The power of language to frame social problems

The language that is used to frame a social problem can affect whether the public embraces it or rejects it. As an advanced human services professional practitioner, you have the power to frame social problems in a manner that shows dignity and respect for all people. On the other hand, you can worsen a problem by framing it in terms of deficits rather than strengths. For example, referring to a group of “at risk youth” may lead people to draw their own conclusions about why this group is at risk based on their own biases or misperceptions, which may only add to the stigma. Therefore, as a practitioner, it is important to be intentional about using people-first, strength-based language to frame social problems (e.g., “youth at risk for academic failure” or “youth in an underserved school district”).

You will examine how language shapes the way the public views social problems. You will also consider the importance of using people-first, strength based language to frame a problem.

To Prepare
Review the Learning Resources on using people-first, strength-based language to frame social problems.
Consider how message framing shapes the way the public views social problems.
Think about why it is important to use people-first, strength-based language to frame social problems.
Post an explanation of how language can shape the way the public views a social problem. Use a specific example of a social problem to illustrate your explanation. Then explain the importance of framing the problem from your example using people-first, strength-based language and the consequences of failing to do so.

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