Parents' drug addictions, poor mental health sees more children being traumatised at home

Six-year-old James* has had more trauma in his young life than most children and adults. He has experienced family violence first-hand and been subjected to physical and emotional harm by his mother and her partner. Now safe living with another family member, the effects from this ordeal are starting to show.

James has nightmares, soils the bed, threatens to harm himself and others, is violent towards other children at school and is controlling and manipulative in the class room and at home.

Since being in the care of extended family, he has been violent towards them and they are struggling to cope. His behavior impacts on his learning as he finds it hard to settle down once he gets worked up. He is below in his reading, writing and maths.

These are all signs of Attachment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Family Works Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) were contacted by James’ extended family and he has spoken to our counsellors about his extreme worries about his baby brother who continues to live with his mother and her partner. He gets very upset at not being able to see him.

Our Social Workers are doing some one-to-one therapeutic work with James, which includes playing the memory game, using building blocks and Lego. 
The SWiS is part of a multi-disciplinary team supporting James and his family. The stable placement of James with family is critical to achieving his safety and security.

He has been referred to a counsellor at Family Works for some one-to-one work. He is also working with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAFs) with the HBHB. Initial feedback from CAFs is that there may be other issues such as FASD – Foetal Alcohol Disorder. The school have also requested the support of a psychologist to help with his behavior in school.  His extended family have been referred to Family Works HB to complete a special parenting programme for children with attachment disorder called Fostering Security.

This case will be ongoing for several months.

Unfortunately, Family Works Hawke’s Bay (FWHB) is working with an increasing number of children traumatized by their home environments. This trend is likely to continue as we experience families with drug addictions, poor mental health and little hope in their lives.

FWHB staff are all qualified and registered practitioners committed to supporting children like James to reach his potential and live a fulfilling life.
*James’ name has been changed to protect his identify