Topic F: Protecting children and young people who have been abused or suffer from severe attachment problems due to early neglect

Some children have been neglected or abused (or both). This is also reflected in their problems with lack of sensitivity and empathy in all relations, including intimate and sexual relations.

The classic symptoms are:

  1. Indiscriminate attachment behaviour (presenting a risk of falling into the hands of abusers)
  2. Indiscriminate sexual behaviour (acting in a very offensive way with no inhibitions or
  3. Violent, dominating or other intrusive behaviours towards others.
  4. A lack of sensitivity towards the social signals sent by the other part in a relation.
  5. A lack in the sense of proportions (unable to discern whether they have committed a serious offence, or a minor one).
  6. A lack of ability to separate fantasy from reality (this creates a risk of groundless accusations towards staffs or others, including sexual offenses).

These children and young people cannot be expected to have an emotional or social understanding of behavioural limits or to remember your instructions in situations where they need to do so.

You should therefore practice external behavioural regulation, and have a simple set of behavioural rules, which you demonstrate many times and often repeat to the children (such as “if someone says “no” when you want to embrace them, you must let them go immediately. Let me show you this with Ann. You see, she just whispered “no” and I let go of her immediately”).

When protecting very disturbed teenagers, passive contraception (where the young person is protected by you from risk situations and pregnancy) is necessary. You can ask the local doctor to give girls a long term hormone contraceptive to protect them at all times, or other means that do not require self-protective actions on behalf of the teenager.