Therapy is really important for children who have been traumatised. Play and multi sensory experiences are also vital. Children need also need to experience a consistent flow of understanding, care, empathy, attunement, kindness, love, affirmation, listening, time, fun, laughter and most importantly safety.
My understanding of government statements regarding the welfare of children seem to make it clear that there are concerns about children’s recovery from trauma and these need to be remembered amongst other pressures for children’s progress. Article 39 of the UNCRC 1989 says that,
‘Article 39, which obliges states to take all appropriate measures to promote the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of child victims of violence.’
A central piece of legislation relating to child welfare is The Children Act 1989, which states that the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in making decisions about children and what the priorities should be regarding their activities.
Therefore for the children who have experienced trauma, releasing them to attend any available therapeutic programme needs to be seen as a priority even amidst the need to achieve educational outcomes because the children will be at a better place to go on and achieve these educational outcomes than if they were present at school and didn’t have the therapy. It is actually a cost effective and a strategic educational decision. Therapy needs to be seen as a priority for children ‘s educational, emotional, social, and mental health if it is available. Sadly at this moment, most schools fear the consequences of ‘unauthorised absences’ for therapy that they feel they cannot justify. They would often rather avoid having to allow children time ‘out of school’ for such interventions. Yet we know how essential it is to intervene with appropriate therapy at the youngest possible age.
‘Children whose minds are full up with other thoughts and worries about their life outside of school can find it extremely difficult to focus in our classrooms. Their minds might be preoccupied with the struggle of living with abuse… They will have developed learned responses which served them more or less adequately in those situations, but which simply don’t work in schools.’ (Delaney. M. 2009. p24)
As we allow our high tech society to influence our children, so the skills of play that were a normal part of life in the past which are needed to help kids process life, are largely lost. Children need multi sensory experiences to help them work out life. They need to find out about the world and how they fit in it by playing with others.
We need to help schools understand the need for art therapy and play therapy. We also need to help the ‘powers that be’ to understand the mental health benefits of creative arts, playtimes,moral education and spiritual education which are all being pushed out as ‘non essential’….If only they knew the decline in mental health that we will witness soon in our nation unless this academic priority is changed.