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Section 3.07.00: General Guidelines

Safety Training Webinar
Many students arrive at their field placement with concerns about personal safety that can significantly impact their learning opportunities and their experiences. The U-M SSW strives to make students aware of safety issues and to prepare them to handle potentially dangerous situations. A safety orientation webinar is under MySSW on the School of Social Work website, search "Field Safety Webinar".

Content includes raising personal awareness, warning signs, intervention skills to de-escalate potentially violent client situations, prevention, intuition, and management of dangerous situations at home, on the street, while traveling, in public places, and in field. Because safety issues relate to field, campus life, and other settings, general information about risk assessment and reduction is important. This information can be used to assess environmental risk levels, determine if a client or another individual could be dangerous, make decisions about managing risky situations, or protect oneself or clients.

The Goals of the Safety Webinar
- Provide content that is consistent with social work values and principles and congruent with the School's curriculum.
- Help students develop a framework and various options for responding to potential dangers.
- Raise student consciousness about potential violence and place such violence in a contextual frame so that students maintain empathy with clients.
- Place emphasis on preventing violence by providing students with knowledge of precautionary measures, including alertness to possible danger signals about the immediate environment and behavior of clients.
- Encourage students to assume responsibility for their own safety and to trust their feelings and intuition.

Guidelines for Risk Management
It is sometimes difficult to predict when dangerous incidents will occur. The factors most often considered to be predictors are: history of violent behavior, and abuse of drugs and/or alcohol. Aggressive behavior may be direct or indirect; determinants include fear, anger, over-stress, chemical alteration, need for attention or power, and paranoia. The important variable is the intent or perceived intent of the individual who appears to be dangerous. It is important to determine whether the behavior is a characteristic adaptive style or if it is reactive to a particular situation. However, the best protection in a threatened or actual assault is to follow one's intuition. Problem-solving skills are also transferable to risky situations: gather data, evaluate the information, decide on a course of action based on the evaluation, implement it, evaluate the outcome and adjust accordingly. This process may occur in an instant or over a longer period of time.

Several basic goals should be the focus of all risk management programs. They include the following:
- Protect the client, staff, and others in the environment
- Help the individual gain control with the least amount of pain and guilt
- Help the individual focus on the source of anger, fear, frustration, etc.
- Assist the individual to express these feelings verbally rather than in actions


Additional resources can be found here on the NASW website: https://www.socialworkers.org/Practice/Social-Work-Safety

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