Sunday, January 19, 2020: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marquis BR Salon 16, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Violence against Women and Children (VAWC)
Carrie Moylan, PhD, Michigan State University,
Annelise Mennicke, PhD, University of North Carolina at Charlotte,
Leila Wood, PhD, University of Texas at Austin,
Adrienne Baldwin-White, PhD, University of Georgia and
Sarah McMahon, PhD, Rutgers University
Background: In the era of #metoo and a sustained focus on sexual harassment and sexual assault on college campuses, social work faculty and staff have partnered with their universities to help strengthen prevention, policy, and response. We have not always looked within our own ranks to examine the ways that social workers and our students are uniquely impacted by sexual harassment. Recent research on sexual harassment and assault in field placements found that about half of social work students reported at least one incident of sexual harassment in field. Students reported that their social work programs largely did not prepare them for sexual harassment that they might experience in the field, creating an atmosphere of silence. Federal policy under Title IX asserts that students should have equal access to educational opportunities without regard to sex. Sexual harassment can create a hostile learning environment that deprives students of their educational opportunities by limiting access, contributing to physical and mental health concerns, and hindering the achievement of professional goals. Sexual harassment frequently co-occurs with other types of oppression and harassment behaviors, including racism and homophobia. LGBT students are among the highest risk for sexual harassment, and students of color may experience more frequent sexual harassment. In order to live up to the social justice ideals of our profession, social work has an obligation to better understand and address the unique ways that sexual harassment manifests within our own settings, organizations, and communities.
Aims: In this roundtable, we aim to: 1) summarize research on social work student experiences of violence and harassment, 2) describe strategies that social work faculty and staff are undertaking to develop and improve policies, prevention, and response to sexual harassment; 3) foster discussion about the role of social work faculty in addressing sexual harassment within our own community; and 4) identify the unique challenges for social workers such as developing policies and skills for responding to client-perpetrated sexual harassment.
Content: Presenters will highlight some ways that social work staff and faculty, along with community partners, have begun to address sexual harassment within the field. First, we will overview research that outlines the extent and nature of sexual harassment in social work and outline on-going research to expand our understanding of sexual harassment in field settings. Next, we will describe efforts to influence university-level policy to improve the organizational response to sexual harassment that happens in field settings. We will also detail efforts within schools of social work and field offices to develop more localized policies and procedures that are federally compliant, victim-centered, and nuanced. Presenters will also describe efforts to work with university prevention staff to develop targeted prevention for social work students that blends traditional sexual assault prevention and awareness concepts with specialized training in developing the professional skills to work with clients who engage in harassment or other boundary-challenging behavior. Finally, the presenters will facilitate discussion with attendees about the facilitators and challenges of engaging in work to improve social work's response to sexual harassment.