This is my childhood; there will be no other
Domestic violence, substance misuse and chronic mental health problems are together a toxic environment for very young children, the professionals who have to judge their safety often need more support themselves in increasing their knowledge base and their skill set to do the best they can for the families.
Children are subjected to so many negative stimuli from when they are conceived until at least two years old. We need to accept, explore and assess how best to support them towards a healthier childhood.
Imagine you’re very young and your world is full of unpredictability. Loud arguments, violent rages, strange behaviour from the adults taking care of you and there’s no way yet that you’ve got the ability or the sophistication to understand the emotions that you feel.
‘This is my childhood’ 4th April
‘This is my childhood’ on April the 4th in Bristol will look at this from several different angles. A starting point will be the UNICEF initiative which was recently launched in Parliament by an All Party Parliamentary Group on surviving the first 1,001 days. A prominent member of that group and dedicated children’s advocate for several decades is Dame Tessa Jowell who will give the key note address at the conference. In addition, Jane Evans a parenting specialist will not only speak at the conference but discuss her book (publication February) on how to work with very young children who have experienced domestic violence in the household and other significant trauma. Diluki Kevitiyagala a consultant paediatrician at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, who specialises in early childhood development, will join a panel of experts creating an interactive session with the audience. More names will be released soon.
We all know that children need support and understanding, but at 2 years old have little or no concept of anger or how to express their emotions and their sense of safety may be shattered by various external stimuli – visual, auditory, violent movement and random unpredictable actions by adults. A 2 year old witnessing traumatic events interpret them quite differently from 5 or 11 year olds and may even blame themselves for being unable to prevent a frightening event. Physiologically developing brains are very vulnerable to stress and trauma and the whole ability to regulate emotion can be critically damaged.
For social workers and for anyone working with children ‘This is my childhood’ is a great opportunity to add to your skill base in assessment and analysis of risk as well as family behaviour. It should provide a terrific bank of knowledge for you to draw from and network with as we all know that social workers on the front line have such difficult jobs.
For those of you wanting to share information, or get a better understanding in order to improve your work, the 4th of April could be a vital day. As I am committed to anything that will improve the lives of children I’m going to tell you more about this conference as time goes by. I strongly urge you to consider it. You may also hear more about the subject on my ‘Thoughts on the Social World’ podcast released every Thursday.