Posted: May 25th, 2022

Case study analysis for advocacy

Josie’s case represents the complexities of youth and family advocacy. Being biracial presents additional advocacy issues. Moreover, Josie has admitted to suicidal ideation. It is important to take into account the situational, environmental, and structural variables that are at the root of Josie’s behavioral problems in school, focusing advocacy on not just the family but also the school and community. It is also important to recognize that Josie’s behavioral problems might have evolved from multiple factors, inviting a multidisciplinary advocacy team.

The key risk factors impacting this case include Josie’s suicidal ideation, potential parental neglect, and the “peculiar difficulties in the developmental tasks of adolescence” that biracial children experience (Gibbs, 1987, p. 265). Advocacy also needs to focus on the home environment. Josie’s mother may not be home a lot given the financial pressures of raising a child as a single parent. In addition to difficulties forming a cohesive social identity and finding belongingness in school, Josie may be experiencing parental neglect that could be a root cause of her behavioral issues. The suicidal ideation likewise can be addressed as both related to, and separate from her personal identity.

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In the sixth grade, Josie faces the onset of adolescence already at a social and psychological disadvantage, having already exhibited behavioral problems that have had her singled out. Labeling theory would suggest that her early experiences being singled out in school, such as being kicked off of her soccer team, will present further risk factors that complicate Josie’s case. Advocacy should therefore help the school minimize the risks of labeling, while “helping foster a positive and supportive environment that enhances a child’s sense of self,” (Cunico, 2009, p. 14).

To address these three pertinent advocacy issues, it would be important to first assess Josie’s experiences at school and home to determine whether bullying in school or neglect at home have been chronic issues. Observing Josie and interviewing her teachers might be an adequate solution in the early stages. Next, it would be important to evaluate the school environment and determine methods to create a more positive and supportive environment for multiracial youth. Working with Josie’s case might stimulate comprehensive advocacy programs for other multiracial youth in this community, as research consistently shows that biracial and multiracial youth are perpetually at risk for developing behavioral problems including substance abuse due to experiences of social isolation, low self-esteem, and bullying (Udry, Li & Hendrickson-Smith, 2003).

Therefore, advocacy should include training for educators in recognizing early warning signs. For instance, Josie’s behavioral problems started at a young age, and recognizing them earlier might prevent the problems such as suicidal ideation or substance abuse. Advocacy issues that focus more on the home environment and potential neglect would be best addressed with issues like family therapy. Alternatively, advocacy could consist of introducing Josie and her mother to available community resources.

Roadblocks to successful advocacy include policy issues and the fact that multiracial youth find themselves stranded between worlds, cut off from the subcultures and communities that are formed based on strict definitions of race, class, or culture. Other roadblocks might include denial of the problems at stake, both by Josie’s mom and by her teachers or school administrators. Identity formation can be a major area of concern, and finding validation and support can also be a problem. Therefore, advocacy work would focus on developing programs to minimize race-based peer group classifications, reducing the emphasis placed on racial and social stratification.

As Rockquemore & Brunsma (2008) point out, American society has long cultivated a hierarchical stratification of racial categories, which enhances identity confusion. Transforming social and cultural norms requires active work engaging educators, students, and members of the community to create inclusive, supportive, and multicultural environments. Programs involving athletics, art, and music would be especially helpful in inspiring children from different backgrounds to work together collaboratively and minimize focus on race as a feature of identity. Advocacy work in these areas have proven successful in the past, achieving significant goals such as allowing for multi-racial self-identification on American census forms (Udry, Li & Henderson-Smith, 2003). In the classroom, similar efforts can be made to craft methods of student self-identification not based on race or ethnicity but on other unique features of child social and psychological development.

Codes of ethics of advocacy, social work, and counseling professional organizations clearly and explicitly outline the responsibility to address diversity and multiculturalism. There is an express ethical obligation to promote the best interests of all children. It may be particularly important to recognize the risk factors associated with suicidal ideation and potential substance abuse, self-harm, and behavioral problems such as those exhibited by Josie. I would address each of these issues by collaborating with social workers, counselors, and psychologists.

One of the legal and ethical concerns in this case is related to Josie’s home environment. The caseworkers need to sensitively address any potential neglect on the part of Josie’s mom in order to provide the supportive environment the child needs in order to thrive in other areas of her life (Cunico, 2009). Privacy issues may be critical in this case, as Josie has some degree of right to privacy that counselors on her team might need to be aware of, beyond the more obvious obligation to confront Josie’s mother and teachers about the suicidal ideation (Urdy, Li & Hendrickson-Smith, 2003). Ultimately, Josie’s individualized counseling would require both her and parental consent in accordance with the legal and ethical obligations of all social work and counseling professions.


Cunico, B. (2009). Meeting the needs of multi/biracial children in school and at home. Retrieved online:

Gibbs, J.T. (1987). Identity and marginality. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 57(2): 265-278.

Pack-Brown, S., Coulter, S. & Fuller, L. (2013). Multicultural counseling. In Perera-Diltz & MacCluskie, K.C. The Counselor Educator’s Survival Guide. Routledge.

Rockquemore, K.A. & Brunsma, D.L. (2008). Beyond Black: Biracial Identity in America. 2nd edition. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littleman.

Udry, J.R., Li, R.M. & Hendrickson-Smith, J. (2003). Health and behavior risks of adolescents with mixed-race identity. American Journal of Public Health 93(11): 1865-1870.

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