news from the research office
Welcome to the School of Social Work Research News
Violence by parents, intimate partners, adult children, and others results in serious, long term harm, and even death. University of Michigan School of Social Work faculty members' research aimed at understanding, preventing and responding to violence is changing the status quo in the U.S. and globally. This work helps families survive and thrive, and stops the cycle of violence. There is hope and there is much work yet to be done.

I invite you to learn more by reading these stories in our newest research newsletter.

Joseph Himle,
Associate Dean for Research and Professor, School of Social Work
Intervention in Intimate Partner Violence with Latina Women and Their Children
It is unfortunate but true: twenty-four percent of U.S. women report severe intimate partner violence (IPV) during their lifetime (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Latina women report the highest levels of IPV, with 50% experiencing lifetime IPV. The majority of nonfatal IPV occurs at home. U.S. children (approximately 15.5 million each year) are frequently eyewitnesses to IPV events.

Children who witness violence in the home are more likely to exhibit adjustment problems including anger, anxiety, aggression, hyperactivity, managing social relationships, difficulties with school performance, and oppositional behaviors.

Associate Professor Andrew Grogan-Kaylor is the  Co-principal investigator of a program delivered in Spanish, the Latina Kids' Club for mothers and their children who have experienced IPV. This community-based intervention for women and children whose primary language is Spanish, and who have been exposed to intimate partner violence, helps women and children heal and enhances the children's coping and skills-- helping to help reduce the downstream consequences of family violence.

Empathy: There's an App for That
Professor Richard Tolman worked on a team to create a new app, " RAKi" (Random Acts of Kindness), launched on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Android Market. RAKi helps teens and younger children learn how to be kinder and more empathetic through nine mini-games, all designed and tested with teens. "The games help build kids' empathetic abilities and contribute to more willingness to help others," says Tolman. "We hope that the game will be downloaded and played by lots of teens."
Richard Tolman
University of Wisconsin Distinguished Alumnus Professor Richard Tolman received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work. The U-W alumni advisory board recognized his efforts to engage men as allies to prevent violence against women.
2017 Doctoral Research Award
Vincent Fusaro and Janelle Goodwill received the Doctoral Poster Award at the School of Social Work's annual Research Day. Fusaro was awarded for his poster " Children in Immigrant Families & Economic Hardship ", and Goodwill for her poster, " How Do Young Black Men Cope with Life Stressors and Mental Health Challenges? " Fusaro's research looked at immigrant family participation in public programs, while Goodwill studied in-group differences in mental and health coping strategies in young Black men.
Carrie Disney Receives U-M Research Award
Carrie Disney is a 2017 recipient of the U-M Research Technical Staff Recognition Award , The award honors staff members for important contributions to the U-M research mission through exceptional performance and by going beyond the ordinary fulfillment of position duties. 
The Strong Evidence Against Spanking
Associate Professor Andrew Grogan-Kaylor and Elizabeth Gershoff (University of Texas) authored the most complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking " Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses." The "study of studies" reviewed 50 years of corporal punishment research and found that when children are spanked by their parents, the risk of developing aggression, anxiety or mental health problems is higher than for children who are not spanked.

The authors also looked at a subset of studies that compared spanking with physical abuse, and found that both were linked to bad outcomes "that are similar in magnitude and identical in direction." The researchers concluded "there is no evidence that spanking does any good for children and all evidence points to the risk of it doing harm. "This landmark work has received more than 100 mentions in the English language news media, along with many mentions in Spanish and Chinese language news media.
Understanding Professionals' Responses to Domestic Abuse Survivors in Child Custody Cases
Our society's first responses to the widespread and serious problem of interpersonal violence (IPV) were to build shelters for survivors and arrest perpetrators. We have learned that additional responses are necessary - especially ways to prevent survivors from losing custody of children to an abusive ex-partner or from unsafe child visitation arrangements. IPV research, practice and legal policy now work together to provide help and protection to survivors and their children.

With funding from the National Institute of Justice, Professors Daniel Saunders, Kathleen Faller and Richard Tolman examined professionals' decisions that can lead to dangerous outcomes in IPV child custody cases and offer implications for policies, practice and future research.

Helping Parents
Associate Professor Shawna Lee works to support parents during pregnancy and the perinatal period. She is the Principal Investigator of the Engaged Father Program, a program that provides fathers with knowledge and resources about infant health and wellbeing through home visitation and parent education.

The Engaged Father program is operated in collaboration with the Genesee County Healthy Start program, a home visitation program that supports low-income women during pregnancy and the first two years of their child's life.

Lee also leads the Parenting in Context Research Lab which focuses on promoting family resilience through research and community-based interventions.
Taking a Stand Against Corporal Punishment
The research is clear: corporal punishment is harmful to children and associated with numerous negative outcomes across childhood, adolescence, and even into adulthood. ( Gershoff, Grogan-Kaylor, 2016).

Associate Professor Shawna Lee served as guest editor to the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) Advisor, a quarterly newsletter for child welfare professionals who are members of the APSAC organization. Lee wrote about APSAC's recent position statement on corporal punishment, which she co-authored with her colleagues on the APSAC Prevention Committee. Lee argues that based on the strong empirical research showing the harmful consequences of spanking to children, it is important for professional organizations that are concerned with the welfare of children to take a stand against the use of corporal punishment.
Furthermore, child welfare professionals are in a strong position to educate their colleagues and the parents they work with about effective alternatives to hitting children for discipline. Lee also argues that professional education and training for child welfare professionals should include research on the detrimental effects of corporal punishment as well as information on effective alternative disciplinary techniques they can share with parents and caregivers.
Contested Spaces: Jointly Addressing
Intimate Partner Violence and Substance Use
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and problems with Alcohol/Other Drugs (AOD) are frequently intertwined, with studies showing that 25 to 70 % of people affected by one are also affected by the other. Each is a stigmatized condition; many costly societal, family, and personal consequences are associated with each separately, and these are more severe when both are present. IPV and AOD are rarely addressed in a coordinated way, within communities, human services, or social policy, despite growing evidence that doing so reduces barriers to change and improves outcomes. Separate intervention fields for IPV and AOD have evolved, with different origins, histories, conceptual paradigms, and approaches as well as significant controversies within each field. Practitioners report many conflicts and problems in working across fields and creating "hybrid" approaches. As a result, we know little about strategies for addressing both in a coordinated way, or how to reduce the many barriers to this work. To address these gaps in knowledge,  Associate Professor Beth Glover Reed, has developed a mixed methods services research project, with both theoretical and practical goals, to learn from the experiences of innovative organizations and practitioners.

Collaborators include Larry W. Bennett, Indiana University, Elizabeth M. Armstrong and Lauren Whitmer, joint Social Work doctoral program students in Sociology and Anthropology, respectively, and many MSW students.

Gender-based Violence Following the 2011 Great East Japan Disasters: Making the Invisible Visible through Research
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, triggered massive tsunamis, which led to nuclear meltdowns and hydrogen explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant in northeast Japan. This unprecedented disaster called the Great East Japan Disaster, continues to cause far-reaching destruction to human lives and the environment. Incidents of violence against women and children following major disasters have been documented worldwide.

After the Great East Japan Disaster, Professor Mieko Yoshihama contacted colleagues in Japan and established a national network to address women's rights and welfare and she co-directed the network's research committee and conducted action research projects with the goal of strengthening gender-informed disaster policies and responses in Japan.

One such project is the study of gender-based violence following the disaster. This study, the first of its kind in Japan, discovered a wide range of abuse and exploitation, including quid pro quo sexual assault, where threats were used to force compliance in exchange for shelter, food, and other life-sustaining resources. The study's findings have been presented at international and national policy-oriented meetings, such as the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the Japanese Government Prime Minister's Office, Gender Equity Bureau's Disaster Prevention & Reconstruction Working Group.

The Project reports are available in English and Japanese. The recent revisions to national and local disaster planning policies and plans acknowledge the risk of post-disaster gender-based violence.Changes at policy and societal levels are slow and require sustainable (and creative) advocacy efforts, but science and research play important roles. It is this type of engaged and transformative scholarship that Professor Yoshihama continues to engage in.

Professor Yoshihama is a licensed social worker and has worked with many women and families in both the U.S. and Japan. After the Great East Japan Disaster, the Gender Equality Bureau of the Japanese Prime Minister's Office (equivalent of the U.S. President Office) invited her to train over 400 counselors on group work with disaster victims.

PhotoVoice Project: Participatory Investigation of the Great East Japan Disaster
Disasters exacerbate pre-disaster inequities and intensify the vulnerability of women and other marginalized and disempowered groups. Believing that the experiences and perspectives of those who are marginalized should be incorporated in disaster policies and responses, Professor Mieko Yoshihama launched a PhotoVoice project to help develop more effective disaster responses and policies by engaging the very women affected by the disasters. The act of taking photographs and sharing and listening to stories prompted many participants to examine their life conditions and how their lives are connected to and influenced by complex structural and sociocultural forces.

Exhibiting their photographs and voices, making public presentations, and interacting with the audience represented action toward the change they envisioned. The challenges are numerous, but the benefits of participatory action research and its potential contribution are vast.
This is a photo taken by a participant of the PhotoVoice Project who lives alone in a temporary-built housing complex. The police recommended placing men's shoes outside the door.

Theater-based Intimate Partner Violence prevention with Asian communities in Southeast Michigan
Community-based theater is a uniquely powerful way to challenge current beliefs and practices and develop new approaches to preventing intimate partner violence (IPV). Over the last 15 years, Professor Yoshihama has been conducting research using theater to develop, implement, and evaluate community-generated, socioculturally relevant approaches to preventing and ending IPV in Asian communities in Southeast Michigan.

Asians are one of the fastest growing minority population groups in the United States; however, IPV prevention programs that are socioculturally relevant to this rapidly growing population group remain limited. Studies of various Asian populations in the United States report the prevalence of physical and/or sexual IPV somewhere between 18-52% ( Yoshihama, 2009) rates that are comparable to or somewhat higher than those found in studies of the general population of the United States. IPV-related homicides are disproportionately higher among Asian women across the United States ( Yoshihama & Dabby, 2015) Furthermore, tolerance of IPV appears high among Asians in the United States. Given the high rates of IPV and greater degrees of tolerance of IPV among Asians in the United States, it is critically important to develop effective IPV prevention among this growing population group.

Concerned about the lack of socioculturally relevant IPV program for Asian communities in southeast Michigan, an area seeing steady growth of Asian residents, Professor Yoshihama and two graduate students at the time (Youn-Joon Choi, MSW, 2001 and Emilee Coulter-Thompson, MSW, 2001) created New Visions in 2001, a participatory action research (PAR) project involving ongoing collaboration of Asian community members and local and state organizations addressing IPV (e.g., shelter programs, state coalition).