A weight on young shoulders

Sharon is a student support officer who has been working with young people for the last 13 years.

She has supported young people coping with various situations such as physical and mental abuse, bullying, neglect, and domestic violence, often as a result of parents taking either drugs or alcohol.

A few cases over the years particularly stick in my mind.

A girl in her early teens was sent to me as it was against school policy for a student to have a mobile phone on them. She was caught with her phone after she received a call in her lesson.

She became very anxious and stressed after the call. We spoke, and she told me her teenager brother was at home.

But it was her behaviour that concerned me.

He should’ve been at school – but instead he was there to protect his mum after her new boyfriend had assaulted her.

Looking at the files we had on the children there were attendance concerns and long periods of illness.

Both children were very bright but they were not meeting their academic achievements.

I arranged a meeting with them both to discuss issues at home and how they were coping, if at all.

The boy was very withdrawn and seemed to be experiencing anxiety and low self-esteem. He was nervous and jumpy, which was very out of character.

It was obvious to me that these two were struggling. They were actually being parents to the two younger pre-school children, and carers for their mother.

They needed help. The whole family needed support.

We checked if this family were known to the police and also to social services, which was the case.

Meeting with support services were difficult as the boyfriend arrived heavily under the influence of alcohol and became aggressive.

But support from a local group who specialise in assisting to families affected by domestic violence helped the mum, offering counselling and strategies to help deal with her drinking and support in parenting skills.

The two older children also received counselling at school, and got their lives back on track.

They have both gone on to college and university and are doing very well.

I feel very thankful that they were able to speak to me, to trust me.

It is all about being confident in spotting signs and making sure early interventions are put in place.

Students affected by domestic abuse often come to me suffering panic attacks and have very low self-esteem, poor attendance and are under-achieving.

Without my early interventions, a lot of children I support would go completely off the rails, some I have worked with have possible signs of mental health issues.

Young people are often subjected to a family life that impacts their health, wellbeing, safety and success. They need our support.



One thought on “A weight on young shoulders

  1. Mrs Parkin 29 November, 2015 / 5:52 pm

    Well done you.


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