As times passes and the circumstances faced by different people are diversifying and becoming more complex, there are different directions that catches the time, efforts and interest of social work specialists. The current issue of Revista de Asistenţă Socială is concerned with two of such directions. On one hand, some of the social workers practitioners and theorists feel the need to re-assert certain theories, re-address certain themes and subjects which had been debated before and are already taken-for-granted. Even though, re-discussing or dwelling on the same issues still improves the knowledge-base of those areas of interest and help professionals in their practice. Here we can include the articles of following authors as: Andrea Juhásová, Zuzana Mališková, Monica Alexandru, Gabriel Oancea and Mihai Micle, Steven Cutler and Lynne Hodgson, Andreea Birneanu, and Yariv Vinzer and Maria Roth. The second direction refers to the novelty of the subject addressed or the newly identified niches in the social work interventions. Here we should include the articles written by the following authors: Ana Ivasiuc, Einav Rosh and Livia Popescu, Mihai Bogdan Iovu et al., Cristina Gavriluţă, Maria Lorena Tăruş and Marius Vulpe, Patricia Runcan, Cristiana Marc and Claudia Oşvat, and Valentina and Octavian Rujoiu.
In her article, while referring to the Slovakian system, Juhásová reminds us about the importance of social psychological training in the schooling of future social workers. With this in mind, the author revealed that changes undergone in the curricula of her department impacted negatively students’ education. She points out the fact that through such training modules, the students had the opportunity to exercise communication, cooperation and social interaction. The elimination of these trainings might prove fatal and rob students from acquiring the ability to reflect on their own experience and make any contribution to the groups they are part of.
Mališková considers that the development of ethical skills is just as important as the teaching of practical skills in the education of future social workers due to the fact that the former ones are helping social work professionals in the ethical decision-making process. Considering this, the article presents a research aimed at identifying the differences in ethical decisions and the manner in which the social workers justify them in relation with certain factors: gender, personal value orientation, education of respondents, completed field of study, duration of work experience. Even if the article presents the study performed in Slovakia, the author’s recommendations might be applicable in other countries as well. So, the authors asserts the idea of creating practice centers, supported by the social work schools and social services, where students will have more opportunities to internalize the social work values while under professional supervision and to exercise individual models of ethical decision-making that might be used afterwards in their practice.
After a review of the different perspectives on empowerment, Ana Ivasiuc focuses on presenting the operationalisation and measurement process of the term. The framework she recommended was experimented with in a community development project put by into practice by a Roma NGO in Romania whose objective was to empower Roma communities in Romania in influencing and monitoring the local agendas. The findings of the study were that the term of empowerment can be operationalised just in a very specific defined context.
The article co-authored by Gavriluţă, Ţăruş and Vulpe presents the researched carried out at Iassi Penitentiary during a two year period (2010-2012) within the COPING European Project. The study highlighted a number of factors that influence the inmates' relationship with their children and families. The authors identified three categories of resilience factors: individual factors as personality, ability to access services, family factors – referring both to nuclear and extended family – and community factors as neighbours, social services etc. The authors draw attention to the fact that each and every one of these factors is important in the social reinsertion of inmates upon their release from prison and one slip can steer the inmate in the wrong direction.
The article authored by Monica Alexandru realises a descriptive analysis of the pieces of Romanian legislation and the provisions of international documents that approaches the child labor exploitation phenomenon. Furthermore, on one hand the author makes the distinction between light work and labor exploitation and on the other makes the connection between child labor exploitation and child trafficking. The article comprises a secondary data analysis of the statistics published by National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons for 2007-2011 years regarding the proportion of minor victims within the larger trafficking victims population.
Oancea and Micle analyze succinctly some developments recorded in the field of probation in terms of assisting and controlling persons in conflict with the criminal law. The article is mainly focused on the Anglo-Saxon countries such as Canada, USA and the UK, considered by the authors as countries with a relevant tradition in community treatment of offenders.
Considering the predictions about the global prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) for the decades to come and the widespread familiarity with AD and the recognition of its symptoms, Cutler & Hodgson presents the findings of a study concerned with the impact on the psychological well being of persons as a result of cognitive functioning and worries about developing dementia. The data were collected over an 11-year period (in 2000, 2005 and 2011) from two different sample groups of respondents with age between 40-60 – the first group consisted of respondents having a parent diagnosed probably with AD and the second was a matched group with no such parental history. The psychological well-being was four widely used indicators: depression, stress, life satisfaction, and mastery. Without exhausting the subject, the authors pointed out indeed that greater concerns and worries about developing AD has a higher detrimental effect on the psychological well-being of the respondents.
There had been recorded a series of articles and books on the subject of nursing lately. Rosh and Popescu assert that in a cultural diversity society as the Israeli one, the caregivers are often exposed to different cultures and they make decisions related to planning and adjusting of nursing care to patient’s cultural context. The present article focuses on discussing the theories representing the base of a study that addresses trans-cultural nursing practice in end of life situations in Israel. With their article, the authors contribute to the theoretical as well as practical knowledge-base within trans-cultural nursing.
Yariv Vinzer and Maria Roth explore the attitude of employers regarding the employability of mentally handicapped persons in Israel. In order to do that, the authors designed a qualitative study and interviewed 29 managers and business owners. The aim of the research is to develop an evidence-based understanding of how Israeli society perceives employment of mentally disabled people. As a result, and by taking into consideration the social work aspect, the authors are interested in developing a model of integrating them in the workplace.
The lack of awareness regarding the burnout phenomenon, the inability to recognize its symptoms and the scarce empirical research on this issued provoked Patricia Runcan to undergo a quantitative study. The aim was to identify the main features and types of burnout experienced by a sample of 400 Romanian helping professionals (social workers, psychologists, medical staff and educators) from Timisoara City delivering direct services for clients in Romanian organizations. According to the results, out of all four professional categories the social workers are the most sensitive ones. Even in these circumstances, many of them remain committed to their work; still they can avoid burnout by receiving support, counselling, and professional supervision.
Marc and Oşvat also address the burnout issue in their qualitative study performed on 18 professionals employed by public services and non-governmental organizations from Oradea City which illustrates how social workers experience stress and burnout at the workplace. A series of main factors that explain burnout were identified: excessive professional demands, time constraints, the categories of clients with whom they work, limitations of social work interventions, lack of appreciation and reward for their work, etc. while some of the main identified symptoms were: emotional and physical exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, sleep disorders, diminished motivation and job satisfaction, etc.
A significant contribution to the analyses focused on adolescents’ decision-making process concerning their future after exiting formal education or when entering higher education is made by Iovu et al.’s article which examines future family-related plans adolescents develop when exiting high school in relation to their self-confidence, family, peer group and teacher support. The authors elaborate a cross-sectional quantitative design and the survey was administered through an online platform to 6,611 XIIth graders from all Romanian development regions. There were collected valid answers from 3,524 respondents. Positive correlations among the levels of support reported at individual, family and peer group are identified and the authors believe that this suggests an interdependently network of support. On the other hand, the results show the teacher support is not important in the establishment of adolescents’ future roles.
Starting with a review of the literature on children’s attachment patterns forming, Andreea Birneanu underlines that even in a neglecting or abusing family environment, children still develop attachments towards their own parents, insecure ones. As soon as they are placed in foster care, this insecurity will reflect upon the attachments develop towards the foster family members. The author emphasizes the fact that the foster care system, even if it is considered a failed experiment, offers the framework for a systematic analysis of the manner in which children develop attachment towards their foster parents. So, the transversal study constructed aims to assess the children/adolescents’ representations regarding the attachment styles, their social and emotional experience in relation with foster family members, friends, colleagues and professors. There were performed interviews with 92 children from foster care families from Arad and Timis Counties between October 2010 – November 2011. According to the findings of the research, children in foster care might display emotional or behavioral disorders due to perturbing relations they had with their biological parents and this will affect all the development areas. As a result, it will be really challenging for these children to form securing attachments towards their foster parents.
A new niche for social work services is identified by Valentina Rujoiu and Octavian Rujoiu. The authors performed a literature review on the human-animal bond literature and the trauma caused by the death of someone’s pet, considering the fact that the loss of the pet can led to emotional suffering depending on the degree of involvement and commitment to their companionship animal. The authors had pointed out also the role social workers can have in supporting pet owners in the decision-making process regarding the preservation of the pet’s life or not or in counseling the pet owners in their grieving process after the loss of the four-legged friend.