SRV in the News – April 17th, 2012

Due to the fact that it has been some time since I posted my last entry, I will leave several links here for you to view with a brief elaboration of the SRV themes they touch on:

The topic of elder abuse and exploitation is explored in this upcoming documentary. Previously I have posted about the devaluation that seniors face in our society. Unfortunately, it appears that practices such as the ones described in the above trailer are becoming more and more common, especially during periods of financial hardship.

In this article we see elderly people placed in the historic negative role of ridicule, as well as the role of child. Marc has previously posted about robot teddys for the elderly, and the use of robotic seals can be seen in much the same vein. The SRV theme of imagery is important in providing us with an understanding of the damage that such an object can bring. While the servers themselves may be well intentioned, the image damage for the elders who live in nursing homes that use robotic animals is truly devastating.

There has been mixed reaction in Ontario to the use of “martial arts blockers” in a class for autistic children in Barrie. In our most recent meeting of the Southern Ontario SRV Study Group, we discussed how such a practice can block efforts towards interpersonal identification of students with autism by placing them in the very negative role of menace.

Steve Tiffany

Posted on April 17, 2012 at 8:45 pm by stevetiff · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

3 Responses

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  1. Written by Janet Klees
    on April 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm
    · Permalink

    Hi Steve,

    I am puzzled as to how there can possibly be a “mixed” reaction to the use of matrial arts blockers! Here is part of a letter that I had written to the school board about this matter:

    I have watched the CTV news excerpt about staff supporting students with disabilities carrying “blockers” when they are moving about their daily activities. I think that well-intentioned desires to “protect” staff has taken off in a direction that has many very negative consequences. The questions that come to mind are: Does the percentage of the time that these blockers are used justify the fact that they are carried all of the time? What kind of negative imagery is associated with these students when these visible items are seen all of the time and convey the message that this student is violent and out of control? How do staff in all other parts of the province think about their students, provide good support and not require such extreme safety measures? If the public sees that the staff of so fearful of their students that they must carry such extreme protection, what does this mean for the safety of the public? How can other people possibly see the positive qualities and potential roles of the students when the overwhelming image is one of violence and the need for control? Does this school have such a high percentage of students who require extra support, or do one or two students have greater difficulty and all of the students become tainted with the same reputation?

  2. Written by stevetiff
    on April 21, 2012 at 10:06 am
    · Permalink

    Hello Janet,
    Thanks for your reply, and for posting part of the letter that you sent to the school board. I strongly agree with your points about public perception, the image of the students and the obvious pandering to what we might call the “lowest common denominator”. Sure, there might be one or two students who have presented you with challenges, so does this mean all your staff and students carry martial arts blockers?

    Is this perhaps a manifestation of the modern school system as well? In my experience segregated classes haven’t gone away, and in many cases have popped up in slightly different forms, i.e. the new “autism classes” or “behavioural classes”. In some cases, the children with the most challenging emotional and mental health issues are placed in the same class. Many of these students have anger management issues after various traumatic experiences. It seems to belie all common sense to place all these children together in the same classes, but increasingly, this seems to be the case.
    As for the “mixed reaction”, I base this comment on the comment section of the Star article. This isn’t a very scientific method of judging the reaction to the article, but a significant number of respondents support the measure. I’ve posted some examples below:

    “Angry enough to write
    This article made me angry enough to respond. I support the blockers for the simple reason that they protect the staff in a necessary and safe way, WITHOUT restraining and harming the students. PLEASE bear in mind that this article is incomplete and lacks much significant information. As a parent of children in the Simcoe County School Board, all is not as this article makes it appear. Our staff provide BEYOND EXCELLENT service to ALL students. Oh yeah… then there are the injuries that I have personally witnessed to someone near and dear to me – eye injuries, concussions, and head-to-toe bruises. Every day working with CERTAIN students poses a significant risk to the health and safety of the dedicated staff who work in these classrooms. Get the facts… this article doesn’t provide them”.

    “Finally a picture of the problem!
    It’s SO EASY to make comments and tell others what and how to do but when your day is spent being abused and bullied by out of control students, you need to protect yourself. Special Ed IS a priority (@Publius72) but parents and people OTHER than teachers think the educational system can wave a magic wand and make THEIR KIDS better! The violence that teachers and ed assistants endure is a result of BAD parenting to begin with. And it’s THOSE parents who expect the school to step in and right their children. Oh sure, schools could but the methods would be questioned and complained about……It’s truly a shame that those who complain know nothing about TEACHING and DEALING WITH Sp.Ed. kids. It is the most misunderstood strata in all of education”.

    As you can see, there are people out there who feel strongly that it is the human service worker that needs to be protected, not the student.

    Thanks for expanding our discussion!

    Steve Tiff

  3. Written by Emily R
    on April 28, 2012 at 11:29 pm
    · Permalink

    I am enrolled in a class that deals with devaluation within society and I find this topic fascinating. This was a very eye-opening topic. In my class and the Wolfensberger Social Role Valorization text, we have learned that people who fall outside the social “norm” such as those with disabilities and our elders must struggle to be seen as competent. It is a shame that the staff in these nursing homes are encouraging giving stuffed animals to their residents, believing they are in their second childhood. This affects the view of them within the society heavily. They are adults. They have lived long enough and have had enough experiences to justify that. Treating them like children by giving them a “fur real pet” simulation toy of a seal is disrespectful. According to Wolfensberger, a social role is “A combination of behaviors, functions, relationships, privileges, duties, and responsibilities that is socially defined, is widely understood and recognized within a society, and is characteristic or expected of a person who occupies a particular position within a social system” (Wolfensberger, 2004, p. 25). Their social role is being diminished into a child state and makes them seem incompetent and weak. This allows others to see them as vulnerable and this may be what is causing families to feel the need to take money from them. If it was someone who was “valued” that this was happening to, many would see it as wrong. However, since the elderly are seen as devalued or on death’s doorstep, people see it as okay, which truly sheds a sad light on society and its values.
    Wolfensberger, W. (2004). Social Role Valorization. Syracuse, NY: Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership and Change Agentry.

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