The Street Kid
Shanda is an African American girl who is part of a street gang and who at one stage had several tumours removed from her arm. Obviously her health problems made it difficult for her to assimilate herself into society which was already fraught with considerable problems mainly due to the rough life which African Americans youths lead in this area.
The judge who heard her case for assault recommended that she seek medical treatment for her substantial health problems, a lenient attitude to take which was rather commendable in the circumstances. Nothwitstanding all this, Shanda continued experiencing problems also largely due to the fact that her parents were quais divorced and did not provide her with the backing which one would expect from a normal family.
The relationship between Shanda, her mother and her probation officer is also very interesting as one can observe this first hand. The probation officer wants Shanda to work on her various problems and address the issues of appearance, dress, birth control amongst others as these are hampering her possibility to improve her life. Shanda’s relationship with her mother is also not very good as she obviously blames her for her situation in being almost alone and without parental support. This leads Shanda to sink even more deeply into the mire and she cannot actually improve her own situation if she does not really try hard enough to do so. The clashes between Shanda and her mother are poignant and obviously make her potential for recovery much harder in certain aspects.
Shanda has various problems which will continue to get worse if they are not addressed quickly enough. First of all she is in denial about her problems especially the substance abuse problem as well as the gang membership. She can enter into violent situations and these obviously will not help her situation especially if she is faced with teachers and other peers who wish to assist her.
Shanda is rather enclosed in herself and is not observant of the situations around her which are having a dire effect on her life. She needs to start getting a grip on herself and also assess her situation better, The probation officer can also provide valuable tips to Shanda to start working and have a decent job to begin moving away from her violent lifetsyle and appreciate life more.
Shanda does seem to be a strong personality however and that is one of the strengths which can perhaps play in her favour. Another of her strengths is that she is still young and has quite a lot of time to begin assessing and correcting her lifestyle which is damaging her present situation.
Denial of a problem is the worst part of acceptance and in Shanda’s case, this obviously needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Motivational interviewing and ther similar tactics can be used to gain relative groundwork and improve Shanda’s situation no end. She also needs to establish a better rapport with her mother who does not ina ny way mean to harm her but is trying her best to make it out of a difficult situation.
Identification of problems – addressing of the problems
The first thing I would do if I were Shanda’s social worker was to come up with a rigorous programme to keep her as far away from vices as possible. I would definitely accompany her to the doctor’s to examine the tumours on her hands and to immediately address those health problems.
I would then arrange for motivational interview sessions on various aspects of life in order to be able to gain a better perspective of Shanda’s life and her problems. These obviously include the denial aspect which is the most troubling problem and which is creating all sorts of complications for Shanda (Campbell 2010).
The lack of family atmosphere is also a pressing issue and is one which needs to be addressed too. Here I would attempt to initiate longer sessions with Shanda’s mother and enable them to build up a rapport which is unfortunately missing from their original realtionship. The blame factor also needs to be addressed as in order to move on, as this is creating a situation where Shanda remains stuck and unable to move forward.
I would also attempt to make contact with Shanda’s friends and fellow members of her gand in order to gain more information about the girl. Participant observation is an interesting theory here and this may enable a wealth of experience to be garnered on Shanda’s situation. Lengthy interviews with her friends as well as participation in rituals may help to arrive at the root of the problem which is not always easy without the relevant information and also up to a point due to the fact that Shanda will not speak up more when confronted with issues and problems that she is sensitive to.
Theories on social work with individuals
Zastrow (1998) recommends that social work theories are taken with extreme care and caution although when put into practise, these often have the desired effect. In Shanda’s case the best theory to use is motivational interviewing as through this, it becomes rather easy to guage and assess the problems she is facing and find solutions to these.
Participant observation or putting oneself into another person’s situation can also help immensely. This type of theory is important as it can assess what is going on in social groups without having to resort to more restricted and persistent interviewing.
Motivational interviewing will definitely help and assist Shanda immensely as through this she can gain her self respect and will be able to open up even more through properly guaged questions. This also enables the social worker/interviewer to have a better grasp of the situation in hand and thus will enable him/her come up with the appropriate strategies to solve Shanda’s inherent problems.
With participant observation, it is not only Shanda who will gain but also her other peers who will perhaps realise that they are faced with a situation which is of no particular gain to them.
Counselling can also be used here as several youths find themselves immersed into serious problems such as drug addiction, gang culture and substance abuse. Youths of Shanda’s age need guidance and cannot be left to rot by the wayside and proper counselling is one of the most important methods for social workers to improve a case situation. Sessions should be short and inspirational and there should be a proper rapport established with intimacy and the ability to discuss certain intimate details also very important.
Conclusion – a combination of counselling, motivational interviewing and participant observation
The Shanda case is a classic example of the emarginated in society sinking ever deeper into the morass. It is important that such cases are dealt with immediately and not left to fester as the situation can only get worse. A combination of theories such as motivational interviewing, counselling and participant observation can obviously be made to work if they are properly applied and treated with caution (Welsh 2009).
Interviewing remains the most important aspect of such a case. The questions asked need to be formulated with great care and the eventual analysis of the results goes a long way to establish the root of the problema and coming up with solutions to that same problem.
Participant observation is also a very intriguing tool but again, if the data collected is not analysed properly, then the results will not be forthcoming. Counselling also continues to be a useful tool but it obviously depends how the affected person reacts to it and how open he or she is to the advice given during sessions.
Shanda’s case as an African American in a marginzlied society is definitely not unique and should be assessed with greater care to enable us to understand how to deal with such situations. Gang culture continues to be a substantial rpoblem for the United States and if this is not solved in the short run we can only expect to see more cases like Shanda’s cropping up creating further headaches for authorities and social workers.
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