Social Work 1A06: Introduction to Social Work March 4 2013
Lecture 20: Children and Youth: Oppression in the Child Welfare System and Education Systems
Presentation from OPIRG:
- All about human rights and the environment – making the world a better place for everyone
- 16 Different Working Groups
o Like Fossil Free McMaster
Campaign to stop university from investing in the fossil fuel industry
Stop causing climate change and invest in solutions instead
- Resource library where you can sign out dvds, books, periodicals etc.
o MUSC 229
o Links to the working groups and contact info for all of them
- Critique of education
o Quite often people learn things they don’t need to know, things they will never use,
things they are not interested in
- Offers courses based on your interests
o To learn – not to get the credentials
- Very complex! The models presented today do not cover complexity – just there to as an
- What happens when you suffer multiple forms of oppression
o See chart on the slide
Oppression is about carving out a space of power/privilege by marginalizing
Lots of ways to do that
Power = access to resources and decision making
o Oppression: Ablism, Sexism, Ageism etc.
o Each of the forms of oppression fundamentally change how the other forms of
E.g. because of sexism, the way a man enacts racism is different from the way a
woman enacts sexism
Don’t just stack one on top of the other – they fundamentally change one
If you put sexism (yellow lens) on top of heterosexism (red lens) and you
get orange lens, not red and yellow separately
Interact and change one another fundamentally
Oppression and Children and Youth Services
- There are several avenues for oppression to enter the child welfare and education systems–
o Oppression acts thru structures – created by people
Can bring or challenge oppression
Set up of the organization can be oppressive
Created thru systems of oppression
- Education System
o Children and youth spend a large portion of their day in school from the age of 6 to at
Legally required from 6-18 in Ontario to be in school
o May spend another 2-12 years in post-secondary education
o Children and youth have very little say over what they will learn, how they will learn or
where they will learn
Class discussion: What do you remember about elementary and secondary
No disagreeing with the teacher
Some teachers demand respect but don’t give it
Spend a lot of time learning to line up in straight lines and respond
properly to bells
Had to be in specific rooms at specific times
Most often caters to a specific style of learning
Overall: Controlling behaviour
o Which rules are necessary and which rules are not necessary?
Which rules are there to teach you just to follow rules?
o Majority of teachers are white, middle-class, able bodied and identify as heterosexual
(in the classroom at least)
They are also educated in particular ways – need an undergrad degree with
good grades to get into teacher’s college
Need to be a particular kind of learner – you are more likely to teach in
the way that you learn
So students are not always reflected in their teachers
Or their service workers 3
o Employees of the Children’s Aid Societies and our schools do not reflect the “racial”
make-up of their communities or their clientele.
A disproportionate number of families from racialized groups become involved
with the society and have children come into care.
o The experience of racialized communities is not reflected in the curriculum.
Racialization of “problem” kids
Experienced racialization of some kids is not reflected in the curriculum
o Schools vary in the diversity of their student population
Some schools have diverse community, some schools reflect the teachers (e.g.
white, middle class)
o This is compounded by issues for refugee and immigrant communities
Seen as coming from “problem” groups
o As professionals, the vast majority of workers and teachers come from/are part of, the
Therefore a lot of prejudice/criticism/discrimination from teachers/workers
based on class
Have to note: there are workers/teachers that do not feel this way, but
the oppression is threaded through the system regardless of these
E.g. if you work/serve families in a neighbourhood that you are afraid
of, how do you feel about the families that live there, that live near that
CAS – if you believe that being poor makes you an inadequate parent, you are
going to change the way you practice
Middle class ideas about cleanliness and safe housing
Does a kid need a perfectly clean house to grow up safe?
o Do you take a kid out of a home because there is laundry on the
o Issues surrounding poverty:
Poverty is the number one reason families become involved with the C.A.S. and
it is also one of the main reasons children come in to care.
Children who are poor have to move often and change schools frequently
Because their housing is unstable
o Teachers tend to blame the child for not being up to date –
don’t do a lot of extra work to help them
Teachers expect less from poor students and there is a lot of prejudice towards
students involved with the CAS
Teachers treat kids that are dressed poorly differently and have lower
expectations of them 4
Issues such as a housing, health and neglect can be directly related to poverty.
Other problems such as stress and mental health issues are indirectly related.
o As you get paid more money, you see more men
The majority of workers at the C.A.S. are women except at the higher
In schools men are mostly found in high schools and management.
Men who want to teach kindergarten are seen as suspect – why do you
want to hang out with little kids all day? Suspicious of them because of
their gender – sexism works both ways
o Single mothers are the most represented group in the CAS.
o All files are opened under the mother’s nam