Empowering School Personnel for Positive Youth Development: The Case of Hong Kong School Social Workers

By To, Siu-ming | Adolescence, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

Empowering School Personnel for Positive Youth Development: The Case of Hong Kong School Social Workers


To, Siu-ming, Adolescence


This article examines the field experiences of Hong Kong school social workers in empowering school personnel to provide a school setting that facilitates positive youth development. The purpose of school social work is to enable every student to receive the greatest benefit from schooling (Allen-Meares, 2004; Constable, 1999). This simple statement includes both the personal and environmental. The personal aspect is to help young people cultivate their potential to the fullest, achieve healthful personal growth, establish harmonious relationships, and elicit their concern for the community (Nystrom, 1989; Pittman, Irby, & Ferber, 2001). The environmental aspect entails creating a climate in which students can make maximum use of the opportunity to learn and grow (Germain, 1988; Kurtz, 1997). This study focuses on the environmental aspect of empowerment and explores how practitioners interact with school personnel to construct an environment that maximizes students' positive learning experience.

One impediment to the practice of empowerment in this setting is the political environment of the school system. School social workers enter a complex school organization--a vortex of government mandates, social and economic pressures, as well as conflicting values and interests involving school administrators, teachers, students, and parents (Ball, 1987; Blase, 1991; Gronn, 1986; Hoyle, 1986). Practitioners have to cooperate with all stakeholders to maintain the proper functioning of schools; they also need to wrestle with contradictory opinions and clashing demands (Dupper, 2003; Harris & Franklin, 2004). While the interplay of power in the school system is so complicated and the school setting could be better perceived as a political arena in which different actors struggle with political forces, it seems school social workers have to fight for survival in order to initiate system change on behalf of students.

School social work is commonly regarded as an auxiliary service in the education sector. Rendering service in a "host" setting in which social work is not the dominant profession, practitioners may complain of feeling isolated and vulnerable when they are perceived as outsiders and when their work is under scrutiny by school personnel (Dupper, 2003; Harris & Franklin, 2004). They may encounter an "identity crisis": whether to be loyal to the school they serve or to the social work profession that is the source of their ethical beliefs and professional expertise. Role conflicts and power struggles may thus occur between workers and other staff (Lee, 1983; Rees, 1991). Unless practitioners can consolidate their position through political understanding and skills, as well as by strategically handling relationships with different parties, the objectives of empowerment are unlikely to be attained in a school setting.

In Hong Kong, school social work service has existed for more than 30 years, and the policy of "one school social worker for each secondary school" was implemented in 2000. Although literature on local school social work gives little account of the political dimensions in this service (Chan, 1997), the working lives of practitioners provide some insights into this area. Ma (1992) and Ching (1998) consider local school social workers to be under great stress while interacting with the school system. Other studies suggest that practitioners may be treated as "aliens" in a school setting, as they and school personnel are from different sectors that may have clashing ideologies, and they often find it difficult to protect the welfare of students while maintaining good rapport with school personnel (Chan, 1979; Law, 1981; Wong, 1983).

These findings imply that local practitioners are in a complex political environment. Is the practice of empowerment in the field of school social work simply empty rhetoric? The present article examines how practitioners use various strategies to interact with school personnel to carry out empowering practices in the school setting. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Empowering School Personnel for Positive Youth Development: The Case of Hong Kong School Social Workers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.