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Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

Social workers should cooperate with clients to understand their problems and intentions. In this paper, attention is paid to Brandon, a 12-year-old boy who survived his father’s sexual abuse at the age of 6 and experiences post-traumatic stress disorder at the moment (Plummer et al., 2014). There are many adolescents with similar problems in social work practice, and the task is to support and promote welfare with time. The ecological model will be applied in this analysis to explain Brandon’s behavior at micro/mezzo/macro levels and identify the challenges for a social worker and the strengths of Brandon.

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A social worker found it effective to work with Brandon using the trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy approach. Its main idea is to address the emotional and mental health needs of patients who survived traumas. Sexual abuse and violence are sources of post-traumatic stress and depression. Brandon was diagnosed with both disorders, and the goal of a social worker was to establish a favorable environment for Brandon to express feelings and control negative behaviors (Plummer et al., 2014). With time, the patient starts talking to his mother and sharing his trauma to comprehend what he does right and wrong.

Ecological Model

The ecological model is frequently used by social workers as a possibility to develop strategies and influence the client system through psychological and social factors. According to Holt et al. (2011), the ecological perspective aims at examining human interactions within a social environment at different levels. The ecological perspective is characterized by the possibility to understand human behavior through recognizing “individuals’ and individual family systems’ functioning within their environments” (Zastrow et al., 2019, p. 32). The social environment is one of the key ecological terms that describe human interactions and conditions under which people communicate and cooperate.

In the social environment, people are constantly involved in certain behaviors and decision-making processes that can be characterized through the prism of three systems. Zastrow et al. (2019) define a system as a set of elements at micro, mezzo, and macro levels. At the micro-level, a person should understand individual roles and activities within a particular setting. In case of Brandon, a social worker should help to understand what hurts him and how to cope with the problem, focusing on the role of a son or a friend. Physical and psychological development needs to be promoted to explain that there is no Brandon’s fault in such treatment of his father. Cooperation between a social worker and a child at the micro-level may include the discussion of the circumstances under which Brandon makes decisions or interact with peers.

At the mezzo-level, attention is paid to the relationships developed in Brandon’s family. This part of the environment includes different social groups or a family where individuals are identified as a part of a community. A social worker can recommend Brandon to play with peers and participate in school activities in order to observe how other people behave and compare personal abilities and knowledge. The conditions under which the trauma was made, the reaction of the mother, and the outcomes of the father are discussed. However, Zastrow et al. (2019) also underline the worth of nonverbal communication. In this case, Brandon could use his narrative writing skills and assess recent changes.

Finally, the macro-level covers the impossibility of the community to protect Brandon and children with similar problems. At this level, Zastrow et al. (2019) suggest focusing on the impact of larger groups on patients’ development. To help Brandon, a social worker may offer visiting support groups where people share their experiences and use collective power to cope with emotional stress. There are many services that children and adolescents may use to stabilize their conditions and see how other people cope with similar problems. It is also possible for a social worker to promote cooperation between Brandon and his teachers. Many educators understand the worth of a link between peers and recognize the outcomes of child abuse. Additional time for analysis, special assignments, and physical contact can be improved in regard to Brandon.

Strengths and Challenges of Assessment

One of the major strengths the social worker could miss in the assessment of Brandon and his mother is his possibility to complete a narrative, mentioning the details of his experience, emotions, and attitudes toward parents. The mother also provided a supportive space, which serves as a solid contribution to Brandon’s recovery. Instead of focusing on his communication skills, the social worker could develop some written interventions. The point is that the process of socialization that usually occurs in childhood plays an important role in understanding appropriate language and values (Zastrow et al., 2019). Brandon was challenged by his father’s behavior and got access to wrong knowledge and inappropriate human interactions. Another challenge for a social worker is the impossibility of establishing a dialogue between the rights of children and parents in regard to human rights (Roose & De Bie, 2008). Brandon knew nothing about his rights and opportunities, and sexual abuse distorted the truth for the child.

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In general, the situation in which Brandon was discovered is complex. The ecological model is helpful in terms of dealing with uncomfortable feelings and roles that were not followed. However, it is necessary for a social worker to help the client at different levels simultaneously to fulfill the hole in socialization and communication process that was created several years ago. The child could not talk and use his feelings to the father as an explanation of his behavior. As a result, at this moment, the social worker is challenged by the necessity to explain the worth of human rights, children’s rights, and parental responsibilities.


Holt, N., Kingsley, B., Tink, L., & Scherer, J. (2011). Benefits and challenges associated with sports participation by children and parents in low income families. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 12(5), 490–499.

Plummer, S. B., Makris, S., & Brocksen S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Social work case studies: Foundation year. Laureate International Universities Publishing.

Roose, R., & De Bie, M. (2008). Children’s rights: A challenge for social work. International Social Work, 51(1), 37–46.

Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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