable policies that address mechanisms of support for older adult victims of financial abuse, and there are no significant mechanisms of coordination and cooperation between the different agencies (e.g., legal, social, health, etc.).

 

Since we now know that elder financial abuse is a growing problem, it is of paramount importance to expedite this legislation in order to:

  • accelerate collaboration between relevant agencies and
  • develop programs that provide better and more comprehensive care for older adults who are victims of financial abuse.

 

References:

 

DaDalt, O. (2016). Older adults and fraud: Suggestions for policy and practice. Journal of Economic & Financial Studies4(03), 38-44.

 

H.R. 988 Elder Justice Reauthorization Act. Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/988

 

MetLife (2011).The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse: Crimes of Occasion, Desperation, and Predation Against America’s Elders. Retrieved from: https://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/2011/mmi-elder-financial-abuse.pdf

 

Nielsen and Boomagers, LLC. (2012). Introducing Boomers – Marketing’s most valuable generation. Retrieved from: http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/reports-downloads/2012-Reports/nielsen-boomers-report-082912.pdf

 

True Link. (2015). The True Link report on elder financial abuse. Retrieved from: https://truelink-wordpress-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/True-Link-Report-On-Elder-Financial-Abuse-012815.pdf

 

U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2011). Elder Justice: Stronger Federal Leadership Could Enhance National Response to Elder Abuse. Retrieved from: http://www.gao.gov/assets/320/316224.pdf

 

Biographies:

 

Osnat Lupesko-Persky is a second year PhD student in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University and focuses on various areas of intersection between psychology and the law. Prior to her studies, Osnat worked as a criminal defense attorney at the law firm of Brafman & Associates in New York City. Osnat holds a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School, Tufts University.

Lisa M. Brown, PhD, ABPP is a professor of psychology and director of the Trauma Program at Palo Alto University. She is licensed in Florida and California and is board certified through The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Geropsychology. Dr. Brown’s clinical and research focus is on trauma and resilience, aging, health, vulnerable populations, disasters, and long-term care. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Aging, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service, and the Agency for Healthcare Administration.

 

Image source: Shutterstock


Filed under: Aging, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: aging, elder abuse, elder financial abuse, financial abuse, older adults

Historical Trauma in the Present: Why APA Cannot Remain Silent on the Dakota Access Pipeline

blog-standing-rock

By Susan H. McDaniel, PhD (2016 APA President)

Protesters being marked with numbers, put in dog kennels and shot with rubber bullets. These do not sound like events that should occur in modern day America. Unfortunately, according to media reports, these are some of the first-hand accounts of what is happening in North Dakota as protests escalate over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

For those unfamiliar with the dispute between environmental and human rights protesters on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and law enforcement, I would invite to you read the New York Times detailed summary of events. In short, there is a growing perception of injustice as a 1,172-mile oil pipeline that is slated to run from North Dakota to Illinois was rerouted near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation due its potential threat of contamination to Bismarck, North Dakota’s water supply.

Native Americans have been historically marginalized and mistreated by the United States. For instance, not all States recognized Native Americans’ right to vote until 1957 and many tribes experienced great loss of life, land and culture as the result of State and Federal legislation.

According to the psychological literature, chronic, systemic loss and mistreatment, as described above, may lead to historical trauma in which the pain experienced by one generation transfers to subsequent generations through biological, psychological, environmental, and social means. Studies show that historical trauma is linked to health disparities, including increased likelihood of early death due to chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, unintentional injuries, assault/homicide, and suicide.

APA’s mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.” This mission makes it incumbent upon our field and our association to speak out when the health and well-being of marginalized and other populations are being threatened and when possible to prevent trauma from occurring.

Due to the current proposed placement of the Dakota Access pipeline, we are concerned about possible leakage, which could harm the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. As psychologists, we are troubled by the potential for adverse neurological effects arising from exposure to oil-contaminated water.

In response to current events, I sent a letter on behalf of APA to President Obama with Dr. Jacqueline Gray, President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race (APA Division 45) that expressed:

  • Our support for the Administration’s hold on the construction of the oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation, and praise for his consideration of alternate routes for the project; and
  • A request to urge law enforcement to show restraint as they try to diffuse the conflict.

It is critical that APA and the mental health community continue to show our support and bring attention to the issues impacting Native American communities and to help alleviate historical trauma.

In closing, I recommend you sign up for APA’s Federal Action Network to influence policy makers and make sure your voice is heard on critical issues in the future.

Dr. McDaniel is president of the American Psychological Association.

 

Image source: Flickr via Creative Commons.


Filed under: Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Health Disparities, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: #DAPL, #noDAPL, American Indians, Dakota Access Pipeline, environmental racism, health disparities, historical trauma, human rights, human rights abuses, law enforcement, Native Americans, police brutality, public health, public policy, racism, trauma, violence, water is life

How the Federal Government Can Better Protect LGBTQ Students in Religious Universities & Colleges

Urban lesbian couple enjoy

This is a cross-post from Adler University’s “The Socially Responsible Practitioner” blog.  Joshua Wolff, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, Adler University) describes his recommendations to the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education on how best to protect the wellbeing of LGBTQ students attending religious institutions of higher education where their identities are not supported. Growing social and legal acceptance of LGBTQ individuals has resulted in many of these institutions applying for exemptions from Title IX (which prohibits sex discrimination in education) due to religious convictions. In short, these institutions are able to discriminate against LGBTQ college students while still receiving taxpayer funds. The risks posed to LGBTQ students by this are great cause for concern. An excerpt is posted below. You can read the full post here.

This September, I met with staff members in the Office of Civil Rights, at the U.S. Department of Education (DOEd) in Washington, D.C. to talk about the risks posed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) students by disaffirming religious universities/colleges (DRUs). Last year, the DOEd published a list of religious colleges and universities which have applied for exemption to Title IX, which includes federal regulations against sex discrimination in colleges. These are institutions of higher education seeking to discriminate against LGBTQ students on the basis of the institutions’ religious convictions—while still collecting taxpayer dollars.

Currently, Title IX allows schools who are “controlled by a religious entity” to request exemptions to Title IX on the basis of religious beliefs which may be in conflict with federal regulations. Since Title IX was passed in 1972, requests for exemptions were generally limited to contraception concerns at Catholic schools. However, there has been a dramatic increase in Title IX exemption requests over the past 2 years in response to growing social and legal acceptance of LGBTQ people. As it currently stands, universities with Title IX exemption are allowed to:

  • Refuse to admit or retain students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Refuse gender-affirming housing or restrooms to transgender students
  • Discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment

Read the rest of the post here.

Image source: iStockPhoto.com


Filed under: Children and Youth, Human Rights and Social Justice, LGBT Issues Tagged: higher education, LGBT, LGBT rights, LGBT youth