‘Handle traumatised children with care’

BY: Beatrice Laryea
Mia Henson (eighth from left) in a photograph with the participants after the event
Mia Henson (eighth from left) in a photograph with the participants after the event

Social workers and caregivers drawn from some orphanages in the Greater Accra Region have been advised to step up their ways of handling children with traumatic conditions in order to prevent the situation from escalating.

At a three-day training organised by the Charlene’s Angels Foundation, a US-based NGO, which ended at the Osu Children’s Home last Wednesday, the participants were equipped with the trauma-informed care supplemental resources to aid them in dealing with juveniles who have been traumatised.

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The participants were drawn from Osu Children’s Home, Madina Day Crae Centre, Echoing Hills Village, Juvenile Girls Correction Centre, La Neighbourhood Early Childhood Development Centre, La General Hospital and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

The three-day training, which attracted about 40 participants opened with the treatment of topics such as definition of traumatic stress, types of traumatic stress, how children respond to trauma, managing emotional hot spots, effects of trauma reminders, how to help children identify and cope with trauma reminders, transcending trauma and role of caregivers.

Other topics treated were therapeutic crisis intervention, goals of crisis intervention, encouraging positive relationships, skills building, behaviour support techniques, goals of emotional first aid, strategies for emotional first aid, understanding aggressive behaviours, immediate response priorities, verbal strategies and life span interventions.


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Effects of trauma

Speaking at the event, founder of the Charlene’s Angels Foundation, Mia Henson noted that children with trauma are very unique people adding one thing that social workers needed to understand with children with trauma was that it can stagnate their mental development preventing them from developing into full potential adults.

Mrs Henson, a social worker and a graduate of the Morgan State University in the United States, added that the training was a community-based programme meant to help care givers to enable them arrest the situation

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“The whole project was about giving information to caregivers and social workers to enable them feel comfortable in stepping up what they will normally do in engaging traumatised children because there are so many forms of trauma such as acute trauma or chronic trauma which cause problems psychologically,” she said.

I spoke a lot about stigmas in the community so you see this behaviors that these youth are portraying and you don’t understand why so as professionals we need to dig down to the root of the problem and I believe there is the need an open dialogue in the communities with the people who handle such children and that is the focus of this programme she added.

Experiences

Manageress of the Osu Children’s Home, Christiana Addo, who shared her experience after the training noted the programme had enlightened them thanking the organisers for the support.

“We had a three-day training programme about handling trauma issues with children and as workers of this facility we have realised that it was so helpful in the sense that we have been equipped with the necessary information on how to handle a child who enters this facility with trauma,” she said.

She added: “I also learnt that it is not good to impose your ideas on the child but solve the issue from the child’s perspective and make available everything that can help the child cope better with the new environment to help them come out healthy mentally, emotionally and physically.”

For her part, Manageress of the La Neighbourhood Early Childhood Development Centre, Mrs Lisa Okyere said: “In fact this programme has really been beneficial because I deal with issues of juveniles and children who are in trauma or stressful situations so the programme has enlightened me and I have gain a lot of experience listening to other perspectives of handling such issues.