With protests happening across the globe in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's clear that change is much-needed at the systemic level. One of the changes is supplementing Police with Social Services in order to effect positive changes in communities. This is one step that incites real change for communities and those who have been personally affected by institutionalized racism and oppression.
Does Social Services have what it takes?
When it comes down to it, we're all wondering if a representative of Social Services would be able to handle a scenario that involves high tension and physical altercation. This in fact is an easy question to answer. Due to the nature of what Social Services deals with on a daily basis, these individuals are capable of analyzing situations for threats and violent intent in order to think of the best manner that will lead to emotional, mental, and physical support of all those involved in these tough and scary situations, as well as following through on providing that care for those that indeed need it. A popular sentiment shared by those in the community of social workers is that the best weapon in their arsenal is a sandwich, a blanket, and an ear to listen. In situations where circumstances become dangerous, social workers are trained to efficiently and effectively deescalate to ensure the well-being of all individuals involved.
Is this more effective than the Police?
The job of all Police are to "protect and serve," so why are we even asking if Social Services should take over? What can Social Services do that the Police aren't already struggling to accomplish?
While the Police do a fine job at helping with crimes after they have happened in order to pursue justice, Social Services is all about doing proactive, and ultimately preemptive efforts. In order to help individuals, it's important to fund and support the education, cultural expression, and art of communities. If we support the essence of ourselves we can build a stronger community. More so, Social Services is focused on supporting the individual in crisis and the other people around them, not just one or the other. Such community outreach fosters a healthier respect of the individual as well as their environment, and encourages people to be their best selves.
Like all things, this will take a lot of work. In order to accomplish these goals, real and large changes structurally must occur. We must continue to educate ourselves on our communities and what we can do to make the world reflective of the way we want it.
To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health section of our blog.
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