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How can we understand the needs of children with traumatic backgrounds and experiences in our schools?
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For Parents and Carers of Children with Traumatic Backgrounds
Since our inception as a training provider, I have consistently been asked to help families with issues around violence in the home environment, often influenced by brain injury, autistic spectrum disorders and early childhood trauma. My name is Gerard O’Dea and I have been the owner/operator of a violence management training company since 2006.
Today though, I want to introduce you to Sarah Naish, and a conversation that I had with her recently. Sarah is an author and an expert on therapeutic parenting. We’ve been working together for a while on strategies for parents who are at home and have to deal with managing violent behaviour from child to parent.
Sarah has created training resources and published materials which are really useful for both parents and children to understand the very powerful feelings that can emerge when a child has a traumatic background, or has experienced real adversity as they’ve been developing, and can present with behaviours that are very difficult for adults and parents to understand and deal with.
Gerard O’Dea, Director of Training
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Watch the full interview with Sarah Naish and Gerard O’Dea to hear about:
- The issues of Child-to-Parent violence
- How schools can be supportive
- the experience of children going to school
- Cortisol and Violence
- The issue of fear
- How to manage the ‘don’t touch’ culture
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“The reason that we devised this two day course, which actually has taken many years of our joint experience to come up with, is because this is what people need. And I know having been in that situation, working with a lot of parents who feel so disempowered and so desperate – and I’m sure teachers are feeling that way as well. It is two days out of the parent or carer’s life, but it does change everything. It changes the dynamic, which is really important.
I know, as an adopter, that if I had not had the correct training myself, I don’t know how I would’ve got my children safely to adulthood with our relationship intact.
So it’s that fundamental. As a therapeutic parent, you are the unassailable safe base. If the child’s kicking and punching you, you are not unassailable, you are unsafe. And if you’re an unsafe parent, the children will feel unsafe. So there’s no shortcut to that I’m afraid.”
Sarah NAISH – Author of “A-Z of Therapeutic Parenting: Strategies and Solutions”
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Here is another video where Gerard lays out in detail the legal position in regard to managing violence from child-to-parent:
- Violence from child to parent is a fact. It is reported by some of the most professional, but vulnerable and hard-working foster, adoptive and natural parents of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.
- Local Authorities and agencies have a duty of care under health and safety law (HSAW 1974 s.2 and s.3) for the people who are effected by work engaged in by those organisations, either as workers or as those effected by the work.
- Risk assessments under health and safety law (MHSWR 1999 r.3) must cover, by definition, any risks arising from violent or aggressive behaviour which are attendant to the work.
- Work related violence is a recognised health, safety and wellbeing issue.
- Management regulations (MHSWR 1999 r.8A) create a duty to inform workers of known serious or imminent danger that they may confront in their work, and the steps being taken, or to be taken by those workers, to protect them from such danger.
- De-escalation training is very important and so it must be carried out in the context of the child’s previous trauma and the effect that neglect, violence, extreme fear has had on the child’s developing brain structure, function and consequent behaviour.
- There is no guarantee that every situation can be ‘talked down’. Therefore there are inevitably situations where parents or carers may find it ultimately necessary to use force as a last resort to create safety from chaotic, high-risk circumstances.
- The law allows a person to use force in the pursuit of certain public or private interests. Any instruction to a parent or carer that they are “not allowed to use force / restraint / holding” is incompatible with the law.
- The Children Act – Fostering Regulations address a number of issues relating to behaviour, de-escalation, withdrawal, and use of physical force / restraint but do not in any way prohibit parents or carers from using reasonable force.
- Both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Children Act 1989 hold the child’s welfare as the paramount consideration. Restricting the actions of those responsible for the child’s care, in the interests of an erroneous understanding of the law or the risks, could be promoting an organisation’s unlawful policy (or an incompetent person’s opinion) over that of the child’s welfare.
- Where a parent or carer was denied the right to use force, and the result was a loss of life, then the trail of evidence could lead to negligent advice, lack of – or inadequate – training or information provision by a public body – a potential breach of Human Rights Act 1998 Article 2 known as “the right to life”. Criminal liability could attach to responsible persons implicated in such operational decisions under the Health and Safety Offences Act or Corporate Manslaughter Act.
- Training is specifically required in the MHSWR 1999 Regulation 13 as a requirement when workers are recruited into the undertaking, or when they are exposed to new or increased risks while engaged in the work.
- Local Authorities have vicarious liability for the actions of foster parents (Supreme Court Armes v Nottinghamshire CC)
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Professionals who will benefit most from this information:
- Childrens Social Workers
- Independent Fostering Advisors
- Managers of Fostering Agencies
- Foster Parents
- Adoptive Parents
- Management of Violence and Aggression Advisors (NHS)
- NHS / Health Services Advisors
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