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Why listening to the voices and views of children and young people should be the basis for promoting their social and emotional competence. Sir Al Aynsley-Green Kt. Professor Emeritus ,University College London Former Children’s Commissioner for England

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Why listening to the voices and views of children and young people should be the basis for promoting their social and emotional competence.

Sir Al Aynsley-Green Kt.

Professor Emeritus ,University College London

Former Children’s Commissioner for England

Chair, Anglican Diocesan Board of Education

Patron, Childhood Bereavement Network

the death of a loved one a devastating life experience challenging emotional resilience
The death of a loved one – a devastating life experience challenging emotional resilience
  • Harrowing stories
  • Enormous courage
  • Opportunity to meet
  • Ability to talk about and share grief
  • Understand they are not alone
  • Receive personalised support
  • Allow life to continue
  • It’s possible still to have fun
  • Successful role models despite tragedy
slide3

Winston’s Wish December 2009

Celebrating the memory of a loved one

bereaved children today death is the great taboo subject
Bereaved children today: death is the great taboo subject*

An under-recognised and often poorly managed issue

  • ~20,000 children each year
  • A child experiences

bereavement every 22 minutes

Who can they turn to?

the huge diversity of need
The huge diversity of need
  • Wide range of family structures, resilience and beliefs
  • Range of ages – toddlers to adolescents
  • Expected death
  • Unexpected death
  • Violent death

A massive challenge to the design and delivery of

effective support services

No one size fits all!

cautionary notes
Cautionary notes
  • Crucial importance of not making bereavement a pathological entity with a sense of failure
  • Many children and families cope well, but we should not underestimate the overwhelming challenge
  • ‘In many ways it is not so much who died and how and why, what really matters is the child’s attitude to the family death, how they make sense of it, and what story they tell to people they trust’
  • 10-yr follow up of supported children show that they can and do grow up with a resilient mind set and achieve their full potential
but overall bereaved children
BUT: overall, bereaved children

Visit primary care more

At risk for immediate and long term mental health problems

Have low self esteem and may be bullied

Difficulty forming relationships

At risk for physical and sexual abuse

Teenage girls increased risk of pregnancy

More likely to misuse substances and commit serious crime

More likely to be taken into care & excluded from school

Underachieve

Where does this fit on your radar screen?

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Many young people tell us:

  • ‘Nobody understands’
  • ‘I’ve got nobody to talk to’
  • ‘I get bullied at school and the teachers punish me for not doing my homework on time’
  • ‘I really needed help when my mum died’

If families can’t help, who can they turn to?

death is a reality for every school
Death is a reality for every school

Death of a

  • Student
  • Teacher or other member of staff
  • Parent or family member

Death can be

  • Expected
  • Unexpected
  • Violent or traumatic

Should schools be better prepared?

slide10

Essential resources

+ Knowledge of local support organisations

slide11

Let’s celebrate wonderful people

The Laura Centre, Leicester

Helen and Douglas House, Oxford

slide12

Wonderful practices

The ‘Little Room’ Helen House

what do bereaved children need
What do bereaved children need?

Information and education on what death means

Encourage to talk about how they feel

Understand and express their grief

Meet others and share experiences

Opportunities to remember

Access to support

What does this mean for schools & primary

health care? – think adult think child!

grief in childhood a paradigm for emotional and mental resilience
Grief in childhood – a paradigm for emotional and mental resilience.
  • Recognising that there is an issue
  • Getting facts
  • Listening to children and young people
  • Providing appropriate and accessible services
  • Adequate and auditable training
  • Underpinned by research
  • Effective political advocacy for resources

The crucial need for someone to turn to!

slide16

Listening to grief in young people in prison

Lancaster Farms

Werrington

Feltham

Unresolved grief ++

a vision for the future
A vision for the future:
  • In every locality children, young people and families will know how to access expert support appropriate to the family or child’s needs.
  • In every school there will be staff trained to understand how to support emotional needs of grieving children.
  • A National Virtual Centre for Grief in Childhood for excellence in research, teaching and training to support service delivery

What does this mean for you?

slide18

The Good Childhood Inquiry 2009

  • A searing commentary
  • on childhood today:
  • Excessive individualism
  • Soaring family breakdown
  • Commercialisation
  • Overly-competitive education
  • Dire poverty

What does this mean for emotional well being and resilience?

the context of emotional and mental health in childhood
The context of emotional and mental health in childhood:
  • 1 in 10 children has a diagnosable mental health disorder
  • Highest rate of self harm in Europe in UK
  • Particularly vulnerable groups
    • Asylum seekers
    • Young carers
    • Children in care
    • Disability
    • Children who have been abused
    • Bereavement
    • Hidden harm - young people with drug or alcohol issues

Who can they turn to?

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Exposing hidden harm:

  • 300,000 children with drug misusing parent
  • 850,000 children with alcohol misusing parent - Impact of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
  • 160,000 children of prisoners
  • Parental mental health: < 50% of adult mental health users are parents
  • Domestic violence: 700,000 recorded episodes in 1 year
  • 175,000 young carers in the UK – high risk of mental health problems

Who can they turn to?

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Listening to those with

physical and learning

disability

Who can they turn to?

the burden of mental health for schools
The burden of mental health for schools

In a 1000 student secondary school, at any one time:

  • 100 will be suffering significant mental illness
  • 50 pupils will be seriously depressed
  • 10-20 pupils will have an obsessive compulsive disorder
  • 5-10 girls will be affected by eating disorders
  • 35-60 are bereaved of someone close

BUT:

  • Only 25% of CYP with clinically significant mental health problems will be accessing the services they need.

Who can they turn to?

how can we promote emotional resilience
How can we promote emotional resilience

Someone to turn to

Confidentiality

Non-stigmatising

Appropriate setting and environment

Properly trained staff

Whole school environment

Crucial importance of the head teacher

Primary SEAL(Social & Emotional Aspects of Learning)

Secondary SEAL

UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools

Roots of Empathy

slide25

Someone to turn to – in school

A School Drop-in Centre

The ‘Tic Tac’ centre Paignton Community College

someone to turn to
Someone to turn to:
  • The staggering success of Child Line
  • Exposes the huge unmet needs of children & young people
  • Many thousands are unable to access the services

We need more people for children to turn to

a framework for responsible listening action unicef rights respecting schools
A framework for responsible listening & action - UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools
  • Children from RRR
  • Schools in Andover,
  • Hampshire

Respect, Responsibility and Rights

rights respecting rrr ethos
‘Rights Respecting’ (RRR) ethos

Evaluation suggests wide benefits:

Improved empathy & pro-social behaviour (less bullying and aggression)

Enhanced school democracy

Increased personal confidence and enthusiasm for learning

Greater awareness of international issues

Greater support for diversity and inclusion

Being introduced in pre-school settings

Rights Respecting Communities in Hampshire: continuity across ages and services

slide31

Witnessing baby development:

- the basis for empathy and parenting

Winnipeg, Canada

wrap up
Wrap-up!!
  • Someone to turn to
  • Bereavement – services, organisation, training and research
  • Childhood today, and international indicators
  • Mental and emotional ill health – context, burden and impact on schools
  • Awareness of the needs of the most vulnerable
  • Promoting emotional resilience
  • Listening to the voices of children and young people
  • What works and how do you know you do any good?
slide35
So, what does all of this mean for YOU?Identify one Action you will do tomorrow that you hadn’t thought of until now!!
thank you for listening

Thank you for listening!

www.aynsley-green.com