Vulnerable children risk being ‘re-traumatised’ by services designed to help them, charity warns.
A new report by YoungMinds found schools, social workers, police and NHS staff are inadvertently re-traumatising vulnerable children because of fundamental misunderstandings about their behaviour.
Children who have suffered abuse or neglect frequently express themselves through aggressive or self-destructive behaviour, the youth charity said. This behaviour is often viewed as ‘the problem’ and the cause of the trauma is neglected.
This leads to traumatised children sometimes not receiving the mental health care they need.
‘The last thing vulnerable children need is to be re-traumatised by services that should be helping them,’ Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said.
‘Across the board, services need to focus less on ‘correcting’ behaviour, and more on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of childhood trauma,’ Ms Brennan continued.
‘There are social and financial gains for the young person - but also the whole of society by doing this. Not doing anything makes no sense at all.’
YoungMinds reported one in three adult mental health problems stem from ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ – including abuse, neglect, taking on adult responsibilities, prejudice and bereavement.
The charity’s report, entitled Beyond Adversity, will be launched at a roundtable event in Parliament on 12 July.
It recommends that children who have had traumatic experiences should be fast-tracked for mental health support when they need it, even if they do not meet the usual thresholds for those services.
It also proposes more training for doctors, teachers, social workers, police officers and charities, and calls on the Government to establish an expert group to improve understanding of adverse experiences in childhood and to ensure treatment is consistent across the country.