Friday, July 4, 2014

Work to Welfare

Yup! That's right, I'm on welfare... 
 
I'm milking the system for all its worth! I had better go get in line before those immigrants suck up all our resources (which have never once been available when I have needed them) 
 
That's right, just another Ivy League grad too smart to go to work! I am just waiting on my next free meal ticket, subsidy, or voucher. The opportunities to exploit the government are endless! Where do I begin???

I remember how difficult it was for me to obtain benefits when I first applied several years ago. I am deeply concerned about how the most recent decision to eradicate yet another class of TennCare / Medicaid recipients (the Daniels class made up of SSI recipients by way of a pending federal waiver) will affect the poor and disabled residents in Tennessee. 

Without my current level of benefits, I simply do not function.

Before my benefits were stabilized, learning to navigate the system consumed every waking moment of my life. 

I was unable to work or attend school on any substantial level and I am frightened to see at might happen if I were to stray from my established, stabilized, treatment plan. If I lose my benefits, will I still be able to work? To function? To be productive?

Any new public program requires careful planning if it is to be effective. Recent discussions have not focused on the true impact these changes will have on the "street-level."

Has anyone asked recipients how they feel the new program (safety- net) should be designed, implemented, or evaluated? How will this impact the community and other social service or welfare agencies??? I want access, quality, and outcomes. 

I want... I want... I want!!!

The massive number of people being dis-enrolled or limited in their access to medical care and other social services will no doubt create significant anxiety, confusion, and chaos for everyone involved in the social service and health care industries.

I remember when Mr. Brian Lapps was somewhere very high up on the corporate TennCare ladder in 1999 when  they adjusted the prescription formulary over Memorial Day in 1999. I see Mr. Lapps quite frequently since he now works at the local gas station down the street from where I live.

To this day, he insists that cell phones and TennCare are somehow contraindicated. Perhaps he knows nothing of the population he claims to know just all-too-well... housing conditions that may or may not have electricity, broken families-some riddled with community violence and domestic disturbances. In the hood, your cell phone is your very best friend. 9-1-1.

These people plagued by domestic violence and community instability makes a cell phone the only logical option. How  can you find a job with out a phone? How can you find a home with out a job? Yet even 6 years later, Mr. Lapps uses cellular phones as an example how the TennCare program is being abused by lazy, cheap, and unscrupulous second hand citizens who are just shiftless lazy bums waiting around for their next free hand-out.

Anyone who has EVER applied for or relied upon any kind of government subsidy to have their basic needs met, e.g., food, shelter, medical care, dental treatment, etc... let me personally assure you that there has never been a single time where I felt I was "pulling one over" on the government. I am not just one of the poor saps who believed what they told me they in school, I bought it hook, line, and sinker for the mere price of $279,982.00 and not a shred of financial security to show for it.

Even after consolidating my student loans, the interest alone is $10 less than my monthly income from social security.

So what happens now that the state of Tennessee will begin to cut off social security recipients from TennCare? I honestly do not think I can survive yet another re-certification process-- God knows the first one almost killed me. 

After three years of appeals, my condition had deteriorated so severely that I was forced to drop out of school, lost my home, lost my sanity, and lost hope. In short-- I lost my dignity and my belief in the social welfare system.

By the time my benefits were approved, I had already checked myself in to NYU Psych Ward because simply could not cope with the reality of what my life I had  become. I weighed 94 pounds and suffered in excruciating pain that has only gotten worse with time. My extremities were ice cold, and my hands were numb since I went without medical treatment for the spinal injury that was first discovered when I was 22.

I am now 35 years old. My spinal cord is now damaged from years of delayed, sub-standard medical treatment. I owe the federal government $279,982.00 in student loans and when I am able to work, I make $10.46 / hour as a substitute teacher in an urban school district. That job comes with no security and no benefits. It does however offer the flexibility I need to receive the bi-monthly epidural injections and other procedures necessary to manage my pain and alleviate the numbness I feel because of the damage to my nerves. And even though I cannot afford the gas money to get my appointments, pay for all of my medication, or even to get back and forth to work, it does allow me a few weeks of mobility so I can drive, use my mouse or hold a pen.

I have an advanced master's degree from an Ivy League Institution. I am 12 credits shy of a PhD in public policy. And despite maintaining a 3.83 grade point average while completing an advanced masters in social and educational policy at an, "Ivy League" institution; a 3.2 GPA during the 3 years I spent working on my doctorate at a not-quite-so-prestigious Graduate School; The Powers That Beat in that damn Ivory Tower don't will not grant me any leniency by extending the amount or time permitted to complete my degree-- a rule that was changed while I was on a formal leave of absence tending to my health (and my Medicaid appeals!). 

Not only did they decide 8 years was the rule instead of the 10 it had been previously, I was also told that I could not even transfer the credits I had earned toward a different degree towards another program at the same institution. It has been just over ten years since I first  enrolled. 

What a mistake that was!
 
The "Harvard of the South" no longer offers the degree to which I was admitted and enrolled so they actually suggested that I pay for a 3rd application to the school (I was admitted into two degrees-- the MPP as well as the PhD program in  a separate college) requiring two independent applications, fees, transcripts, test scores, even way back when I was still considered a promising candidate. 

Now "they" think it is reasonable to ask that I do it all over again??? It goes without saying that I do not have the financial resources available to finish my last semester, take the GREs  or GMATs one more time, or even the money to release my transcripts from the Graduate School into any other program at the same University, I guess I am just shit out of luck.

To be clear, WE ARE ALL PAYING for that student debt because I can assure you that their endowment is far greater than any income or earning potential I have given my current financial status and student loan debt! To be clear, YOU ARE ALL PAYING to keep me on Welfare. Yes, all of us are paying some price..... We I want to work. I want to be productive. I want to be a part of something greater than myself. I want to share what I've learned.

So throughout the years I struggled to stay in school, believing somehow that social justice would prevail, and my heart and dedication towards the greater good would show through to whomever, wherever, or whatever that could make my degree worth while-- the Medicaid and disability applications managed to take front seat. 

So as I filed appeal after appeal after appeal, I managed to acquire well over 1/4 million (yes-- MILLION) dollars in debt due to uninsured medical expenses and student  loans.

My life will never be the same. My heart will never be the same. I want to pay my bills on time. I want to get off welfare, but  no one ever taught me how to be poor.

So after all this-- now I face losing my healthcare once again? Where is the safety net? Where is the American Dream that I so diligently chased after for so many years? 

What was the point spending so much on an education that will never be utilized? I understand the how; I just don't understand why.

Maybe one of these days Vanderbilt University or and the Department of Education will realize it might just be cheaper to hire me that harass me, because unless I find a real paying job soon, their collections department will no longer be able to reach me on that extravagant lifeline my friend, Brian Lapps, refers to as a luxury.

If anyone on your staff would like to "trade places" with me for one month-I will gladly assume his/her responsibilities for that position if you can find a writer who is willing to endure and write aboutthe reality of social services in our fine state. I do not want a paycheck from your organization; I just want the opportunity to put the myth of freeloading welfare mothers to rest.

 Live in my shoes for 30 days. Can you find the out? Can you balance my budget and make it work? Can you get the bill collectors of my back? 

Can you afford Internet service to file state job applications and apply for services online? Can you maintain pride and dignity without feeling the least bit sorry for yourself and the choices you have made?

When I go to the pharmacy, I am humiliated that I do not have the $3.00 necessary for the co-pay on my covered TennCare prescriptions. At least when it was $40 dollars, I was not so damn embarrassed by my lack of funds.

Remind me again why I went to school. Remind me once more why I bother to speak out. Then remind me right now that that there is somebody listening. I cannot be the only one who actually gives a crap. My contact information is listed below.

Live & not so well in the US of A

Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.
(Former doctoral student in public policy)



Originally Published by Elyssa Durant, Ed.M. © 2008-2013 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Letter From a Friend on PTSD


From: Elyssa Durant 
Date: September 5, 2008, 2:20:16 PM EDT
To: ed70
Subject: letter to catherine from AC

my god -- this could not have come at a better time!

i just spent the last 4 hours composing a letter only to realize i have no one to send it to.

i have so many things i need to say-- and it huts so much to realize that my carefully chosen words have been ignored, ridiculed or twisted by some egomaniac who seems to get off on making me feel
like a piece of shit.

i spent hours writing a press release for a committee i joined believing it would lead to other opportunities (which it did) but apparently it is good to use so long as I don't put my name on it.

So after putting my entire soul into a volunteer project for the last two weeks, i am at a loss for words.  i only have tears.  

this world is breaking me, and i just don't get it...  

i don't understand why i do so much for others only to find myself completely abandoned by the very same people and organizations i helped build.  

All i can think right now is just sending a very simple one word reply: "FURB!"

hope is a terrible thing.  so is post traumatic stress. just as i begin to think i'm on the verge of breaking the cycle; the slightest trigger can set me back to the exact same place i was 13 years ago.

i'm sorry for babbling at your expense, but i actually may send it (to you exclusively) on the off chance that you may be able to see through my fragmented, disconnected words that keep me from participating in this so-called life.

thank you so very much-- if you don't mind, i may just send the letter to myself. 

i worked on for so long, [FIVE YEARS] because even if you don't read it, at least i'll know that i had enough courage to say what some people really need to hear!  

unfortunately, the people who need to hear what i'm saying are so far removed from the incredible pain they
have caused me, they would not even realize i am directing my anger, fear, sadness and feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that are a direct result of their depraved indifference.

this is a very sad day for me.  

i hope you don't mind me sharing too much-- it kind of comes with the territory!

Sincerely yours,

Elyssa Durant



-- 
Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

http://labs.daylife.com/journalist/elyssa_durant

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/145691/elyssa_durant.html


"The paradox of education is precisely this-- that as one begins to
become educated, one begins to examine the society in which he [or
she] is being educated."   - Baldwin


POST SCRIPT: This is a happy day for me because not only am I finally posting this "UNWRITTEN" letter, I no longer suffer with PTSD and after living in silence for more than a decade, I am finally finding my voice and my self. 

No longer "UNWRITTEN"

Elyssa D. Durant © August 29, 2013

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Casualties of War: Violence in American Schools by Elyssa D. Durant

Casualties of War: Hired Guns in American Schools
by Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.


Over the last decade, there has been mounting concern for the safety of teachers and students in the American public school system. This is particularly true of urban high schools, where students must walk through a metal detector before entering the building. School violence has become epidemic, and educational researchers have looked long and hard for a solution to the problem.

School administrators and elected officials bear the responsibility of keeping students safe during school hours, and a number of districts have implemented violence prevention programs. School security has become a top priority, and while improved security measures may have contributed to a decline in school related deaths, it has not been without significant changes in the school environment.

The added security has effected the traditional school environment by disrupting the chain of command within public institutions. The presence of school security guards appears to have a negative impact on the overall school climate. The presence of security guards disrupts traditional roles within the schools, and teachers report feeling at odds with security personnel. Increased security tends to fragment the school environment, and teachers report feeling a false sense of security. The secured environment is an indication of how students are expected to behave.

Under these conditions, it is not surprising to learn that students also report pervasive feelings of fear and do not feel secure despite the added presence of security personnel on school grounds. For these students, school is a mere extension of the violent communities in which they live.

Studies consistently report lower academic achievement in these neighborhoods. Children growing up in urban neighborhoods have a much higher incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most researchers believe this to be the direct result of living in stressed communities plagued with street crime and violence.

Despite the severe implications of this realization, there is virtually no research on how pervasive fear affects the academic performance of urban adolescents. Previous research has found that people who suffer from acute stress process information differently (Sapolsky, 1996; McNally, 1995; Metcalfe & Jacobs, 1996). Individuals who feel threatened by their environment are acutely aware of their surroundings and have a heightened sensitivity to visual cues. As a result, they tend to hyper-focus on potential sources of threat, and shift into a different cognitive gear.

Individuals under stress not only store information differently, but their ability to retrieve information is also largely dependent upon emotional states (Metcalfe & Jacobs, 1996; Sapolsky, 1996; Perry, et al, 1996). Interestingly enough, information learned in song, rhyme, or rap is more easily retrieved in a state of high arousal. If this is in fact true, then popular culture may affect adolescents considerably more than previously believed. In addition to helping us understand the cognitive framework of individuals under stress, this can help us to find alternatives teaching methods to help urban schoolchildren who have not responded to traditional teaching methods.

Research has found the school climate to be a critical factor in reduction of school violence (Walker, 1995; Sabo, 1993). Disruptions in the traditional organization structure places additional stress on the school climate. The effect of school violence on teacher relationships is not known. In response to the public outcry for action, school boards implemented violence prevention programs and zero tolerance policies long before there was a chance to evaluate the severity and prevalence of the problem. The literature tends to focus on classroom management and violence prevention programs (Ascher, 1994; Walker, 1995).

Literature on school violence tends to focus on statistics and incident reports that do not provide an adequate understanding of school related violence. The research on school violence fails to address the importance of the organizational culture and the various components that are critical to effective schools. It is not surprising that students are unable to learn in this environment.

Teachers have become fearful of their students, and students fear each other. The presence of school security will certainly affect the organizational balance of American public schools, and sensitizes all members of the school environment to the roles they are expected to play. Many teachers feel a social responsibility and commitment to their schools, and feel they have a direct impact on the livelihood of their student body.

Together, the urban public school and the community it serves are a constant reminder of the poor living conditions and social reality of urban America. Students understand what is expected of them, and teachers are sensitized to conduct which reinforces their experience. Since urban communities have many different sources of stress, it is important to examine how school policies contribute to the learning environment in public schools.

Elyssa D. Durant © 1996-2014

edd, edm

In God We Trust: Public Funds for Parochial Schools by Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.

In God We Trust: Applying the Lemon Test for Public Funds for Parochial Schools
by Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.

1. How can school vouchers reach a balance between serving the public interest and preserving individual freedoms and rights?
2. What additional arguments can be presented for against the use of school vouchers for parochial schools?
3. How is the issue of school vouchers for sectarian institutions different or similar from issues surrounding prayer in school?
4. What are the common issues relevant to both charter schools and voucher programs?



This article will address concerns regarding the long-term outcomes of school choice and voucher programs. Specifically: do school vouchers exacerbate the inequality between the rich and the poor?

Since I believe that health care and education are both social goods, I have some reservations about letting the free-market run amok during such a critical point in history. Is it wise to allow for-profit market forces to dictate public goods when natural rights are at stake?

The shortcomings of the Medicaid managed care programs, Medicare supplemental insurance policies, and demonstration projects such as the privatization of prisons provide sufficient evidence of the dangers of profit driven corporations in American culture. Corporate scandals with food and other suppliers contracted by the Board of Education in New York City in the late 1990's provide excellent examples of how easy it is for private companies to manipulate funds away from the target recipients.

It was not too long ago that private managed care companies offered gifts to boost enrollment by enticing desperate Medicaid recipients to join their plans. This marketing strategy is simply offensive when we are dealing with a social good albeit health care or education. Vulnerable populations are frequently exploited through corporate contracts and there is little reason to believe that for-profit conglomerates would treat public schools or economically disadvantaged students and families otherwise.

Arguments on both sides of the school voucher issue are very similar to those presented for and against charter schools and free-market school choice. Smrekar (1998) presents four key issues that have been at the center of the school choice debate: (1) economic, (2) political; (3) social justice; and (4) pedagogical.

The economic argument in favor of school choice points out that our current public education system resembles a monopoly. Proponents argue that the introduction of choice into the educational marketplace will promote competition and force schools with poor performance records to improve or close (Friedman, 1968).

The political argument is centered on the democratic ideal that the freedom to choose where your child attends school is a fundamental right. The political argument also triggers strong feelings about the role of education in a democratic society. There are those who feel that the public school is intended, at least in part, to create a common set of core values that is best served by the public sector.

At the core of the political school choice argument is a debate regarding the benefits of providing a common set of experiences in a democracy versus promoting individual choice and liberty (Smrekar, 1998). This issue, while not dead, was challenged in 1925 when the Supreme Court ruled in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510 (1925)) in favor of parents who sent their children to private school. This argument continues today and is at the center of both school choice and curriculum debates.

The social justice argument is a bit more complicated and there is little agreement on any front. Proponents argue that school choice empowers the poor to participate in the education of their children by giving them the same options available to wealthier families in the United States. According to a 1997 poll in USA Today, 47% of parents would send their children to private schools if they had the financial resources (Doyle, 1997).

Information is an essential component to any school choice program. In order to ensure social equity in school choice programs we need to be sure that the "poor" are fully informed of their choices and are not taken advantage of in the open market. Research has shown that the act of "choosing" has positive effects on the school environment and promotes parental involvement in their children's education (Doyle, 1997). Additional components of the social justice argument have focused on the nuts and bolts of choice programs, and point out how there are several different ways that choice programs may (wittingly or unwittingly) promote social inequity (Cookson, 1995). Such arguments focus on transportation problems, admissions policies, the availability of information, and how we define "choice" and implement policies regulating recruitment, enrollment and performance of participating schools, (Cookson, 1995; 1997).

The pedagogical argument points out that school choice programs are better suited for the individual needs inherent to a pluralistic society. Although some feel there is value in providing core curriculum and a common set of basic skills, there is a current trend towards specialty schools that focus on the arts and sciences, technology, vocational training, etc. Educators look towards successful magnet schools as examples of the pedagogical success that demonstrated the importance of school choice and parental involvement as indicators of educational outcomes. Some educators fear that the introduction of school choice and voucher plans would prompt the best students to leave public schools and that this would have a negative effect on the overall climate of public classrooms.

Among the various school voucher programs, there is considerable controversy surrounding the program design that gives qualified individuals the choice to attend parochial schools using public funds. Traditional arguments against this type of school voucher program have focused on the constitutionality of using state funds for sectarian institutions. In theory, public schools are believed to be completely independent of religious institutions and provide a place where young adults can join together and develop a core set of "American" values and "democratic" principles. Just this year, states such as Tennessee have modified the curriculum to include Bible class in publicly funded classrooms. It is not yet known how this will be implemented given the number of students who did not meet the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) benchmarks. They are just now trying designing the course content and have not yet selecting the text to be used next fall (2008).

Historically, the church had a key role in the education of children in America. During the National Period (1780-1830), churches were used to educate children, and the King James Bible was used as a reader in these classrooms (Smrekar, 1998). Derek Neal (1997) points out that much of the current sentiment against Catholic schools is not a reflection of their excellent performance record, but rather an indication of the anti-Catholic sentiment which swept the country during the late part of the 19th Century (Neal, 1997). Neal argues that until that point, there was no contest to religious education as long as it was Protestant.

Catholic schools have traditionally served the children of the working class. They were a major socializing force earlier in the century and continue to succeed with children who might otherwise fall through the cracks in public schools. Despite tapering enrollment, Catholic schools remain a viable force in the private sector providing a reasonably priced private education to American children. Neal conducted a study that looked at the graduation rates of minority children attending Catholic schools compared with children attending public schools in the inner cities. Controlling for demographic variables, (parent's education, parent's occupation, family structure, and reading materials at home) closer analysis revealed graduation rates for urban minorities are 26% higher in Catholic schools compared with public schools in the same communities. Although Neal found similar benefits for whites and in suburban communities, this effect was most profound for urban minorities.

Other studies have focused on identifying the qualities that make Catholic schools successful. A number of factors have been identified by Bryk and Lee, including active parental participation and the benefits of school choice in creating an inclusive community that fosters a common set of values and ideals (Bryk & Lee, 1995). Interestingly, the very same variables found to enhance the performance of Catholic school students are remarkably similar to the reported benefits of magnet schools and choice programs. Despite the excellent performance records of Catholic schools, there are currently no voucher programs that allow parochial schools to participate in state funded voucher programs.

The reason for this is quite simple, but not necessarily correct or in the best interest of our children. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of public funds in religious institutions. However, it can also be argued that it is unconstitutional to exclude parochial schools from voucher systems because it violates the student's free expression of religion. In addition, voucher programs require a conscious decision on the part of the student and the parent. The state does not enforce a blanket endorsement of any one religion. I use Catholic schools as an example because they represent the majority of parochial schools in urban America.

Voucher programs typically undergo strict scrutiny for all four reasons mentioned above, but this issue is especially true of any choice or voucher program that channels funds into Parochial schools. For this reason, Catholic schools and other schools with religious affiliations have been excluded from voucher plans up until this point. It is not politically viable to institute a choice or voucher program at any level (at the district, state or national level) since similar plans have historically presented long-standing, hard-fought, legal challenges to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Since the Supreme Court has not ruled on this issue, most challenges up until this point have taken place in state courts[1]. These state decisions have been split, and while there are a few voucher programs operating in Wisconsin and Ohio, neither permits sectarian schools to participate in their programs. Milwaukee designed a voucher system that included parochial schools in 1995 but later revised their proposal after the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction against expansion into religious schools (Kremerer & King, 1995).

School choice programs that involve vouchers have not been tested in the Supreme Court, but there is a long history of court cases that challenge the flow of money from the public sector into private, sectarian institutions. The recent pattern of Supreme Court rulings has lead some legal scholars (Kremerer & King, 1995) to conclude that school vouchers would pass constitutional muster under the following circumstances:

1. Provides payments in the form of scholarships to parents of school age children
2. Allows parents to choose among a variety of public and private sectarian and nonsectarian schools for their children
3. Gives no preference to sectarian private institutions

Voucher programs up until this point have encountered substantial resistance from the legal community and a number of civil rights and political organizations. This becomes more pronounced when the voucher model includes sectarian institutions in the model plan and state court rulings have been inconsistent in decisions surrounding the constitutionality of voucher programs.

The definitive case regarding school voucher programs is Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602 (1971)). The Court's ruling in Lemon was based on three components that came to be known as the "Lemon Test." The Lemon Test applies the following to any Constitutional challenge of the Establishment Clause:

1. The government action must have a secular purpose
2. The primary effect must neither advance, nor inhibit religion
3. It must not result in excessive governmental entanglement with religion

Since voucher programs do not generally provide support directly to the institution, individual freedom and choice remain intact. Individual families are empowered by educational vouchers since they choose the school and religion appropriate for them. Qualified schools are not determined by religious affiliation and all schools are required to adhere to state and federal regulations that increase accountability. Similar issues came before the courts in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510 (1925)) as well, however Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602 (1971)) is considered to be both the landmark and test case currently before the courts.

The reason for this is quite simple, but not necessarily correct or in the best interest of our children. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of public funds in religious institutions. However, it could also be argued that it is unconstitutional to exclude parochial schools from voucher systems because it violates the free expression of religion. In addition, voucher programs require a conscious decision on the part of the student and the parent. The state does not enforce a blanket endorsement of any one religion. I use Catholic schools as an example because they represent the majority of parochial schools in urban America.

Teacher's unions are resistant to bring in a new system that has the potential to upset their job status and security. It will likely be a number of years before we truly understand the effects of magnet schools and can evaluate the implementation of school choice programs that are already in place. Because we are dealing with such an essential human, social good, it is my recommendation that we do not implement a largest-scale voucher program until issues of access and equity are resolved on other public fronts. We must ensure real choices for the students and families who are not information savvy and may be limited in their ability to recognize the real value of their options. We must find a way to ensure the equitable distribution of resources so that education truly does will empower the poor.

Is it time to apply the Lemon Test to school vouchers?

You decide.


References

Cookson, P.W., Jr. (1994). School choice: The struggle for the soul of American education. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Cookson, P.W., Jr. (1995). ERIC Digests: School Choice.

Doyle, D.P. (1997). Vouchers for religious schools. Public Interest, 127, 88-95.

Haynes, C.C. (1993). Beyond the culture wars. Educational Leadership, 51(4), 30-34.

Houston, P.D. (1993). School vouchers: The latest California joke. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(4), 61-64.

Kremerer, F.R. & King, K.L. (1995). Are school vouchers Constitutional? Phi Delta Kappan, 77(1), 307-311.

Kremerer, F.R. (1995). The Constitutionality of school vouchers. West's Education Law Reporter,101 Ed. Law Rep. 17.

Kremerer, F.R. (1997). State Constitutions and school vouchers. West's Education Law Reporter, 120 Ed. Law Rep. 1.

Neal, D. (1997). Measuring Catholic school performance. Public Interest, 127, 81-87.

[1] Including a decision that was handed down regarding a choice plan in Ohio. (12/18/2000)

Elyssa D. Durant © 1996-2014

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Complex PTSD: Devastating Health Effects From Workplace Bullying | Workplace Bullying Institute

Complex PTSD: Devastating Health Effects From Workplace Bullying

September 30th, 2011


By Andrew Mitchell
Suite 101
August 18th 2010

The harming effects of workplace bullying can go further than mere embarrassment. A target may become psychologically injured after long-term abuse.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, "workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse; offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; and work interference (sabotage) which prevents work from getting done."

Workplace bullying has devastating effects on the targeted individual. Not only does one feel that their job is in jeopardy, they may also start to feel physically ill and emotionally harmed.

Workplace Bullying Liabilities

Bullying poses great liabilities to employers, including:

  • Occupational health and safety violations;
  • Actions for negligence or intentional infliction of mental suffering; or
  • Defamatory actions.

Another concern that arises from workplace bullying is stress-related illness. These illnesses can range over many categories. It is not uncommon for people under extreme stress to develop symptoms of heart disease (i.e. high blood pressure), gastrointestinal disorders (i.e. irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers) and many other ailments. The stress that results from bullying can lead to long-term illnesses; some ailments by affect an individual for life.

Bullying and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

As a result of the negative feelings associated with workplace bullying, targets are at a very high risk of developing mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorder. Their way of living is attacked for no apparent reason and often, the attacker is intent on harming the target for no apparent reason. Targets may endure abuse day in and day out for months or even years. This abuse harms their overall health. While depression and anxiety can be debilitating, targets may experience symptoms that are different. Yet finding a fitting diagnosis causes a bit of a controversy among some professionals.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) describes symptoms that result when a person is involved in a short-term or single traumatic event. Examples include accidents, natural disasters, assault, attempted murder and rape because these are considered to be of short duration. However, the trauma related to workplace bullying is not an isolated, short-term event.

Long term or chronic events that span a period of months or years tend to develop symptoms that vary from PTSD. There is usually more intense psychological harm when one experiences repeated trauma. There may be complete changes to one's concept of who they are and in their ability to cope with stressful situations.

During long-term traumas, people are held in physical and/or emotional captivity. They are under the influence of their abuser and unable to get out of the situation they are in. Examples include:

  • Prisoner of War camps
  • Long-term domestic violence
  • Repeated, severe physical abuse
  • Childhood sexual abuse

Some psychologists believe that a different term, Complex PTSD (C-PTSD), should be used to identify trauma that is repeated or long-term. Bullying targets may show symptoms that are similar to PTSD and/or C-PTSD. For this reason, researchers of workplace bullying believe that bullying should be considered an example of captivity.

C-PTSD is not a recognized diagnosis in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It should be noted, however, that the main difference between the two types of PTSD is the cause of the disorder in the patient. Symptoms of the two types are much the same. For this reason, therapists may diagnose bullying targets with PTSD, allowing patients receive treatment.

The Symptoms of Complex PTSD

Above all, to be considered for a diagnosis of C-PTSD, the target must experience an extended period under the control of another person. After this has been established, other symptoms must be taken into account.

According to Julia M. Whealin, Ph.D. and Laurie Slone, Ph.D., in the May 22, 2007 version of the US Department of Veterans Affairs site, Complex PTSD, there are symptoms that would occur if someone has been chronically victimized, including:

  • Persistent sadness, explosive anger; inhibited anger; suicidal thoughts;
  • Forgetting traumatic events or reliving them. Feeling detached from one's mind or body;
  • Feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt and stigma. One may feel that they are different than other people;
  • Attributing total power to the abuser. Preoccupation with the perpetrator, possibly becoming obsessed with revenge;
  • Social isolation, distrust in others or repeatedly searching for a rescuer; and
  • A loss of faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.

Other difficulties that may be experienced by people with C-PTSD include:

  • Avoiding topics related to the trauma due to feelings that are too overwhelming;
  • Abusing alcohol/other substances to avoid and/or numb feelings/thoughts associated with trauma;
  • Self-mutilating and/or other types of self-injurious behaviors.

Workplace bullying is a serious issue due to the harmful health issues it causes. People have committed suicide and/or harmed others while in the throes of PTSD episodes. One should consult their doctor and/or a mental health professional if experiencing symptoms, especially feelings that cause one to be a danger to self or others.

Originally posted at Suite101

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