JS is a in the second grade. He resides in two households with his divorced parents who share equal custody of him and his younger sister, age 5.
JS was referred by his teacher for bullying behavior that includes calling his peers names, wishing they were dead and hitting, chasing and threatening to hurt them. Teacher reports that at least two parents of peers have complained that JS has stalked their children, refusing to leave them alone and continuing to torment them with bullying behavior in spite of their efforts to avoid him. Teacher also reports JS refusal to follow directions/heed warnings, start or complete work, bullying/oppositional and conflict-seeking behavior and denial of personal responsibility. She reports that he continuously insists that he is being unfairly blamed, targeted and persecuted. Both parents report chronic lying and daily behaviors that include: refusing to follow their directions and teasing/hitting his sister. They deny incidents of tantrums and report that he seems unperturbed by negative consequences (that include occasional spankings), suggesting that his crying is an act designed to manipulate them. Both teacher and parents express worry that JS seems to lack empathy and that he has no friends. Parents both report that JS has difficulty falling and staying sleep, often awakening in the middle of the night. Finally, both parents and teacher report a drastic and short-lived improvement of his behavior after his mother recently threatened to send him to what he reported to the social work intern as a boring school, a place he described (based on his mothers explanation) as a faraway place where you can live with bad children and have to dig up your own food from the ground and you cant see or call your parents and there is no TV or video games.
Current (During time of Intake) and Historical Information
Parents report no complications at birth and that he met all age-appropriate physical/cognitive milestones. They report no problems with toilet training and that he developed and currently demonstrates all age appropriate activities of daily living. Teacher reports that the bullying behavior started in the previous year in first grade and that peers have been removed from JSs class at the request of their concerned parents during this year and last. Parents report that behaviors at home and difficulty with sleep started when JS was about 4 years old. JS has complained of having no friends since kindergarten. Significant historical events:
- Mothers diagnosis of stage-4 breast cancer that threatened her unborn child (JSs sister) when he was three years old
- Parents divorce when he was 5 and a half years old
- Deaths of paternal and maternal grandfathers (at age 5 and 6)
JSs father reports that when JS was age 2-3 years, his mother was mostly absent as she received cancer treatment and that as baby and mother survived. JSs father reports that his wife felt he had not adequately met her physical and emotional needs during her health crises, which combined with her excessive alcohol consumption, precipitated the decline of their marriage. Both parents report that JS witnessed at least two incidents of domestic violence that resulted in police intervention at the home. JS reports that both parents fall asleep sometimes after drinking grown up drinks. During interviews, both parents engaged in critical, back and forth with each other. JS reports same pattern of interaction during . Both parents are devout Roman Catholics and their church is an important spiritual/social resource from them/JS. Father reports that JS seemed unphased by the deaths of his grandfathers (with whom he had close relationships) but suggested that their familys religious beliefs might be a support. JS received therapeutic services for 4 months following his mothers move into a separate household when he was 6 years old and he received 9 months of school-based social work services that consisted of weekly 30-minute sessions during the prior year.
Clinton Elementary School
The Elementary School Social Work program services all of the elementary school schools in the South Orange/Maplewood school district. Last year I was assigned to Clinton Elementary School located in Maplewood, NJ. The school is an ELL/ESL magnet school therefore most of the students who are new to the district and/or need assistance with English as a second language are automatically sent to Clinton. The grades include Kindergarten to 5th grade. My initial observation is that of a large population of Caucasians. There is also a strong presence of African American, Asians, and very little Latinos. There are also a large number of students who are multiracial. With regards to social economic status, some children live in the higher income location of South Orange while other students live in the mid to low income location of Maplewood. There are also a few children in special education classes and one student who is physically disabled.