A Challenging Future: Current Barriers and Recommended Action for Our Field
Jo Webber & Brenda Scheuermann
Southwest Texas State University
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Note - A reformatted version of this article appeared in Behavioral Disorders, 22(3), 167-1785, May 1997
ABSTRACT: More children and youth are developing emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) while services are dwindling. Social factors, unsympathetic public policy, and ineffective educational programming are formidable barriers for those of us who care about and work with these young people. However, we cannot desist in our responsibility as professionals. Through expanded expertise and ardent advocacy, we can make a difference in these regressive trends. This article presents an overview of current forces impinging on the field of EBD and offers some recommendations for action.
More than ever before it is dangerous to be a child in the United States. The fact that increasingly more children and youth are developing emotional and behavioral difficulties has been well-documented (e.g., National Mental Health Association, 1989; Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 1995). Social risk factors, inhumane public policies, and educational stagnation contribute to this risk, as evidenced by deteriorating family structures; increased poverty; more violence at home, school and in the neighborhood; and fewer social and mental health services. For those who care about and work with children and youth with EBD, these barriers are discouraging. Nevertheless, there is reason for hope and a clear agenda to persevere in our efforts to effectively educate these young people.
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