The Family Violence course, which examines dynamics of power and control in intimate relationships, covers the topics of child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse.
"Having [students learn from] practitioners in the field adds value to the theoretical content, more so than just reading about the concepts in a textbook," says Professor Kuo. Likewise, learning from experts who address family violence, either by working with victims and perpetrators directly or by working with the community as a whole, adds depth to the course. "One instructor can't cover the vast field of family violence the way individual experts can," observes Kuo.
Guest speakers hosted by Professor Kuo include:
Intimate Partner Maltreatment/Domestic Violence
- Director of Rape Crisis Center/Safe Haven in Ashland, Ohio
- Detective in the Ashland Police Department
- Victims' Assistance Coordinator for the Ashland County Prosecutor's Office
- Victim Advocate at the Domestic Violence Center of Mansfield
- Director of Social Services at Ashland County Department of Job and Family Services
- Case Manager at Wayne County Child Advocacy Center
- Director of Youth and Family Services at Appleseed Community Mental Health Center and School Liaisons in Ashland, Ohio
- Director of Ashland County Council on Aging
- Director of Social Services at the Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Ashland, Ohio
- Command Sergeant Major in Army Reserve
Professor Kuo also addressed broader topics such as use of violence in the media and the impact of abuse and violence on mental health (the latter topic was covered in class by the Executive Director of the Ashland County Mental Health and Recovery Board). The Director of Medina County Job and Family Services spoke with students about the impact of adverse childhood experiences on future mental health.
Learning about family violence doesn't just prepare students for working with clients who are impacted by violence. "Elements addressed in the course - values, ethics, parenting strategies, management of conflict - weave their way through our own experiences, too," Kuo notes. "And this course teaches students options for managing conflicts that arise in their own lives as well as the lives of clients."
The topics and skills taught in the course, while valuable, can be challenging for students, some of whom may have been affected by family violence themselves. "Family violence tends to be a sensitive topic," says Kuo. "I use reflection journal assignments and debriefings to help my students process what they are learning and to cope with the impact the course may have."
Family Violence, SOCWK 305, is offered each fall and fulfills a core requirement for social sciences.