You are a CYC working in an elementary school. One of the students arrived with suspicious bruises. With someone you know assume the role of counsellor and have someone assume the role of the child who is disclosing or in the process of healing. Use the counselling skills you have learned in Intro to Counselling. Reference the “Handling Disclosures” article list of dos and don’ts to guide and assess how the counselling session went. Remember that, even though this is just practice, you will face this in real life often as a CYC so please focus on this.
Once you have completed completed the counselling session answer the following questions in paragraph format and submit.
Handling and Reporting disclosures
We will focus, at an introductory level, on the most effective ways for CYC’s to handle disclosures of abuse and explore this role in relation to the prevention of abuse and ongoing treatment issues.
Often children and youth have made previous attempts to disclose an abusive situation and have stopped because the adult they told either did not believe them or they became fearful of the consequences and quickly retracted their story. As CYC’s we must be prepared for disclosures and be able to encourage and support the child or youth through the telling of their abuse stories.
Responding to a Child’s Disclosure of Abuse
When a child who has been a victim of abuse discloses to you, it is important to understand that the “child considers you to be a trustworthy person with whom he/she wishes to share a personal burden (Community Child Abuse Council of Hamilton-Wentworth). It is up to you to ensure the child’s privacy and confidentiality by speaking with him in a place that allows this. The information that the child then shares with you is often emotionally difficult for you as well as for your client. In this process it is important that both we and the youth understand that we don’t keep secrets here and we give the youth permission to tell their story. (Caring for Children & Youth).
As a CYC who continues to be involved with a child or youth after the reporting process is completed, it is important to keep in mind a variety of ongoing treatment issues. Children must have a safe environment where they can talk about the abuse. They need to be able to talk about their feelings about themselves, their parents, the perpetrator, siblings and friends. Children and youth need to learn appropriate ways to express their anger and learn about positive touching and healthy sexual behaviour. Empowerment becomes a focus for your involvement with a child. Learning to say `no’ becomes important to that sense of empowerment as well, depending upon the age, the possibility of taking a self defense course. Misconceptions about their bodies and themselves must be addressed as well as misconceptions about the abuse occurrence and who is to blame for the abuse must be explored. Support and helping a child or youth prepare for court may also become a part of your role as a C.Y.C.
It is obvious that our role varies significantly depending upon the child’s needs and the agency involvement. We must as C.Y.C.’s continue to be aware of and develop our understanding of child abuse and its impact on our children and youth.
For many CYC students, this may be your first real exposure to this issue and your role in working with children and youth. If at any time you experience ongoing issues and feelings related to this topic it is important to talk with someone about your feelings and concerns. We as CYC’s must always be aware of the feelings our work creates in us. It is important to seek support and supervision to deal effectively with those feelings in order that we ensure our ongoing effectiveness in working with children and youth. Below are three videos giving you the basics of what you need to know. The workshops on disclosure and reporting go more into detail to help you prepare for the field.
Watch Child Protection Part 3 Speaking with Children on utube .
Merit Career Development. (Nov.7. 2018). Child Protection. Speaking with Children. Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAtt5P12BNI&index=3&list=PLdCh5k6Hqx0PdcUqLm7L8CoTtLVRSTQo_ (Links to an external site.)
Merit Career Development. (Nov. 7. 2018). Child Protection Module 3 Part 5 Document Abuse Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o33qmo-iKCM&list=PLdCh5k6Hqx0PdcUqLm7L8CoTtLVRSTQo_&index=5 (Links to an external site.)
A CYC’s DO’s and DON’Ts List
In summary, there are a variety of techniques available to C.Y.C’s in handing initial disclosures of abuse.
– give the child your total attention
– allow the child to use their own words to tell what has happened
– respect silence
– tell the child that you are sorry that the abuse happened to them
– obtain clarification that abuse occurred so that you are comfortable in reporting your suspicion of abuse
– provide ongoing support to the child after the report has been made
– obtain only the information necessary to make the report
– reassure the child you will do everything to help them and their family
– clearly explain to the child the steps that must be taken in order to ensure their safety
– know your agencies reporting procedures
– allow the child to express a wide range of feelings
– reaffirm the child’s sense of self
– believe what the child tells you
– use clear language appropriate to the child’s developmental level
– be aware and accepting of your own feelings
– talk to someone afterwards
Add your own list of things you should do in working with a child abuse survivor.
– ask leading questions or insist on details
– make any promises you can’t keep
– promise to keep `the secret’
– correct the child’s words
– display strong emotional reactions to what the child tells you
– criticize the child or any member of the family
– during an initial disclosure do not rush the child but do not delve too deeply into the situation.
– leave the child alone or unsupported
– wash or bathe the child, remove clothing to examine injuries, or alter the child’s appearance in any way
– display the child’s injuries indiscriminately
– ignore the feelings the child is describing
– delay in reporting the incident to police or to the child protection agency
– ignore your feelings
Add your own list of things you should not do in working with a child abuse survivor.
Remember as CYC’s it is our role to give youth permission to tell, respect the burden of the secret, allow youth their feelings about the abuse, expect retractations, give gift of time, tell the youth what you as a CYC need to do and remember not to panic, over react and stay calm. (Caring for Children & Youth)
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