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Submit a 2- to 4-page paper in which you review the approach taken by the social worker in Brandon’s case. (CASE IS ATTACHED)1. Identify how the social worker might have used the ecological model to understand Brandon’s situation based on a person-in-environment perspective. 2. Explain the use of the ecological model in this case on micro, mezzo, and macro levels. 3. Describe strengths the social worker may have missed in assessing Brandon and his mother. 4. Review the challenges that the social worker identifies and explain the impact the abuse could have had on Brandon had his strengths not been identified and addressed.Articles Attached may be used within this paper. It is preferred. APA FORMAT WITH ALL CITATIONS AND REFERENCES.


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Working With Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Trauma: The Case of Brandon
Brandon is a 12-year-old, Caucasian male who currently resides with his mother and her boyfriend. Six
years ago, Brandon disclosed that his father had repeatedly sexually abused him between the ages of 4
and 6. Brandon’s mother called law enforcement immediately after the disclosure, and his father has been
incarcerated since. Brandon has previously participated in therapy to address challenging behaviors,
including physical aggression, difficulty following rules at home and school, and using inappropriate
language with sexual overtones toward female peers. Brandon and his mother report that they ceased
participating in therapy in the past after there was no change in Brandon’s behavior. Brandon’s teachers
have suggested that his behaviors are similar to those of peers with attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder, but his mother has declined educational or psychological testing because she does not want her
son to be labeled and is unsure if she agrees with the use of psychotropic medication with children.
Brandon began attending trauma-focused treatment after demonstrating an increase in argumentative
behavior and minor property destruction at home. His mother reported that the majority of undesired
behaviors were initiated during interactions with her boyfriend. Brandon’s use of physical aggression has
not increased in school; however, a female peer recently reported him for using sexually explicit language
toward her. Brandon admitted to using inappropriate language toward the female peer but appeared to
have a limited understanding of what the phrases used meant. Brandon’s mother noted during intake that
she is concerned that her son will become a violent sexual offender or a pedophile and noted that his use
of sexual language was likely the start of sexual behavior problems.
At the beginning of treatment, Brandon reported that he frequently feared for his physical safety but
often could not pinpoint what made him feel unsafe. He had searched the Internet to find registered
sexual offenders in his neighborhood, and he had begun sleeping with a loaded BB gun under his pillow
in case someone entered the home to assault him again. Brandon had flashbacks when trying to fall asleep
and described feeling like he was floating outside of his body when he thought of his abuse. He had seen
a television show where victims spoke at the parole hearings of their perpetrators, and he spent many
hours thinking about what he would say if he went to his father’s parole hearing in 3 years. Brandon felt
like he loved his father very much and that his father was a great father except for when he hurt him.
Brandon identified wanting to feel less worried, sleep better, and fight less with his mother as primary
treatment goals.
I worked with Brandon in both individual and family sessions to address his symptoms of depression and
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Utilizing the trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy
approach, early sessions focused on coping skills and emotional regulation. As Brandon became more
comfortable with expressing feelings and utilizing coping skills, he began discussing his sexual abuse
history and the ongoing effect this experience had on his life. I met with Brandon’s mother for collateral
sessions in order to help her identify and process her own feelings about his abuse and to develop skills
to support Brandon through his treatment. Brandon’s mother was provided with psychoeducation
regarding childhood sexual abuse, and her belief that her son would become a violent sexual offender as
a result of his experience was challenged through cognitive behavioral therapy. She agreed to meet the
agency psychiatrist, and after the initial consultation she agreed to have Brandon meet with the doctor.
After a psychiatric evaluation, Brandon was prescribed a low dose of antidepressant medication.
Brandon completed a trauma narrative that addressed the details of his sexual abuse experience, his
disclosure of the abuse, and the trial and subsequent imprisonment of his father. Brandon included a
description of his feelings at each point in his narrative, as well as what he learned in treatment about
childhood sexual abuse and coping skills to deal with uncomfortable feelings and impulsivity. Brandon
shared his trauma narrative with his mother, who provided a safe and supportive space during this
experience through the use of skills learned and practiced during collateral parent sessions. Brandon’s
symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress decreased steadily during the course of treatment.
After 8 months of sessions and the successful completion of his trauma narrative, the family and I agreed
that Brandon was ready to terminate trauma-focused treatment. Brandon continued receiving medication
management with a psychiatrist and transitioned into home- and community-based treatment that
focused on his ongoing impulsive behaviors.
International Social Work 51(1): 37±46
i s w
Sage Publications: Los Angeles, London, New Delhi and Singapore
DOI: 10.1177/0020872807083914
Children’s rights: a challenge for
social work
* Rudi Roose and Maria De Bie
On 20 November 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations
adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Since
then, the rights of the child have been promoted by an increasing
number of actors as a frame of reference for social work with children and families. Skegg (2005) argues that a human rights approach
to social work is not without risk, because of the Western character
of the concept of human rights. In this article, we argue that a
human rights approach, and more speci®cally a children’s rights
approach, to social work also contains risks within Western society
itself. The rights of the child can be interpreted in different ways,
with different consequences for clients and for social workers. On
the one hand, the focus can be on the legal status of the child. We
point out the possibly negative consequences for children and parents in such an interpretation. On the other hand, the rights of the
child can be seen as a lever for commitment. Here, the focus is on
the question of how these rights can be realized in different contexts
and with respect for the rights of other actors involved. This focus
demands a perspective on the rights of the child and the CRC as a
framework for social work as a social and political platform,
which creates space for meaning making with parents and children
and with regard to the societal context.
Key words *
children’s rights
* citizenship * dialogue *
social work
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International Social Work
volume 51(1)
A focus on the legal status of children
Rights as an end to dialogue
In the debate on children’s rights and social work, the emphasis
often lies on the improvement of the legal status of the child, for
instance the right to register complaints and the right to participate
in reviews and planning meetings. Although such legislation is
important, a one-sided emphasis on strengthening the legal position
of children and other service users starts from a belief in `rights talk’:
that is, the search for solutions to social problems in terms of the
individual rights of the parties involved. For instance, in a con¯ict
between parents and children, the law will decide who is right and
who is wrong. This approach conceives of rights as an end to dialogue: the solution to problems is to be found in the legal rule.
For instance, the con¯ict between a social worker and a client can
be resolved through the recognition of the right to complain: when
clients are not satis®ed with the care they receive, they can simply
complain about it. This approach turns the debate on the rights of
children predominantly into a debate on their legal status.
A normative concept of citizenship
A human rights approach in social work can be linked to a citizenship framework for social work (Skegg, 2005). Following this link,
the debate on the recognition of children’s rights focuses on the
question of whether children are fellow-citizens (Kiwan, 2005), a
question which involves conceptions not only of children and childhood but also of citizenship itself. This last term denotes the way in
which the relationship between the state and its citizens is de®ned
(Wong and Wong, 2004). In a human rights approach solely focused
on legal status, the emphasis is on the legal equality of citizens: every
citizen should be allowed to exercise his or her rights. In that view,
autonomy is a characteristic of and a condition for citizenship.
Citizens, including children, are expected to possess or acquire the
competence to stand up for their rights and, if necessary, claim them.
Social work as disciplinary action
The interpretation of the rights of the child as based on legal status
ultimately reduces social work to disciplinary action. It starts from a
banking concept of education (Freire, 1970), in which the social
worker is an expert who will teach children and parents how to
act. In this view, empowerment, which is one of the central concepts
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Roose & De Bie: Children’s rights
in social work today (Margolin, 1997), is de®ned as an empowerment of the self, as an obligation for every citizen. `Taking control
of one’s life, or particular aspects of it, is not only seen as being intimately connected with the formation or reformation of the self as
empowered, it is increasingly becoming an ethical obligation of the
new citizenry’ (Baistow, 1994: 37).
Creating dichotomies
The emphasis on autonomy ignores the fact that people often do not
act autonomously and that it is a ®ction to believe that rights can
create this autonomy (Apostel, 1989). For instance, recognizing
the rights of the child to complain does not mean the child wants
to or is able to use this right. The formal right to complain might
not give satisfaction to a child’s wish to be taken seriously. In fact,
the belief in the ideal of autonomy on the one hand and the
problem-solving capacity of rights on the other creates a dichotomy
between citizens and non-citizens and between the rights of children
and those of adults.
A dichotomy between citizens and non-citizens
The concept of the autonomous individual sharpens the contrast
between the citizen and the non-citizen. Since children and adults
have rights, they are also expected to (learn to) claim these rights.
In this way, the emphasis on equality creates inequality, since it
imposes an equality standard by which everyone is to be assessed
(Masschelein and Simons, 2002). People who are seen as unable to
manage their lives properly ± for instance, clients of social work ±
are seen as non-citizens: with the entrance of the citizen, the client
seems to disappear (Pols, 2004).
A dichotomy between the rights of children and the rights of adults
A one sided emphasis on the legal status of the child also creates a
dichotomy between children’s rights and the rights of adults, for
instance those of parents. This emphasis leads social work to be
regarded as a type of legal protection of the child in which parents
only have rights in so far as they serve the child’s best interests
(Howe, 2001; Westman, 1999). The legal-status view of children’s
rights holds parents to be primarily responsible for the implementation of these rights. The recognition, enshrined in the CRC, that
parents have the primary responsibility for upbringing is ultimately
interpreted as the right of children to good parents who perform
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International Social Work
volume 51(1)
their education tasks to the full (Willems, 2002). The legal-status
view enjoins parents to raise their children in the `correct’ way.
This correct way is currently viewed as a negotiated upbringing
(Beck, 1997; Vandenbroeck and Bouverne-De Bie, 2006). The
family, and if necessary social work, is viewed as the training
ground where the child prepares for active and democratic citizenship (Tomanovic-Mihajlovic, 2000). Parents then become the managers of education and children small entrepreneurs of their own
lives (Van Nijnatten, 2000). As regards parents and state, this view
makes the parent one who has to be educated and taught to act in
the child’s best interests (Moqvist, 2003). Such a view was also formulated during the preliminary proceedings for the CRC, which
stressed the importance of the second sentence of article 18.1 of
the CRC: `Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have
the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of
the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.’
This could suggest that families are protected from unnecessary state
interference, but conversely: `It also indicates that parents or legal
guardians cannot expect the state to intervene because the upbringing and the development of the child is primarily their responsibility’
(Detrick, 1996: 100).
Sentimentalization and distrust of parents and social workers
Critics argue that when the rights of parents are seen in the function
of the rights of the child, parental authority is undermined (Purdy,
1994), since focusing on the individual rights of the child creates distrust towards adults, not just parents but other educators ± for
instance social workers ± as well (Pupavac, 1998, 2001). This distrust
has come about because the emphasis on the individual rights of the
child has arisen in a climate of sentimentalization and a growing
focus on the symbolic value of the child (King, 1997; Pupavac,
2001). This process is believed to be related to social changes, notably the development of a risk society in which `the child is the source
of the last remaining irrevocable unexchangeable primary relationship. Partners come and go. The child stays. Everything that is
desired, but not realisable in the relationship is directed to the
child’ (Beck, 1994: 118). This symbolic value of children may have
negative consequences for the parents and social workers as well
as for the children. Distrust is generated towards adults in `a misanthropic view of adulthood’ (Pupavac, 2001: 100) in which `the
very idea of parental authority has been compromised as abusive
in itself’ (Pupavac, 2001: 106). The de®nition of child abuse by the
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Roose & De Bie: Children’s rights
World Health Organization is noteworthy in this respect: `All forms
of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or
negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation resulting
in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility,
trust, or power’, in other words, any form of injustice done to the
child. It is obvious that such a broad conception of abuse views all
children as actually or potentially in danger. Consequently, childraising or social work with children becomes a very hazardous
task. The sentimentalization of children can be harmful to children
as well, for instance by increasing the risk of child abuse when children fail to meet expectations of emotional proximity and comradeship (de Graaf, 1993). Pupavac (1999) suggests that parents tend to
abandon their educational commitments towards their children
rather than maximize them if they perceive the ideal (negotiated)
upbringing as unattainable.
Children’s rights as a lever for commitment
Rights as a starting point for dialogue
The CRC should not only be considered as a legal instrument focusing on individual rights but also as a general policy framework outlining obligations for the state and for social services with respect to
children and parents alike. From this social political point of view,
the focus shifts from the autonomy of the child towards discussion
about the commitment of society and of social work towards
children and families. In this context, the discussion is of a fundamental commitment to the realization of sustainable conditions in
society, so that all parents can raise their children and every child’s
adequate development can be ensured. With regard to the daily
practice of social work, this means that children’s rights are rights
that are to be shaped in a participative way, a process in which
parents and children themselves participate, not only in the implementation of their rights, but also in discussion on the meaning
and content of these rights. From this perspective, rights function
as a starting point for dialogue instead of an end to it. This conception of rights implies that children are accepted as co-actors in a
dialogue about their best interests. In social work, children may
have different perceptions of what is in their best interests from,
for instance, their parents and the social worker, but that does not
necessarily mean that the rights of the child are more important
then the rights of others or that the child has the most adequate
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International Social Work
volume 51(1)
view. Rights as a starting point for dialogue implies that in every
context, children and parents should examine together, in dialogue,
whether their rights are given full play. Hence, as Ife and Fiske argue
(2006), human rights are a valid framework for social work as a form
of community work, where human rights can inspire the practice of
social work, but social work practice also inspires discussion on the
meaning of human rights.
Relational citizenship
A social political interpretation of the rights of the child implies a
different idea of citizenship from a normative one. The latter
assumes the existence of a standard for citizenship. Social work is
often involved with people who fail to meet this standard, for
instance realizing a negotiated upbringing. A human rights
approach should start from the concept of a `relational citizenship’
(Pols, 2004). Relational citizenship sees citizenship as to be developed in the relationship between people. `There is no autonomous
self to be de®ned as apart from others; the self is variable and inconsistent’ (Pols, 2004: 68). The idea is that people cannot be de®ned as
citizens or non-citizens, but rather that citizenship is actualized in
diverse activities and relationships. For instance, from a normative
concept of citizenship, social workers will act as experts who teach
parents how to raise their children. From a relational view of citizenship, social work will share the responsibility for the education of
children with parents and, through dialogue, social workers, parents
and children will come to an understanding of what a good upbringing might be. This orientation affects the position of the social
worker, who is not expected to deliver the solution to a problem,
but who intervenes in the life of the child and who is, because of
this intervention, obliged to enter into a dialogue with the child
and his parents.
Rights as a lever for commitment
In a social political interpretation of the rights of the child, social
work is not aimed at teaching children and parents the nature of
responsibility as an ideal norm. Instead, responsibility is construed
as a learning process that should constantly be renegotiated.
Responsibility relies on the awareness that one has to learn to deal
with situations in society where choices have to be made and
where these choices raise the issue of how individual and social
responsibility relate to each other (Heyting et al., 2002). The
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Roose & De Bie: Children’s rights
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