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Category Archives: The Good Guys

Call to Duty – School Stress

SCHOOL STRESS: Rewrite the Rules

Young Minds consultations with young people revealed that school stress is another issue young people are trying to manage. The research outlined:

> Over half of the children and young people we asked believe they will be a failure if they don’t get good grades.
> 82% of young people said schools should prepare pupils for life, not just exams, by teaching them how to cope when life is tough.

Young people are asking for:

> schools to help us deal with all the stresses of growing up, and help us to be strong for our future life as well as for our academic work.
> Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) lessons to be compulsory.
> school inspections to look at how our schools are helping us to become strong and able to deal with our problems.
> schools to provide more support young people who are suffering stress, anxiety and depression, including access to counselling.

Children and young people spend a large proportion of their lives in schools and it is crucial to establish these as safe places where they can get help for a range of issues. It is disheartening to learn of some of the things children and young people are experiencing in schools from teachers and peers alike. But, that is a topic for another time. What the young people in this consultation are talking about is support. Tangible support that addresses issues of their education but also those things that impact their education such as their emotional health and well being. I think a few things, in addition to what young people are asking for,  can help with this.

> having clinical social workers – even if just term time or sessional – in schools available for drop in sessions

> referral pathways from schools straight to counselling services

> psychologists – again either tem time only or sessional – that can aid those young people who may be presenting with early onset mental health issues

> group work at transitional phases for children and young people – i.e. moving on from primary school. moving on from secondary school etc. These don’t have to be psycho-educational groups, they can focus on activities to help build resilience, teach coping skills and give a realistic view of the changes that are to come.

> buddy systems – pairing younger children with older children who have proven themselves to excel academically but are also exhibiting leadership characteristics and are of positive influence to peers. It would help both the younger child acclimate to new surroundings and deal with some of the school stress. But it would also help the older child as this is a skill that can be take further and possible used to gain employment or other opportunities.

As Social Workers we often don’t come into the lives of children and young people until something has gone very wrong. This doesn’t have to be the case. Having social workers in schools, or even teaching some basic clinical skills to support workers in schools, could have a major impact in getting children and young people the support they are requesting. We have a duty to safeguard their well being. We have a duty to ensure they enjoy and achieve and are able to make positive contributions to society. We can be creative about the ways in which we teach them to do these things.

Parents are critical partners is helping children and young people succeed. Teachers and school staff play a large role in their lives but parents are the rearing the, teaching them standards and morals and leading by example. Parents have to take responsibility for what their children experience at home. They have to take responsibility for setting realistic expectations that don’t leave their children feeling burdened or that they are being set up to fail. Parents have to step up and ensure their children have the best possible life chances without the trauma of failure looming over their heads. I am not suggesting encouraging children to only do those things at which they will succeed, because we all know that in those moments where things don’t go the way we expected, we can experience real growth. What I am saying is that if teachers and school staff are realistically going to help our children succeed and give them the support they need, parents need to play a role in ensuring the right messages are being given and carried through. Parents, teachers and school staff alike need to be able to recognise children and young people’s strengths, maximizing these while helping them to get better at those things where they are not the strongest. Developing partnerships supports parents in addressing difficult issues but it also surrounds children and young people with a network of support and allows the lines of communication between children and parents to be open.It gives children and young people multiple avenues for accessing help.

We also need to be mindful of the pressures that high achievement or pressure to achieve can place on children and young people. There should certainly be expectations but these should be proportionate to the skills and abilities of young people. This is why the partnership between parents and educators is so crucial; each will hold a significant amount of information about a child or young person that each will need to ensure that child or young person’s success. It cannot be left to one person to provide everything a child needs, though there are expectations of everyone involved in the life of a child.

We have a duty to our young people and we need to make sure we can answer that call.

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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in The Good Guys

 

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Call to Duty – Sex Education

SEXED UP: Don’t believe the hype

Young Minds consultations with young people revealed that sexual pressures rate highly in issues they are facing today. The research outlined:

> Over half of 11-14 year olds have viewed online pornography, with 4 out of 10 believing it has affected their relationships.
> 75% of young people want sex education that gives them the chance to talk about sex and relationships.

Young people are asking for:

> every school to ensure we get sex education that helps us understand more about relationships, and how to say what we want and don’t want.
> sex education that gives us the chance to talk about pornography and how it affects us.
> safe spaces where we can talk about sexual pressures online, in school and youth centres.
> more information about sexting so everyone understands the bad things that can happen if we do it.
> more help and advice for parents and carers so they understand how to talk to us about sex in sensitive ways.

The government states that primary schools should have a sexual education program that caters to the age, emotional maturity and physical maturity of students. However, the language is different for secondary schools. Sexual education is compulsory from age 11+; that means secondary schools must have sex and relationship education as part of the basic curriculum. Schools must have a written policy on sex and relationship education freely available to parents. Part of the sex and relationship curriculum is compulsory as part of the national curriculum of science. Parents are able to withdraw their children from other parts of the curriculum and schools need to cater to this.

There is a sex and relationship guidance for education in teaching the subject. It guides on such topics as menstruation, abortion, puberty, sexual identity and orientation.

There are organisations that are helping to educate young people about sex and sexual exploitation.Brook provides services and advice for young people under 25 on contraception, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. Bish is a website offering sex and relationships advice for young people. National Children’s Bureau is a national children’s charity. They run the Sex Education Forum, which offers support and guidance on sex and relationships education for teachers and parents.  Read more at http://www.fpa.org.uk/where-get-help/where-else-can-i-get-help#URB2toLp8mwgxd7C.99. They have resources for young people, parents and professionals.

As Social Workers we can talk to children and young people about sex – what they know, what they don’t, what they’ve done and how much of it was consensual or due to pressures. We can help reassure them that they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do and direct them to professionals who can help but most of all we can be listening ear and review information with them that will help them develop the ability to make informed decisions about sex. We can help them distinguish between what is “pornographic myth” and what is a healthy sexual relationship as well as what constitutes healthy relationships.

But sexual education is not explicitly the responsibility of schools, social workers, youth workers or other professionals. Parents have to take responsibility for talking to their children about sex. Parents need to be able to create safe spaces for their children to ask honest questions and report when something has happened to them, without judgement. Professionals spend minimal time with children and young people. Parents are their primary safeguarders, the people who are the closest and responsible for their general well being. It needs to be a partnership. Parents need to be having these conversations to avoid children and young people from going to inappropriate sources for their sexual education. Where there is a need for support, where parents don’t know how to have those conversations, it would be beneficial for them to sit in with professionals to start the conversation. Developing this partnership supports parents in addressing difficult issues but it also surrounds children and young people with a network of support and allows the lines of communication between children and parents to be open. Where parents are not best placed to have these conversations – and we have to be realistic because some children and young people live with parents with histories of unhealthy relationships and interactions with sex – professionals need to be comfortable having these conversations without judgement or any agenda other than educating young people on the realities of sex and sexual relationships.

We also need to remember the links between sex among young people and low self esteem, the need for attention and their natural development. They need to understands what is considered “normal” (for lack of a better word) sexual development and what exploitation is, what sexual blackmail is, what coercion is and why these things are harmful. We have a duty to our young people and we need to make sure we can answer that call.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in The Good Guys

 

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FGM – the Government’s response

The local government has taken a stance on female genital mutilation. They have introduced legislation that allows for protection orders to save girls at risk and women who have experienced female genital mutilation. I think it is important as social workers we make ourselves aware of the services to help safeguard women and girls from harmful practices.

Have any of you ever worked with victims of female genital mutilation or honour based violence?

I would love to hear about the support your agencies offer or the services you’ve accessed that really help.

please share as I would like to get a dialogue going about how social workers as supporting women and girls around these issues.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/female-genital-mutilation-proposal-to-introduce-a-civil-protection-order

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in The Good Guys, The Social World

 

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Confronting Racism

shoutingThe Root reported that there has been heavy backlash for Steve Harvey who invited Paula Deen to mentor the 100 young Black men at his mentoring camp.

For those that don’t know Deen is thought to be a racist. Now usually I wouldn’t support our young people being exposed to racists but I can see the value in what he is doing. (Steve has reportedly said he didn’t care what people thought and social media is calling for the parents of the boys to take action.)

The value is in the lessons the could be learned from this; because while the camp is more that likely providing them with great skills they are also in a silo. There is great potential for them to learn:
– how to prove your haters wrong
– coping skills in dealing with people who think little of you
– understanding the view of black people by others
– learning to get something you need or want from someone who wouldn’t otherwise give it to you
– learning to manage opposing views
– confronting Racism or any issue head on instead of running from it
– working with those who may be an enemy

It is possible that good can come from this. But, as always, emotion has driven people to act before understanding. What I would say to the parents is to question:

– what is his rational

– what will the boys possibly get out of this

– what will they learn

– how will they protect the boys from anything that will cause lasting damage

– how are they going to manage conflict and confrontation

– why exactly did he think this was a good idea

– of all the chefs in the world, why this one

…and then make their decision whether or not they want their son(s) to take part. There has to be a reason. Instead of jumping to conclusions and assumption based outrage, ask questions, challenge – the parents have a right to ask so they can protect their children.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2014 in Race, The Good Guys, The Social World

 

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Speaking out on sexual abuse

On Saturday I went to an afternoon to to raise awareness about sexual abuse. It was a very moving and emotional afternoon as people shared their stories. What struck me the most was a statement by the organizer. She said “there is a cost for telling the truth.” It touched me as she said it because it so easily summarises her traumatic experience but it also has so much depth and meaning.

I  continued to reflect on this and realised the importance of it in being a social worker. How often do we think about the cost of the truth we’re requesting from clients? Is this even a consideration or is the expectation that information will be shared openly and honestly?

Sexual abuse inspires emotions in victims that are almost unbearable – anger, shame, guilt, self hatred, low self image, low to no self worth and the list goes on. The consequences of sexual abuse are born by the victims themselves and sometimes society at large as it is estimated  that  50% of runaway girls and boys, 70% of adolescent drug addicts and 60% of young prostitutes were the victims of sexual abuse (@MosacMoms). It was difficult to sit with in the room but also a day of inspiration. Daughters Arise (twitter: DAriseCiC) is an organisation based in South London helping women to deal with their abuse. They offer support and activities to help combat the feelings of isolation. @DAriseCIC are doing some amazing work and with links to organisations like MOSAC (mothers of sexually abused children) and NAPAC (national association for people abuse in childhood) they are helping a population of  people hidden for too long. We need to help rebuild the lives of those young women who are to brutally disrupted by sexual abuse @NAPAC.

Daughter Arise  mosac

NAPAC

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in The Good Guys

 

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Less Talk About Racism, More Talk About Policy

Less Talk About Racism, More Talk About Policy

I have been thinking the same thing. There needs to be less of the same old conversations and more strategizing and action to make changes – in addition to policy. Many are saying it; now we just need to get together and make it happen.

Social Justice Solutions

I will go out on the limb here and say more talk about racism will do little to change the plight of the good citizens of Ferguson or the poor and middle class in this country in the near term.   What is needed is more talk about policy.  …

Full Story @ http://sjs.li/1o68BL3
#Ferguson, #Racism

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Posted by on September 7, 2014 in Race, The Good Guys

 

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