Social (In)Justice

Recorded five-minute presentations for the Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase in Category F: Social (In)Justice, Projects F-01 through F-15.

Reviewers: Link to Evaluation Form


F-01: An Inquiry into the Factors that Influence Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System and their Effects on Disproportionate Minority Contact

Kyesha Dotson, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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Policymakers and researchers have attempted to explain the overrepresentation of minorities in the juvenile justice system. Research suggests that minority youth, especially Black youth, are overrepresented in every stage of the system, experience cumulative disadvantage, and receive harsher treatment than white youth charged with the same offense (Piquero, 2008).  Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) occurs when minority youth contact the system at a higher rate than their white counterparts. Historically, disproportionate minority contact was analyzed and recorded as a comparison between the population of minority youth in the juvenile justice system and the general population of minority youth.The purpose of this research is to identify the different factors that influence or contribute to the disparities that African American youth experience in the juvenile justice system.

This qualitative study has two main aims:

  1. To identify if disproportionate minority contact exists in the Greater Cincinnati area; and
  2. To identify the factors that influence disparities.

This qualitative study will elicit the views and opinions of stakeholders on the presented issues. An online survey (consisting of both closed and open-ended questions) was designed and distributed to local providers via email. The goal of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of current efforts to reduce disproportionate minority contact, and receive recommendations for what policies, programs, or initiatives that can be implemented to reduce disproportionate minority contact.


F-02: Barriers and Enablers for Fathers in the Child Welfare System

Ryan Friedhoff, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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There are many enablers and barriers for fathers in the child welfare system. This study is to investigate these enablers and barriers. It will interview fathers that are involved with Warren County Children's Services. The researcher will also interview case workers who deal with fathers in the child welfare system. It will be a descriptive qualitative study. The researcher will utilize a survey given over the phone to get the data. These findings could have big implications for social workers. This is important for the practice because there are multiple negative effects of a child not having father involvement in the case plan. The essay also examines the current peer reviewed journals on fathers in the child welfare system.

Keywords: Fathers, enablers and barriers, child welfare system


F-03: The Implementation of a Novel Health Literacy Program on Adolescent Refugees in Cincinnati

Adam Elzarka, Medical Sciences and Liberal Arts
Sonali Doshi, Medical Sciences
Project Advisor: Dr. Shanna Stryker
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As a sanctuary city, Cincinnati is home to many refugee students. These students often act as liaisons between their families and medical providers because of language barriers and the complexity of the American healthcare system. However, minimal health education is provided to these students, making it difficult for them to meet the needs of their families. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a novel health literacy program and its impact on refugee students' understanding of health.

An eight-week health literacy curriculum was developed and taught within the adolescent refugee population at Aiken High School. It included topics such as nutrition, prescriptions, mental health, health insurance, preventative care, and ethics. The modules were designed to reinforce material through active learning and heavy discussion. To evaluate the curriculum, a pre-post intervention design was implemented. The surveys used a 5-point Likert scale to ask about different facets of comprehensive and functional health literacy. Refugee adolescents are motivated to learn about basic health concepts, but require more educational opportunities and resources to supplement them. The curriculum built a foundation of health literacy by facilitating discussions on many sensitive subjects such as sex education, mental health, and substance use. Students were exposed to healthcare vocabulary and were encouraged to practice their English skills by engaging in focus groups and collaborating with peers. Additional studies are in the works to meet the limitations found from this pilot study. These include increasing the number of students and restructuring the curriculum to better accommodate this demographic.


F-04: Gender Responsiveness in the Juvenile Justice System: Punitive Outcomes Versus Rehabilitative Outcomes

Lillian Bedell, Criminal Justice and Psychology
Project Advisor: Dr. Valerie Anderson
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The Massachusetts Youth Screening Inventory-2 (MAYSI-2) is a screening tool used to measure behavioral health needs of juveniles ages 12-17. The MAYSI-2 is primarily used by the juvenile justice system, including intake, detention centers, probationary programs, and diversion programs. The criminal justice system in general was constructed in order to serve male offenders, and these male-focused responses are now being applied to the growing female offender population with little regard for efficacy. This is especially evident in juvenile populations. The current study aims to identify the differences between punitive responses and rehabilitative responses to girls in the juvenile justice system. The sample includes 411 youth from a Midwestern family and truancy court and uses data directly from case records to examine which girls have reoffended over a two-year period. The sample data includes demographic variables, risk scores, type of offense, recidivism data, and traumatic experience (TE) scores on the MAYSI-2. The current study suggests that over-punitive responses will yield higher rates of reoffending in female juvenile offenders, however it also aims to examine effects of "over-programming" as well.


F-05: Healthy Food Availability and Consumption among Latinx and African Americans in Greater Cincinnati: A Secondary Data Analysis of the Community Health Status Survey 2017

Naomi Admasu, Health Promotion & Education: Public & Community Health
Project Advisor: Dr. Liliana Guyler
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Adequate food access is correlated with healthier food intake. Food insecurity affects nutrition, health, and productivity. The study assessed health status, healthy foods consumed, food security and access in Greater Cincinnati. After IRB review, a secondary data analysis of the cross-sectional random-digit-dial Community Health Status Survey(2017) was conducted with a subsample of African American (n=896) and Latinx respondents (n=294). Results showed 38% did not meet recommended daily vegetable/fruit requirements, 42% consumed 7 or more sugary drinks weekly, 34% were food insecure, and 28% reported difficulty accessing food. Food insecurity was highest for African Americans/Blacks, non-White Latinx, females, and those living within 200% FPL. Food access was lowest among African Americans/Blacks, non-Latinx, those living within 100% FPL, and urban residents. Our communities deserve food access and security as they are critical for health improvement. Community gardens would contribute to alleviate the problem. Health disparities and causes will be discussed.


F-06: Help-Seeking Behavior and Motivation Among Individuals Experiencing Poverty

Kyler Jackson, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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Poverty's impact on motivation and help-seeking behaviors is affected by an individual's perceived norms about the process of help-seeking. This appears differently between men and women. Previous research has indicated that experiencing poverty leads to short-term decision-making due to the need to meet basic needs. Previous research has also noted a difference in help-seeking behaviors between men and women. This study used the Theory of Planned behavior to assess motivation and help-seeking beliefs in individuals who were experiencing poverty, while also tracking how it impacted their help-seeking behavior. The results were compared between men and women. Perceived norms of help-seeking were found to have the greatest impact on help-seeking behavior. This was shown to have a greater effect on men than on women.


F-07: Historically White Institutions and the Quest for Racialized Peoples to Perform Their Trauma

Nyima Coleman, Sociology
Project Advisor: Dr. Littisha Bates
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This paper seeks to analyze and uplift the realities that students of color experience within historically white institutions of higher learning. My research explores the ways in which these institutions perpetuate notions of conditional belonging to their racialized students. Specifically, I examine the implications of the ways that racialized students are continuously expected to perform trauma for their institutions. This happens in a plethora of contexts; be it interpersonal, institutional or belonging to professional opportunities that lay just outside the institution, such as fellowships and internships. I argue that marginalized students and a specific subset of our 'identity informed' experiences are often weaponized against us within academia, while masquerading as benign, beneficial, educational or even therapeutic. This work seeks to understand how this exploitative relationship affects racialized students, regarding their sense of belonging, place and value to and within their institutions. I utilize data from five in depth interviews. In these interviews, the lived experiences of my participants centered around four themes: isolation/invisibility, performance of trauma, performative diversity, and importance of community. These results illustrate both the resilient resistance of racialized students, as well as the immense amount of work left to do in the quest to make education equitable to all who exist within it. Given that this research was both a pilot project and conducted with a small sample size, it is a precursor to continued work on this topic.


F-08: Genomic Risk Assessment Study in the African-American Community

Tracey Mensah, Biological Sciences
Project Advisor: Dr. Michelle McGowan
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Genomics is failing in terms of diversity. In a genome-wide association study (GWAS) the population database revealed 96% of the participants were of European descent (Popejoy and Fullerton, 2016); This may be a disadvantage to minority groups in terms of early detection and preventive action. Moreover, the genetic ancestry of the participants in population genetic databases limits the efficacy of precision medicine for minority groups; participants of non-European descent are more likely to receive unclear or uncertain results due to unknown variants from the lack of diversity.  Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) and eMERGE will work together to inform the importance of polygenic risk scores for 17 diseases. We plan to enroll 2500 African Americans into the study to test whether knowledge of having high genetic risk scores will help reduce disease risk through recommendations and whether focus groups will be an effective way to learn about values when it comes to enrolling in polygenic resources. With that, our study's first aim is to inform the intervention trial that involves forming focus groups and using educational materials to help introduce and inform adults, specifically Black women and parents of children ages 3-17, about polygenic risk scores and how they relate to common diseases. On an online platform, informational topics will be developed and delivered via a PowerPoint presentation. The research will gather data using a guide that contains written questions and topics for focus groups. We hope to share this information with the eMERGE network and future studies.


F-09: Polygenic Risk Scores for Healthier African American Families

Jill Ntim, Biological Sciences
Project Advisor: Dr. Michelle McGowan
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The goal of this study is to determine if having a higher genetic risk for a disorder will motivate individuals to have a closer adherence to health recommendations made to reduce disease risk. The research team plans on recruiting mother-child dyads with kids ranging from 3 to 17. Researchers plan on generating polygenic risk scores and genomic risk estimates on diabetes, asthma, and obesity for kids. The list for adults includes: abdominal aortic aneurysm, atrial fibrillation, breast cancer, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease, colon cancer, depression, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, lupus, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, prostate cancer, stroke, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and asthma. Then researchers plan on returning results to care providers, parents, or guardians when determined as appropriate. The first phase of the study will focus on the ethical, legal, and social implications of polygenic risk scores. Researchers will use focus groups to discover the values of parents, specifically black women through educating them on the topic as well as learning more about their wants and needs. Researchers want to provide an educational introduction to genetic testing and polygenic risk scores. The information that will be provided includes a brief overview of genetic testing, a clear definition of polygenic risk scores, how polygenic risk scores differ from other single gene testing for diseases such as hereditary and ovarian cancer, sample draft reports, and education needs assessments. During these discussions, hypothetical choices will be used to aid the discussion. Participants will have the chance to make decisions


F-10: Society's Influence on Police Departments' Social Media

Jacqualyn Link, Criminal Justice
Project Advisor: Dr. Joseph Nedelec
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An issue in today's time is how people react to society's influence. Ohio Police departments are no exception. Looking at how large politicized events prevalence of Black Lives Matter movement effect on police twitter scrutiny. From January 1st, 2020 through December 31st, 2020 there has been a noticeable change in the message the police departments have been portraying to the public.


F-11: The Influence of Social Determinants of Health on Fetal Growth within an Inner-City Obstetrics Population

Marija Jovanovic, Biological Sciences and Neuroscience
Project Advisor: Dr. Emily DeFranco
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We performed an investigation among an inner city obstetrics population in Cincinnati, Ohio aiming to discover what social determinants of health have potential effect on births complicated by fetal growth restriction, defined by birthweight percentile, compared to normal births. Common caused of fetal growth restriction includes uteroplacental insufficiency, which has potential to be influenced by different factors like medical, environmental, familial, behavioral and social determinants of health factors.


F-12: The Legal Rights and Community Resources of Refugees, Asylees, and Undocumented Immigrants: Assessing Immigration Law's Shortcomings and the Institutions that Fill the Gaps

Zachary Love, Political Science and International Affairs
Pablo Ruiz, Political Science and International Affairs
Project Advisor: Dr. Andrew Lewis
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Undocumented immigrants, asylees, and refugees make up a sizable portion of the United States population. Immigration law, the field of law that governs these communities and establishes their rights and benefits, is incredibly complex not just in its legal codification but in its daily practice as well. The complexity and structure behind immigration law have resulted in a type of law in which even the slightest absence of legislation provisions can cause immense disparities between each community when that law is put into practice. As a result, nonprofit organizations and legal aid networks are forced to tirelessly attempt to bridge the gaps that U.S. immigration law creates between the communities.

The goal of this collaborative research project was to first determine what disparities in legal rights and benefits U.S. immigration law in practice creates between undocumented immigrants, asylees, and refugees, and then to analyze what community resources try to alleviate the inequities legislation creates. We consulted various legal resources, referenced scholarly works of the social sciences, and held extensive interviews with immigration attorneys and members of the immigrant communities to help guide our research.

Our findings showed the refugee community is at a large advantage in holding protected rights and privileges and having community resource support compared to asylees and undocumented immigrants. Asylees have protected rights that do not always occur in practice, forcing them to regularly seek out community resources. Undocumented immigrants are the most vulnerable community, though their vulnerability sometimes puts them at a unique advantage.


F-13: Understanding the Shortages of Male Volunteers and Barriers to Mentoring Youth-at-Risk

Marrieth Sithe, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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The purpose of my qualitative research study is to explore recruitment strategies to understand the shortages, barriers, and constraints of male volunteers in the Big Brothers big Sisters of Hamilton county's one-to-one site-based or community-based mentoring programs. The programs cater of youth-at-risk ages 6-18 years old who have been exposed to Childhood Adverse Experiences. The mentoring program prevents some of the youth from entering the juvenile justice system due to risky behaviors. Past data shows that boys stay longer on the agency  waiting list than girls  because there are not enough males signing up to volunteer. My research study examines existing data and ideas by taking a fresh look for unknown strategies or techniques. This research study will utilize a sample from current mentors in the programs and four coordinators. Randomly selected participants will give responses to eight questions on a survey. Findings from literature review on past studies confirm that youth who receive one-to-one mentoring have higher socio-emotional functioning, improved scholastic achievement, positive self-image, quality peer relationships, fewer risky behaviors, and reduced missed school attendance. The study explores gaps in the recruitment strategies and identifies potential mechanism that could be used to attract male mentors.

Keywords: youth-at-risk, risky behaviors, socio-emotional functioning, one-to-one mentoring, gender balance


F-14: Reproductive Healthcare

Karrington Rainey, Sociology
Project Advisor: Dr. Danielle Bessett
Watch presentation (link coming soon)

Our medical sociology research team has dedicated their time to look into the challenges that women face when it comes to their reproductive health. We will be looking at different challenges women face when they are receiving abortion care. We use surveys and interviews to analyze patients' experiences.


F-15: The Reclamation and Commodification of the N-word

Julius Freeman, Psychology and Communication
Project Advisor: Dr. Marcus Brooks
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This research project is an in-depth look at the N-word and why it is so controversial in our society. There is a gap of knowledge in how the N-word became such unique colloquialism in American society and how it became micro representation of the macro discussion about race. The perspective of this project is that the word reclaimed by African Americans after it had been used to oppress for centuries. During that reclamation the word became significant part of hip-hop/ rap culture and by the astronomical spread of hip-hop, now being the number one genre in America, the word is now inextricably linked to the American mind and vernacular. The spread of the n-word into communities that may not know the full context came through free market of capitalism, more specifically a concept called capitalist recuperation. There are few questions being answered in this research project, which are about when did the reclamation of the n-word happen, was there a moment or person that embodied that reclamation, and how the n-word became a significant phenomenon in popular culture. This research will go further than this project, but this is to establish a foundation and understanding how then-word gained its prominence in American culture.