Interview with Daniel Jacob: Guest Expert for Live Twitter Chat 5/6/13 at 8PM EST

by Deona Hooper, MSW

***Update***

View Archive Chat:

Join us on May 6, 2013 at 8PM EST on the Social Work Helper Live Twitter Chat with Guest Expert Daniel Jacob on Burnout and Self-Care using the hashtag #SWUnited. Daniel is the founder of Can You Hear Me?, and he is a regular contributor to SWH. Recently, Daniel did an extensive interview on why he created his organization, it mission, and who it was designed to help.

Here is an excerpt from his in-depth interview in Social Justice Solutions:

Discuss your blog, Can you Hear Me? Why did you create it, what is the goal of the blog? Who do you hope to reach through the blog?

The Can You Hear Me? blog; words with a voice, a story and an opportunity to inspire others to change for the better! This platform has given me such a great opportunity to express myself in ways that I truly hope are reaching and impacting those in need. The creation of this blog was at a time in my life when I was transitioning from a history and exposure that taught me so much and yet greatly impacted me from a mental health and physical standpoint. By having a forum to share the affects and effects of my own personal and professional challenges and struggles, I was helping myself as much as I hoped I was able to help others. As a social worker who strives to be a work in progress, embracing any and all opportunities to better my quality of  life, while continually adding to my personal and professional self, my hope is to share this with those in the field who are experiencing their own challenges and struggles.

My blog is a continual effort to empower, support, and instruct. When I write, it comes from within. The motivation and inspiration that I use to engage this process is based on my own personal and professional history; one that has and will continue to be my greatest resource.

My hope is to reach anyone in the helping profession in need of support, whether one is a recent MSW graduate unsure of their own skill set or a seasoned veteran who somehow became apathetic, complacent, and doesn’t even know where to start. My hope for those that are available to read this interview is that they will have a better understanding of this model of support, one that is influenced (and understood) by an experiential and empirical journey that is ongoing, Can You Hear Me?  Read Full Interview

Graphic Photos of the Boston Bombing by the Atlantic

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Boston Bombing Suspect CapturedThe nation has been paralyzed as events unfolded from the deadly Boston bombing and the pursuing manhunt for the suspects. Conflicting news reports and misleading headlines did nothing more than to increase panic for major cities in the northern seaboard. I was in the Capitol building in Washington, DC when I found out about the Boston bombing. One of the security check-points had televisions which allowed us to see the destruction and confusion in the aftermath of the explosions.  Who would do this and why were the questions on everyone’s mind. The news outlets have been captivated with learning more about the suspect, but the carnage left by the Boston bombing is akin to a war zone.

The photos by the Atlantic are very graphic which brings me to another point. Is this an indicator of how much violence has been normalized by our society? There was a time when such photos would be unsuitable for public consumption, so am I becoming part of the problem by sharing their existence in order to satisfy this insatiable curiosity to know more? Warning, one of the pictures are not to be clicked on if you are faint of heart. In wartime, journalist  travel with our military to capture the devastation and canonize those moments in time for history.  The Boston bombing provided new revelations on the capabilities of government and the power of a camera phone. Here is an excerpt from the Atlantic:

Several explosions erupted near the finish line of the Boston Marathon today, in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Police are reporting 2 deaths and at least 23 hurt, as authorities begin their investigation. For further details, see coverage on the Atlantic Wire. [16 photos]

Photo Credit of Capture: CBS News

Pastor Rick Warren Author of Purpose Driven Life Grieving Son’s Suicide

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Matthew Warren
This is an undated photo

Pastor Rick Warren, Founder of Saddleback Church and Author of Purpose Driven Life, is grieving the loss of his son who committed suicide at the age of 27 years old.  In an open letter to his congregation, Pastor Warren describes his son, Matthew,  life long battle with depression and mental illness. Autopsy reports revealed that Matthew’s death was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Unfortunately while the family is trying to heal from this tragedy, detractors have been using their son’s death as a way to target and demean the family for their religious beliefs. Pastor Rick Warren has been a polarizing figure due to the Megachurch Saddleback Valley Community Church has become located in Lake Forest, California. Pastor Rick Warren posted this tweet on his twitter account:

You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.

But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.

My heart and my prayers goes out to the Warren family in their time of grief. However, I would be remissed as a social worker if I did not point out that access to quality healthcare and resources did help to prolong Matthew’s life in a safe environment. What often happens to children with mental illness born to parents without access to financial resources to provide structured care, healthcare, and mental health services find themselves in the juvenile justice system and targets for abuse. These children often do not live past their teens, become drug addicted, law breakers, and go undiagnosed.

My prayer and hope for Pastor Warren and his family is that he will use his stature in the future to advocate on behalf of the families who lack the financial resources, healthcare, and mental health service’s access to protect their children.

Happy Anniversary Social Work Helper: Reflecting on the First Year

When I first got the idea to create Social Work Helper, my goal was to provide a place for helping professionals to collaborate, share information, and find support. However, Social Work Helper has changed tremendously from when it was first launched on World Social Work Day, March 20, 2012. The original website provided some information, but it primarily served as the portal to the social network I created specifically designed for helping professionals.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with my Masters in Social Work, it would be one year before I was able to find employment again.  During that year, I felt disconnected from my profession because I could no longer afford to pay membership dues to be a part of a professional association. I scoured various different social networks in order to connect with other social workers or helping professionals that were struggling with unemployment like me.

I found that there were other professionals and social workers who were struggling with unemployment, but I quickly realized Linkedin and Facebook were not the forums to discuss these feelings. It’s not uncommon for potential employers to scour social media sites to check out prospective employees, so I still did not feel comfortable reaching out and posting my struggles with unemployment on these sites. I also found it impossible to connect with these folks through private messaging because current social networks prevent you from reaching out to someone not in your network.

Social Work Helper was created as a niche professional network with enhanced security and an approval process in order to provide a space for support, information, and collaboration to its users. I designed this site to make it easier for like-minded individuals to connect with each other. There is no more out of network or do you know this person, the pre-approval process helps to determine the suitability of users.

As people begin to join, the swhelper mobile app and updated web space were created to make it easier for users to connect on their smartphones. The network also provides a library of resources for users, groups, forums, community blog posts, podcast, and more. Then, the Social Work Helper Magazine was created to further increase visibility for social work, nonprofits, and social good organizations. Social Work Helper has launched other components to include social work chats which is a live Twitter chat using the hashtag #SWUnited.

Social Work and Technology: Fails in Teaching Technology to Students

Social work and technology received a failing grade as a result of a National Institute of Health (NIH) study. The study makes a strong argument in a 2011 journal article which suggests that it’s a violation of the social work code of ethics for social workers who fail to institute evidence based technologies within their practice.

The article also points out how social work professional and educational bodies have not incorporated technology based learning to prepare social workers beyond the use of email communications.

In order for social workers to be competitive in the marketplace, social work and technology must be incorporated into social work education. Nonprofits, public services, and other grassroots organizations are increasingly relying on analytics software, constituent management systems, and social media in order to be more efficient in providing services and information.

The bachelors level or graduate level social work programs do not offer any courses specific to social work and technology. Some academics would argue that social work students are resistant when professors try to include new technologies in existing social work courses. Additionally, academics who want to conduct research on social work and technology are discouraged because published studies tend to be more clinical in nature.

Do you have a passion for social work and technology, and how it can be better used to enhance social work practice? Are you interested in testing theories and experimenting with new technologies to help identify tools for enhancement learning and practice?  Then, let us start an open dialogue. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on whether social work and technology should be a higher priority within the profession.

Here is an excerpt from the NIH study exposing areas for improvement within the profession:

Despite this interest in technology, the attention that the field of social work has given to ICTs (Information and Communications Technology) in research, education, and practice does not match the efforts of other national and international organizations that view ICTs as critical to improving the lives of disadvantaged and disenfranchised persons, and necessary for all forms of civil engagement. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) calls for the integration of computer technology into social work education, but there are no explicit standards for integration or student learning (CSWE, 2008; see also Beaulaurier & Radisch, 2005). Asking other social workers, social work students, and social work educators can easily reveal that many are unaware of the NASW technology standards. A review of syllabi of social work courses will also show that ICTs, beyond e-mail communication, are generally not present in the educational environment. Consequently, social work students are not being adequately prepared in the use of ICTs, which are integral in the workforce today and will become even more important over time (Parrot & Madoc-Jones, 2008).

In this paper, we argue that ICTs are of critical importance to advancing the field of social work. Specifically, they provide efficient and effective ways for organizing people and ideas, offers greater access to knowledge and education, and increases the efficiency and collaboration of our work. This paper takes the position that many aspects of the NASW Code of Ethics (1999) can be advanced through careful and thoughtful application of ICTs. Thus, competencies with ICTs and ICT literacy should be required learning outcomes in social work education and continuing education. This includes having the knowledge and skills to understand and use ICTs to acheive a specific purpose (i.e., competencies), in addition to knowing the major concepts and language associated with ICT (i.e., literacy). Within this framework, this paper identifies specific aspects of the Code of Ethics (1999), showing how ICTs play a critical role in achieving the desired values and principles. Recommendations on how ICTs can be more strategically incorporated in the classroom, along with potential pitfalls, are discussed.

View Full Journal Article below:
https://swhelper.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/nihms-299321.pdf

Social Work and Social Media: Tools for Networking and E-Advocacy

There are lots of resources for individuals who are concerned about the fears and ethical use of social media in practice. However, there does not seem to be an equal amount of resources teaching social work and social media, and how they both can be combined for effective networking and online advocacy.

Technology has given us the ability to remove geographically boundaries and connect with others in way that is still very new to us.  However, this same technology has been exploited by the criminal element which has created many fears in using technology for its full capabilities.

Technology has the ability to create new ways of communication that has been previously denied to those without privilege or wealth such as the ability to self-publish, communication with someone abroad in real-time, and gather/organize resources quickly. How can our profession begin to adopt the technological tools utilized in the business world and adapt them to increase our ability to be more effective on the macro, mezzo, and micro practice levels?

There are instances where social work and social media, depending on your job descriptions and direct practice with clients, must adhere to a stricter standard due to safety concerns for the social worker and client confidentiality.

For those who are working on a policy and community practice level, social work and social media is essential in carving yourself as an expert in your field as well giving you the ability to mobilize resources quickly. NASW-NC gives five reasons why social work and social media is an essential combination to aid social workers in their networking potential which are listed below:

  • Opportunity: Anytime you are around others (virtually or in person), you have the opportunity to meet people and uncover what they make have to offer to your life!
  • Exposure: Have you written new research? Starting a new practice? Found a new technique to share? Networking provides the opportunity to expose others to the wealth of professional knowledge you have, and to be exposed to theirs!
  • Contacts and Relationships: Whether finding a new job, a resource for your clients, or simply someone who simplifies your life; contacts are an essential part of the social work profession. Most business is done through referrals!
  • Finding Common Ground: Everyone enjoys the company of others who are like-minded. Our common interests help ignite our passion for the profession and encourage personal growth.
  • Learning: In the line for breakfast at a NASW-NC Conference, or answering a post on LinkedIn; social workers who participate in networking gather information and ideas at a fast pace! knowledge is power!
  • See more at:

[gview file=”http://careers.socialworkers.org/documents/networking.pdf”]

Also View:
E-Politics.com Online Advocacy

photo credit: Intersection Consulting via photopin cc

Scalia Calls Voting Rights Act of 1965 A Racial Entitlement

by Deona Hooper, MSW

State of the Union
Desiline Victors at the Presidential State of the Union 2013

After opening arguments at the US Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it appears the landmark civil rights legislation is in trouble. Justice Antonin Scalia called the Voting Rights Act a “racial entitlement” which drew large criticism from onlookers as well as other Supreme Court Justices. This statement is especially polarizing after Desiline Victor, the 102 year old African-American woman,  who was in line for six hours to vote in the presidential election 2012. Many Americans, both white and of color, were outraged at the voter restriction legislation put in place by Republican led legislatures in order to reduce democratic turnout in battleground states. Democratic voters of all ages and color went out in record numbers to vote with a vengeance. President Obama won 11 out of 12 battleground states with the exception of North Carolina which was lost with less than 100,000 votes.

Despite a popular vote win with 2.6 million votes over Mitt Romney, many state legislatures retained Republican control or gained a Republican super-majority which means the House, Senate, and Governor are controlled by the GOP. Did the massive lines single to Republicans that the American people will not stand for voter restrictions laws? No, it only singled to them that their plan is working which may bring them the desired effect in another 10 years which is a gerrymandered federal election. The GOP has utilized think tanks for decades planning not only for the next four to 8 years. They were planning for the next forty years to return this country back to the status quo of whites only making decisions and running all levels of government as well as the private sector.

The civil rights movement occurred because it was a joint effort between whites and people of color, and the GOP did not plan for another mass exodus of White Americans in Election 2012 who have embraced equality and diversity for all in this great country.  It’s time for progressives to do more than sign petitions and starting strategically planning for the next couple of decades to restore a balance of power back to our local governments and state legislatures. Will the US Supreme Court seek retribution for the right after upholding the Affordable Health Care Act as constitutional? Stay tuned for the summer block buster for diversity and equality with both DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Voter’s Rights Act of 1965 before the Supreme Court.

Oscar Pistorius Allegedly Murder Girlfriend on Valentine’s Day

by Deona Hooper, MSW

PistoriusOscar Pistorius, Olympic athlete known as the Blade Runner, is sitting in a South African jail awaiting a hearing after being arrested on Valentine’s Day for killing his girlfriend. Reeva Steenkamp, model and law school graduate, was found dead in the runner’s home from a gunshot wound. News reports state that Reeva’s career was beginning to take off with a new reality tv show set to premiere. Reports have described her as a very caring and kind person. As recently as four days ago, Reeva sent out a tweet encouraging her followers to speak out against rape and violence against women. Currently, there are conflicting reports on how this Valentine’s Day tragedy occurred. News reports suggest that Pistorius may have shot his girlfriend accidentally by misidentifying her as an intruder. However, police reports show that there has been prior domestic disturbances at his home. It’s not clear if those disturbances occurred with the recently deceased Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius gained world fame as a double amputee who uses carbon fiber prosthesis to run in the 2012 Olympics. Although, he did not win Olympic gold his participation in the Olympics made history and made him a household name.  Nike has pulled it’s commercial of Pistorius which coin the term “Bullet Out the Chamber” for the advertisement. Only time will tell about how this story will unfold.

View the Tweet by Reeva Steenkamp encouraging others to speak out against rape.

 

Photo Courtesy of  http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/sport/olympics/article3687963.ece

When Will Google Groups Be Upgraded to Google Plus Communities

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Google groups were cutting edge when they were first introduced in the late 1990’s. They allowed large numbers of people to interact while bringing listserv technology to the masses. In comparison to Google Plus Communities, Google groups resemble a covered wagon in need of a twentieth century upgrade. I believe converting existing Google Groups into plus communities will help bolster and further enhance interactions on the new Google Plus social media platform. Most importantly, it will promote enhanced communications for many nonprofits and social good organizations who overwhelmingly utilize Google Groups for intra-organization communications.

I often find myself quietly irritated with Google Groups because they clog up my email account despite using the digest function for various different groups. Visually, Google Groups is unappealing and using my email is still necessary for me to engage without having access to the visually stunning mobile app that Google Plus provide its users.  Also, valuable resources can be lost in a black hole of long conversation streams, and its very difficult to review resources added to your group. If a group member does not see information shared in the moment it was sent, good luck hunting it down later especially if it’s an active group.

Here is an except from article on Forbes Magazine on Google Plus and Google Communities:

But what if Google Plus is just a fad – the next Friendster instead of the next Twitter? Sherman argues it has two killer apps that will eventually draw the public in. The first is Google Plus’Communities feature, which allows groups to form around particular interests. “Three weeks ago, I wouldn’t have said Google Plus was an easy place to meet people,” says Sherman, “but now it’s amazingly different. You can even join the community as a brand, which you cannot do on Facebook, and you can interact with your potential customers, influencers, and people of interest.” Indeed, she points out, “there are a ton of influencers who are concentrating on Google Plus these days.” And as she wrote in a recent blog post, “GooglePlus can give you access to influencers who might not notice you elsewhere…There is a nice spirit of camaraderie that people seldom feel with well-established platforms.” Read More

Which would you prefer?

Google Plus

google-groups-new-ui-2010-2

 

Photo Credits: Google.com

Social Work Practice and Values

I am often asked, What is Social Work? Usually before I can answer, the question is followed up with “Your job is taking people’s kids away right”.  I politely respond by saying social work is providing opportunities to help vulnerable populations increase their outcomes and improve their quality of living.

Often, social workers are envisioned as a woman pulling a child away from their parent’s arms.  Although child protection social workers may need to move a child to a safer place, the goal always is to protect the child from alleged abuse, neglect, or dependency.

Social work practice and values intersect with many aspects of the human condition. Many people may be unaware that child protection social workers represent only one area of practice within the social work profession. Not all teachers work in elementary schools, and not all police officers only work in cities answering 911 calls.  Social Workers can be found in the public sector in areas such as the court systems, schools, health departments, correction facilities, and with law enforcement agencies.

In the nonprofit sector, you may find social workers as community support providers, community organizers, and case managers in the healthcare industry for cancer or hospice patients. Social Workers also work in the private sector managing their own practices, managed care facilities, and running social enterprises.

Also, social workers can be found engaging the political process as lobbyist, policy makers, and elected officials which has been exemplified by the Congressional Social Work Caucus inaugurated in the United States House of Representatives by the 111th Congress.

Don’t Believe the Hype: Social Media Decision Tree Exposed

by Deona Hooper, MSW

smdecisiontree

I was on Twitter yesterday when I came across the social media decision tree seen above that was designed to assist people in deciding where to update their status and the best platform to use. Foursquare, Google Plus, Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook were the identified social media platforms in the decision tree. Upon closer examination, Facebook emerges as the ideal place to post if you are addicted to likes, if you are alright with your parents seeing it, and if it’s not boring. Appropriate social media decision-making tools on what to share and what not share are not based on promoting any particular social media platform over another rather than the effects it will have on yourself, friends, and family. For an example view, “Digital Citizenship Poster for Middle and High School Classrooms”.

In case you missed it, last week, Facebook unveiled its new search tool called social graph which is being hailed as an enhanced search engine for Facebook users. The new tool adds photos, Facebook likes, and status updates that allows Facebook users to conduct searches on what their friends like. Sounds good right?  For some reason, Facebook users are under the assumption that when you give something a thumbs up that its anonymous. Well I got news for you…..it’s not!  For anyone who plans to be a business owner and/or have a professional life, I urge you not use the social media tree above.  You have to ask yourself is this new Facebook search engine designed to enhance your user experience or enhance the ability of those who want to market to you?

Several new articles on Mashable.com exposes exactly how the new Facebook search engine will impact Facebook users. For instance, Facebook can now list for you the profiles of married people who likes prostitutes and link the profiles of their spouses. Want to know who likes racism and where they work?  Well, Facebook has now made it easier for you to find out.  Here is an excerpt of Tumblr Serves Up Hilariously Awful ‘Actual Facebook Graph Searches’:

Time to triple check those privacy settings, Facebook users. As Graph Search slowly rolls out to the billion-strong user base, we’re learning more about the bizarre, and somewhat disturbing, liking habits of users.

Enter the “Actual Facebook Graph Searches” Tumblr page, a collection of surprising results found by using the social network’s fancy new feature. The man behind the Tumblr page, Tom Scott, told Mashable that all the results are legit — though some Graph Search skeptics have raised an eyebrow towards the Tumblr. In the page’s FAQ section, he also claims to have found even more disturbing results that he didn’t share.  Read More

Also View:
How Facebook Graph Search Can Descend to Creepiness

Lance Armstrong: Classic Narcissist or Psychopath Maybe Both

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Lance Armstrong Interview w/Oprah

A media sandstorm was unleashed after Lance Armstrong did his tell all interview with Oprah on her cable network channel OWN this past Thursday night. The cloud of Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs during his seven Tour de France wins has loomed over the cyclist for almost 15 years. However, the allegations are now reality because Armstrong has finally admitted to doping in order to achieve his record wins.

Reporters, sports analysts, and former victims of Lance Armstrong have all used terms such as narcissist and/or psychopath to describe Armstrong’s behavior in conducting and protecting his doping scheme over the past decade. Lance Armstrong has built a reputation that has utilized tactics to literally destroy anyone both in character and financially who questioned, eluded, or reported any of his wrong doings. During  Armstrong’s  interview with Oprah, several videos were aired of Armstrong shaming and showing disdain for those who questioned his seven Tour de France wins.

We have seen this saga play out before with other high-profile athletes accused of using performance enhancing drugs to excel in their respective sport, but what makes this case different? The difference in this case is the manner in which Lance Armstrong went after his detractors. Armstrong and his team of lawyers destroyed anyone who dared to question his integrity. After all, Armstrong created the Livestrong Cancer Foundation in which he made sure the two could not be separated. Many have since stated that Armstrong used Livestrong as a shield because no one wanted to undermine the great work of the foundation. Is classic narcissist or psychopath a fair analysis of his past behavior and lack of remorse as described by many after watching the interview?

“He will give the impression that he is highly accomplished at anything and everything he does. He will always be right no matter what. Even if he is wrong, he will twist the truth so that he can assign blame to anyone or anything other than himself.” Lifescript. com How to Deal with Narcissistic Behavior

“Imagine – if you can – not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.” The Mask of Sanity

View the video clips of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah, and you decide.

Why Bloggers and Businesses Should Invest More Time in Google Plus Than Facebook

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Google Plus, the latest social media platform developed by Google, has made great strides in its effort to compete with Facebook. Facebook may have more users, but its new EdgeRank algorithm has been found to greatly diminish users’ ability to share updates, but don’t fret.  Facebook has a solution to solve this problem for a small fee of course. In the past, many could understand paying a fee to promote content to people outside of your friend list, but now I have to pay to reach my own friends? This is ridiculous! I am going to tell you several reasons why investing your time in Google Plus is better than investing your money into Facebook.

Google is the most widely used search engine on planet earth. What Google  has done and said, “If you use Google Plus, we will promote your content on our search engine over those who don’t”. Do you know how powerful of a search engine optimization tool this is just for using Google Plus? There is no down side to this if you are a blogger or a business owner. Google plus is a very rich and visually appealing platform to use.  They offer Google Pages for your business which is equivalent to the Facebook Fan page.  Additionally, they offer Google Plus Profile Pages which is the counterpart to the Facebook Profile Page. Recently, Google Plus began offering communities which are designed to compete with Facebook groups. Most importantly, I believe the Google Plus mobile app and iPad app are absolutely visually stunning  applications. When you add Google Hangouts on top of all that, could it get any better? Why pay for Skype or Ustream, when you can conduct a Google Hangout with up to twelve people and live stream it using Google Air on Youtube for free? For cost effectiveness and top notch quality, I am one tech geek that is truly impressed with Google’s new suite of products.

As if there couldn’t be more, well there is! By investing time into your Google Plus profile, Google will now integrate your blog posts with your Google Plus profile in search returns. Lets say someone searches for a key word and out of the list of search queries only one post shows up with a picture. Which search return do you think will likely attract the person conducting the search? If you guessed the one with the picture attached, you are right. I have attached an example for your review. This is a first page search query. Don’t believe me,  search for “famous social workers” yourself.

Also View:

Google Plus v Facebook on Mashable.com

famous social workers - Google Search

How Many Dead Will It Take

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Another mass shooting occurred today in Newtown, Connecticut taking the lives of 20 children and 8 adults including the principal, but how many dead will it take before better gun control measures are put in place? Details are still developing, and the identification of the shooter is still sketchy. It is currently being reported that the shooter’s mother worked at the school, and it is currently being reported that the majority of fatalities occurred in her class.

Under our current gun laws, 40% of all guns sales do not require any background checks which can also be purchased online via the internet. Many second amendment defenders argue that guns don’t kill people, and they insist that people kill people. Yet, most victims who are murdered or commit suicide utilize guns as their weapon of choice. As Americans, we need to closely examine the motives of those who oppose reasonable gun control measures. The National Rifle Association (NRA) should not have more power over our elected officials than the will of the American people.  It is disheartening to see the pain and aftermath as the types of events unfold on a weekly basis. I fear that mass shooting are becoming normalized in our society. I fear that our society will implement more responsive actions like active school shooter drills and more law enforcement special response teams instead of implementing stricter gun control laws.

My prayers go out to the families, first responders, medical and mental health personnel who are involved with this tragedy. Photo: State police personnel led children from the school following a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, Dec. 14, 2012. (Shannon Hicks/The Newtown Bee)

View the President’s address to the Nation on this horrific tragedy earlier today:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/H3tYW6P3bY8[/youtube]

NYPD Officer Caught on Camera Performing a Random Act of Kindness

by Deona Hooper, MSW

New York City Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo was caught on camera by an Arizona tourist performing a random act of kindness for a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk with no shoes or socks. According to news reports, the officer went into Sketchers to purchase socks and a pair of all weather waterproof boots for the man who turned out to be a homeless veteran.

The tourist saw him purchasing the boots and followed the officer outside in order to use her mobile phone to capture the above picture. She then posted the picture on the NYPD Facebook page which has gone viral with over 3 million hits. The officer did not know the picture had been taken until it was posted to the NYPD’s Facebook page.  View the news reporting video by Newsy.

Microsoft Offers 14.99 Windows 8 Upgrade to Windows 7 Users

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Microsoft just released the newest version of its windows operating system for $14.99 for current Windows 7 users. Additionally, Microsoft is offering free upgrades to users with a Windows 7 computer less than a year old. To receive the bargain basement Microsoft deal, users will need to provide their activation key for their current Windows 7 operating system during the registration process for the Windows 8 upgrade.   The following  is a Youtube Video to assist you with the upgrade process, and you can visit Mashable.com for more details. Windows 7 Users who do not qualify for the specified time period  are eligible to receive the Windows 8 upgrade at $39.00 regardless of when purchased.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/4glWb6TaxJo[/youtube]

Here is an excerpt from Wired.com on the 10 Best Features of Windows 8:

The wait is over: Windows 8 has arrived. After many, many months of talking about Windows 8, Microsoft officially releases the new operating system on Friday. You can buy an upgrade pack or a new Windows 8 device (including Surface RT) on Oct. 26.

See Also:
  • Wired’s Review of Windows 8
  • FAQ: Windows 8 vs Windows RT
  • Microsoft Surface RT Tablet Review

With the exciting new era for Microsoft comes a huge list of changes to Windows. Not only is the interface totally different, there are several new features and capabilities. Here are our 10 favorites, plus one that gets honorary mention.

Easy Gestures

Windows 8 is the first truly gestural version of Windows. The OS supports intuitive simple touch gestures like swiping in from the left to switch apps and swiping in from the right for the Charms menu. Semantic zoom is another big winner. Whether you’re in the Start Screen or a specific app, like the People hub, you can navigate using the pinch-to-zoom gesture to get a high-level view. For example, you can use semantic zoom in the News app to see all of the news sections available, instead of having to scroll through the app.

Other useful gestures include swiping in from the top of the screen for app-specific commands and settings and dragging an app from the top down to close it out.

Read More

 

Do You Know What to Do If You Think Someone is Suicidal #SWUnited Live Twitter Chat 11/19/12 at 8PM EST

by Deona Hooper, MSW

On November 19, 2012 at 8PM EST, we will have a  live twitter chat to discuss suicide prevention and the social work response. I have attached the link to the National Suicide Prevention website for information and tools for use in practice. Here is the link as follows:  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

@swhelpercom will be moderating the debate using the hashtag #SWUnited with guests @harperlevy and @drbillschmitz

Here is an excerpt from Psycentral entitled “What to do when you think someone is suicidal“:

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S., and the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds. Still, suicide remains a taboo topic, is highly stigmatized and is surrounded by myth and mystery.

One of the biggest — and most destructive — myths is that if you discuss suicide, you’re planting the idea in someone’s head, said Scott Poland, Ed.D, the prevention division director at the American Association of Suicidology and associate professor at Nova Southeastern University. Clinical psychologist and suicide expert William Schmitz, Psy.D., likens it to talking to someone who’s recently been diagnosed with cancer. By mentioning cancer, you’re not forcing the topic front and center. “If someone is diagnosed with cancer, it’s on their mind.” Bringing it up shows support and concern. Similarly, by talking about suicide, you show the person that you truly care about them. In fact, lack of connection is a key reason why people have suicidal thoughts; isolation contributes to and escalates their pain. Do you know what to do if someone is suicidal?

Read More

Update  The Live Twitter Chat on Suicide Prevention and Identification brought to light some interesting perspective. Here are few of the tweets and the full archived discussion is attached.

View Archived Chat: http://storify.com/SWUnited/

Top 5 Social Work Resources You Should Know About

If you like to stay in the know about all things social work, I have the several resources that will help keep you in the know. These five websites will serve as portals into a wealth of  global social work knowledge.  Most importantly, you don’t have to find all this information for yourself because they do it for you. Whether you need information on current events, practice or policy, you definitely need to maintain these sites in your bookmarks.

Here are the Top 5 social work resources that I recommend:

  1. Social Work.Career– This website is maintained by Blogger Dorlee Michaeli who is an MBA and MSW Clinical Social Worker. Dorlee’s motto is “I’m watching twitter, google+ and the web so you don’t have to…” , and she really does. Each week, there is a “Best in Mental Health Series” where she gathers blog post from various social work blogs on the net and compiles them for you. Dorleem Blog covers an array of topics including technology, career development, social work education and more.

  2. Social Work Blogs– Looking for a Social Work Blog or want to list your social work blog, then look no further. Social Work Blogs is your primary directory for social work blogs on the net. Don’t have time to read every social work blog, they give weekly recommendations on some good reads.

  3. Social Work News-Do you want to know about social work news around the globe or in your country? If so, Social Work News needs to be on your desktop. It keeps me informed daily about issues all over of the world. Without Social Work news, you would have to  search for social work specific news yourself.

  4. Community Care UK-Community Care UK is very informative especially if you are interested in learning more about practices in the United Kingdom to compare and contrast policy, practice, research, and initiatives by the British government.

  5. Trabajo Social- Trabajo Social is a blog out of Spain which provides a portal to other social work resources. They also have a library of podcasts in which I can’t use because it’s in Spanish. However, there is a list of blogs which are very informative with Google Translate.

If Only Monsters Actually Looked Like Monsters….

After having a twitter conversation with a social carer in the UK, I was made aware of some breaking news that is taking the United Kingdom by storm. According to BBC News,  Sir Jimmy Savile (Knighted), whose fame rivals that of Sir Elton John here in the States, has been raping and abusing under-aged girls over the course of four decades. The police have at least eight recorded instances of allegations against him. Yet, Sir Jimmy Savile was granted the privilege of dying from natural causes at the age of 85 years old without ever answering for his monstrosities, and it appears his crimes were protected until one year posthumously. He was known as a celebrity, philanthropist, and charitable giver. Does this story sound familiar?

Does this story sound reminiscent of our own recently dishonored philanthropist, the Great Jerry Sandusky of Penn State University. For those who may not be familiar with this particular monster, Mr. Sandusky, under the guise of a honorable football coach of a highly esteemed educational institution, used a charitable organization to identify vulnerable children to rape over the course of decades.

As children, we are taught to fear the boogie man, the big fury monster with big teeth, and the red devil with horns and claws. We do ourselves and our children a disservice by failing to arm them with the knowledge to keep us all safer. More precisely….. Evil is beautiful, charismatic, and alluring while appearing to be kind, genuine, and caring.

Predators are attracted to and they embed themselves within charitable and public institutions tasked with serving the most vulnerable in order to have unchallenged access to their prey. This is further evidenced by the recent revelations on the tracking of pedophiles posing as Scout Masters within The Boy Scouts of America. Currently, there are no mechanisms in place to identify or screen these predators from employment such personality test or psych evaluation. If you have ever felt like you work in an evil environment or felt confused by a relationship, your instincts are your best ally in alerting yourself to possible dangers.

We ignore our instincts because our eyes deceives us, and we often are confused by predatory actions. When you feel confused about someone’s intentions or confused about their character, this is your proof to run. Listen! Listen! Listen! Don’t doubt or dismiss the feeling you have that something is not right. We are all built with spider senses to alert us of the pitfalls we should navigate away from. Quit trying to analyze the intentions and pay more attention to their actions.

Here are a few resources that I would like to leave you with:

  1. Psychopath: Mask of Sanity
  2. Peer Abuse and Adult Survivors of Abuse

For sources on  Jerry Sandusky and Jimmy Savile view these links.

Message in a Bottle…An Epiphany that Probably Won’t Reach Its Intended Recipient

“Message in a Bottle” was not only a romantic Kevin Costner movie, but once upon a time was a hopeful form of communication. Someone would have an epiphany or reflective moment that desperately needed to find its way to the target of their affection. A message in bottle was then thrown into the ocean hoping that fate will stir the bottle to its intended destination. Before telegraphs, telephones, and the internet, message in a bottle was the hope of connecting with someone outside of your reach, but are we still using a “message in a bottle” mentality in a technologically advanced society?

The internet is just as vast as the sea because the possibility of destinations seem limitless. Today, “message in a bottle” has been upgraded to a Tumblr, Facebook Note, Blogger, WordPress Blog or some form of electronic post.

There has been instances of calls for help, cries for support, profound confessions, or enlightened reflections which may or may not be heard depending on the number of followers, friends, or search engine optimization that allow search engines to find you in this vast world wide web. Does the profoundness of the message correlate with its ability to be heard?

Is Honeybooboo’s preferences more profound than someone battling Cancer who is sharing their experiences in hopes of helping someone else because her medium to be heard is bigger?  As a matter of fact, I would argue the less profound it appears, there is wider appeal. As social workers when we exercise the “message in a bottle” mentality, we lessen our ability to help someone else. It requires those in need to find us in a sea of darkness instead of being that Beacon of Light.

What can we do about it? Social Work Helper may not provide the be all solution for everyone, but it is my attempt at navigating the seas by offering a beacon.  As a Google news outlet with rss feeds placed in the top news aggregator mobile apps around the world, anyone can submit an original blog post or republish a blog post from their own blog to Social Work Helper to help expand their readership. How is this helpful to you? When you take your valuable time to share your dreams, triumphs, failures, and experiences that knowledge should reach as many people as possible in order to help advance someone else.

If you are trying to develop your own magazine, than Social Work Helper may not be the right platform for you. However, if you primary goals are increasing your professional profile, increasing awareness on issues, and reaching as many people as possible, than publishing on this vehicle will help expand your reach.

Work with me in creating a platform that  will better support professional or student development and relationships without having to randomly bump into each other on the world wide web.

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