Applying Psychological Science, Benefiting Society

Challenges Facing Transgender Inmates, Suicide and Race, Parenting with Disabilities – In Case You Missed It – August 4, 2015

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Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address the challenges transgender inmates face, disturbing new data on suicide rates in Black youth, the rights of parents with disabilities and more.

Life as a transgender inmate: Confronting a hostile system behind bars and in court – The Guardian

Transgender inmates must confront a hostile and violent system. According to a study by University of California Irvine professor Valerie Jenness, more than half of all transgender inmates experience rape. Prison culture also creates an atmosphere where transgender inmates may submit to sexual assault for protection from physical violence – unimpeded by prison authorities. In addition to rape, transgender inmates face the threat of death at the hands of other inmates. In an effort to protect transgender inmates, many prison authorities place them in solitary confinement, which the United Nations denounces as inhumane. In 2012, the federal government implemented the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which now requires all prisons to determine housing for transgender inmates on a case-by-case basis. Most states are moving slowly on implementation. Jennifer Orthwein, an attorney at the Transgender Law Center, says that often, when transgender inmates report sexual assault, “prison staff dismiss their reports, [suggesting] the sexual contact was consensual. Assault is often perceived by staff to be the victim’s fault, just because they are transgender and therefore somehow brought it upon themselves.” For more on this topic, read our recent blog post, Cruel and (Un)usual Punishment: The Treatment of Transgender Prisoners.

Suicide and Race – SAMHSA Blog

In July of this year, JAMA Pediatrics published a research paper analyzing childhood suicide trends from 1993 to 2012. One critical issue the authors found was that while school-aged suicide trends have stayed constant, trends on a racial level have changed substantially. In fact, the stable overall suicide rate has “obscured a significant increase in suicide incidence in black children.” Obviously, this finding is concerning on many levels. However, more research is needed to understand the risk and protective factors for African American children and youth and to see if they are experiencing more exposure to violence, traumatic stress, and/or aggressive school discipline.  More research is also needed on earlier puberty in African American children to determine whether it is a risk for depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Also, more knowledge is needed from the research lens to determine if there is sufficient evidence that religiosity and social support are in fact protective factors for this population or if the protective factors have changed over time.

Jen Welter is Teaching Men, and Girls, as NFL’s First Female Coach – New York Times

Jen Welter (who holds a master’s degree in sport psychology and doctorate in psychology) made history last week when the Arizona Cardinals hired her to work with their inside linebackers for training camp and the preseason, and she became the first female coach in the NFL. The appointment generated a swirl of news media attention, but Welter, who maintains a promotional website and is active on social media, sought to play down the attention. In an interview, she said she would be satisfied just inspiring girls to succeed. “I want little girls to grow up knowing that when they put their mind to something, when they work hard, that they can do anything regardless” of the expectations of others, she said. Still, for the NFL, there is much at stake as it tries to build on a growing pool of female fans while rebuilding an image damaged by a string of domestic violence cases involving players like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy. Welter’s debut comes three months after the NFL hired its first full-time female referee, Sarah Thomas, who will begin calling games in the regular season starting next month. The NFL has also hired women to fill key executive posts, including chief lobbyist, chief marketing officer, and adviser on domestic violence. Welter, though, has been hired only as a coaching intern for the preseason. After that, she must get in line with the thousands of other coaches trying to win full-time spots on NFL teams.

Opinion – The ADA at 25: People with Disabilities Want Kids – TalkPoverty.org  (by Rebecca Cokley, Executive Director of the National Council on Disability)

Throughout July, the disability community and its allies celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Here’s the question the disability community and the next generation now face: We got the ADA 25 years ago, so what’s next? The answer you get depends greatly on whom you ask. Ms. Cokley believes a priority is to protect the civil rights of parents with disabilities. Right now in 37 states parents with disabilities can have their custodial rights terminated on the basis of having a disability. Additional rights to be an adoptive or foster parent, to have access to reproductive technology, and to be treated fairly in the eyes of the child welfare and family court system are also impacted by discrimination on the basis of a parent’s disability. Parents with disabilities are the only distinct community of Americans who must struggle to retain custody of their children, and they and their children are disproportionately—and often inappropriately— referred to child welfare services. For more on this topic, read our recent blog post by Dr. Alette-Coble Temple, Parental Rights Include Disability Equality: A Call to Action for Psychology.

APA Exclusive – Is Psychology Becoming More Diverse? – Monitor on Psychology

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New data from APA’s Center for Workforce Studies shows that more members of racial and ethnic-minority groups have entered the psychology workforce in recent years. These new entrants to the field tend to be younger than non-minority psychologists. From 2005 to 2013, the proportion of minorities in the U.S. psychology workforce grew from 9 percent to 16 percent. In the period 2011–13, the racial/ethnic minority composition of the psychology workforce was 4 percent Asian, 4 percent Black/African American, 5 percent Hispanic and 2 percent other non-White groups. In addition, the mean age of minority psychologists was 47, a level significantly lower than White psychologists, whose average age was 51.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

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