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Winter 2024 Issue

Editor’s Note: Justice
By Kate Jackson
Social Work Today
Vol. 24 No. 1 P. 4

It might be argued that justice, in one way or another, is at the heart of every aspect of the social work profession. Not surprising, then, that it’s a thread throughout the issue and a substantial part of a number of stories highlighted here.

In “Redressing Injustice,” truly a feature for our times, Allan Barsky, JD, MSW, PhD, looks at the four key strategies for addressing injustice—canceling, calling out, checking out, and calling in—and the reasons, benefits, and hazards of each. “When faced with bigotry, harassment, or discrimination,” he writes, “we may experience a range of emotions: anger, anxiety, fear, and even a desire for vengeance. In such moments, the decision to call out or cancel someone might lead us to feel a sense of righteousness, believing that we have a moral calling to use these strategies to terminate their harmful behavior.” Instead, he advocates what he calls a reflective approach rooted in social work ethics.

In “Moral Hazard in Social Work,” Frederic G. Reamer, PhD, looks at situations in which injustice may be caused by social workers—when their interventions cause harm to those they’re charged with helping. “Social workers are dedicated and skilled professionals who generally provide services with integrity,” he explains. “On occasion, however, social workers’ actions or the circumstances in which they work lead to moral hazard.” In his Eye on Ethics column, he explores the nature of these actions and situations.

Few topics are as controversial and contentious as issues surrounding reproductive rights. Hot-button topics about which social workers may have strong feelings can lead to conflict in the workplace and interpersonal strife. According to Rachel Fryman, PhD, LCSW, and Daniel Pollack, MSW, JD, social workers aren’t well-prepared to navigate these conflicts. However, there are existing forms of guidance, and the authors explore these in “Reproductive Justice Theory.” In an environment where ethical dilemmas and values conflict related to reproductive health and social work practice are likely to arise, understanding reproductive justice theory within social work’s philosophical and theoretical foundations allows both recent graduates and experienced social workers to consider frameworks already commonplace in social work for ethical decision-making.

Also in this issue are stories on trauma-informed care in social work supervision, the need for mental health support for graduate students, social worker safety, education in suicide prevention, a new treatment for depression, and the Social Work Interstate Licensure Compact.

— Kate Jackson