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Problems with school attendance may be a sign that children don't feel safe at home

12 January 2018

These are the findings from a study carried out by Adele Tobias being presented at the Division of Educational & Child Psychology annual conference in Brighton.

The small scale study found that family coaches perceive persistent school non-attendance (PSNA) as a red flag, occurring when a child or young person (CYP) feels unsafe.  Family coaches work with families where a CYP has persistently poor or no school attendance or if there is unemployment or anti-social behaviour.

In many cases, this feeling of being unsafe is a product of the home environment not providing a secure base, parents having a diminished capacity or if the CYP feels that their situation is invisible to others. 

Ms Tobias said, “In coaching families, there must be a greater emphasis on the CYP’s feelings of safety.  Intervention should be relationship-based, focussing on approaches that improve the visibility of the CYP, and increase parenting capacity; enabling parents to feel safe and secure themselves, so that they are able to think longer term, and to behave as authority-figures.  This research begins to broaden the view of PSNA; not always a psychiatric condition or a criminal activity, but sometimes as a rational response to environmental barriers to feeling safe”.

You can follow the conference on Twitter at #decp2018



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