Gender Matters: Infusing a Gender Analysis into the “Healthy Development of All Youth” Grand Challenge

social work journal cover 0ct0ber 2019 cropped 3The Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative, led by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, invites social work researchers to direct their work toward society’s most pressing problems—problems for which solutions are just out of reach. The grand challenges initiative addresses concerns in the areas of individual and family wellbeing, having a stronger social fabric, and moving toward a more just society.

The social work grand challenge to ensure healthy youth development necessarily involves a focus on violence prevention, including the prevention of sexual and dating violence during adolescence. The experience of sexual and dating violence is associated with numerous and often long-lasting detrimental mental, physical, and social outcomes, many of which this grand challenge seeks to prevent. Although evidence shows that gender is a critical axis of identity to consider in violence prevention research and practice efforts, gender is not a central lens applied in the field’s approach to such issues within this grand challenge.

An article in the journal Social Work, co-published by the NASW and Oxford University presses, articulates a rationale for infusing a gender analysis into understanding sexual and dating violence and conceptualizing effective violence prevention strategies. The authors describe gender-transformative (GT) approaches to sexual and dating violence prevention, a promising practice for both ensuring the healthy development of youths and reducing violence perpetration by focusing on engaging boys and young men. Additionally, the authors discuss the potential for GT strategies to be used in prevention efforts targeting adolescent social issues more broadly.

Finally, authors call for practitioners and researchers focused on healthy youth development to apply a gender analysis in their efforts and articulate concrete ways to do so.

The authors of the article are: Laurie M. Graham, PhD, assistant professor, School of Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore; Erin A. Casey, PhD, professor, School of Social Work and Criminal Justice, University of Washington, Tacoma; Juliana Carlson, PhD, associate professor, School of Social Welfare, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

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The journal Social Work is a benefit of NASW membership. It is available online or, at a member’s request, in print. Children & Schools, Health & Social Work and Social Work Research are available by subscription at a discounted rate for NASW members, either online or in print. You can find out more about the journals and subscriptions at this link.

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