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School of Social Work Events Address Issues of Domestic Violence, Poverty

The School of Social Work (SSW) recently held the second annual Patricia and Arthur Modell Symposium on Domestic Violence and the 2011 Daniel Thursz Lecture on Social Justice, continuing a series of events to mark the School's 50th anniversary.

Mark Rank, PhD, MSW, the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, delivered the Thursz lecture Dec. 1 on the topic, "Why Poverty Undermines Justice in America." Rank addressed the accelerating disparities in wealth between upper- and lower-income citizens and the ominous repercussions of the gap.

The Modell symposium, "New Partners, New Strategies, and Game-Changing Innovations," drew nearly 350 participants to consider the impacts of abuse and how to prevent it. The event, held Nov. 9, featured speakers invited because they are "raising awareness, conducting research, and directing programs that are seen as models to address the problem," said Carole Alexander, MA, clinical instructor at the School and former executive director of the House of Ruth.

The symposium's keynote speaker, Victor Rivas Rivers, said he is often compelled to confront the question: "Isn't that a women's issue?" Saying that domestic violence should be everyone's concern, Rivers shared its impact on his own childhood. The harrowing account can be found in his book, A Private Family Matter. The actor and advocate is spokesperson for the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

The Honorable Katie O'Malley, JD, Maryland's first lady and a judge in Baltimore City District Court, shared her viewpoint as a member of the judiciary and as a former prosecutor. She is shown in the photo above.

Regarding a protective order, she said, "It's just a piece of paper." A law passed under the administration of her husband, Governor Martin O'Malley, gives judges the ability to force abusers to surrender their firearms. Beyond that, she said, "A victim needs to know a network of people around them understands what victims are going through."

University of Maryland President Jay A. Perman, MD, brought his perspective as a pediatrician and as a college administrator. He recalled being made aware of the issue as dean of the University of Kentucky (UK)College of Medicine, where he met with Carol Jordan, MA, assistant provost and director of the Center for Research on Violence Against Women. Their collaboration led to the center establishing endowed chairs for women's health and women's mental health in the College.

A speaker during the Modell symposium, Jordan described the work of the center, which has ranged from conducting a women's safety study to developing a bystander project as a tool to prevent intimate partner violence on the campus.

Jorge Srabstein, MD, medical director, Clinic for Health Problems Related to Bullying, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C., called for "a community approach" to halting bullying behaviors, noting the documented negative consequences at age 18 among boys who, as young as age 8, had been perpetrators or victims of bullying.

Ludy Green, PhD, MA, president, Second Chance Employment Services, Washington, D.C., and New York, said her organization has found that "financial independence through meaningful long term careers is a key step to ending domestic violence."

Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, dean of the School of Social Work, said, "Together our presenters have given us hope that we can create an array of services that can help provide options to the egregious crimes against women and children that now occur." He said additional models of intervention are needed to help women, men, families, and couples.

"We must have a more holistic, preventive, strengths-based, and family-centered response" that goes beyond society's current reliance on the legal system, he said.

Barth also paid tribute to the late Patricia Modell for her commitment to the symposium in its inaugural year and her continuing involvement until her health declined. He also expressed gratitude to her husband, Arthur Modell, for his support of the symposium, which "we all hope is an influential event that will help expand and deepen the way we help families involved with domestic violence."

Materials from the fall Thursz lecture and the Modell symposium can be found on the SSW 50th anniversary events page along with information and registration for the spring events. These include the 2012 Clinical Lecture, on Feb. 16 featuring Jerome Wakefield, PhD, DSW, professor at New York University, speaking on the topic of psychiatry and grief; and the 2012 Spring Thursz Lecture by Jared Bernstein, PhD, MSW, an economist and public policy expert who will speak March 9 about the federal budget in this election year.

The Thursz lectures are among a series in honor of Daniel Thursz, DSW, ACSW, a former dean of the School. Members of the Thursz family appear in the photo below with Rank, third from left, and Michael Reisch, PhD, MSW, MA, third from the right, who is the Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice. Rank is also shown at the podium delivering the lecture.

Posting Date: 12/21/2011
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu