Identify how the social worker might have used the ecological model to understand Brandon’s situation based on a person-in-environment perspective.
Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse can have a devastating impact on a child and his or her family members. Social workers need to understand how to recognize and respond to cases of abuse expertly and efficiently. With an empathetic and helpful social worker, victims/survivors of abuse can take their first step onto the long road toward healing. For this Assignment, read the case study Working With Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Trauma: The Case of Brandon and then consider what you would do if you were a social worker and had to report a parent of suspected child abuse.
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.
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