What Are the Reasons Behind Challenging Behaviour in Residential Care Situations?: a Study of the Opinions of Young People and Staff.

Topics: Children Act 1989, Social work, Sociology Pages: 25 (8015 words) Published: June 11, 2013
What are the Reasons Behind Challenging Behaviour in residential care situations?: a study of the opinions of young people and staff.

Residential Care is local authority and privately owned residences within which Looked After Children (LACs) aged thirteen to eighteen reside. Challenging behaviour is a term defined as two main types: disruptive or externalised behaviours which may include some of the following: aggressive behaviour such as fighting, disobedience, tantrums, destruction of property, bullying and attention-seeking; non-disrupting or internalised behaviours including depression and anxiety. Symptoms of the latter include tension, inferiority complexes, unhappiness, feelings of worthlessness, timidity, social isolation and hypersensitivity (Hayden et al. 1999). Within my research I will be focusing upon externalised behaviours, specifically tantrums which are defined as episodes of extreme anger and frustration characterised by crying, screaming, shouting and violent body motions, including throwing things (Encyclopaedia of Children’s Health [online] 2011).

My interest in this area stems from placement experience when two young men I worked with were reading an article 'Breaking the law - in and inside' in Who Cares Magazine (2010), a publication they receive every month. Within the publication was a letter from a young man of a similar age to them (15-16) and he said he behaved badly because people expected him to and he felt that if people expected him to he might as well live up to this reputation. The young men I worked with agreed with this, which made me think about the reasons behind some of the behaviour they exhibit on a regular basis.

Within my placement in residential care the most common form of challenging behaviour I witnessed was tantrums. I feel it is important both for the young person and staff to understand the reasons behind the behaviour; for the young person they will better understand themselves and for staff they will be able to help the child more if they understand the behaviour more and the reasons behind it.

Upon examining this concept closer I looked on the Who Cares website to gain more insight and discovered ‘John’s blog’ and a particular entry from October 2010:

‘...I wasn’t prepared for the Panorama programme ‘Kids in Care’ ... The blur quickly fixed itself in the eyes of ‘Connor’, an angry fourteen year old in care. In the short clip, no doubt shown to jack up audience numbers, Connor is shown attacking his social worker’s car and leaving its window smeared with blood (at least I think it was blood). His rage caught me off guard, not out of shock, but more from a forgotten familiarity. I remember that rage and then I remember the vacuum. The hole in my childhood that screamed out to be filled. I often reached for rage. ..’ (John’s Blog, 2010).

This research proposal begins with a review of literature around LACs and behaviour and identifies findings and any gaps in the current research. Examining other literature helps to identify any ethical issues or areas of difficulty others have found and able to overcome or avoid these in this proposal.

Literature review

The research uncovered in order to shape the proposal is dated from 1998 which is thirteen years old - the most up to date research I found was from 2010. I will examine this literature in a thematic order. These themes will be used to inform the design of the planned interviews and help me to from questions around particular topics.

Life as a looked after child
Many of the research projects consider what it is like for the young people to be a Looked After Child (Baldry and Kemmis, 1998; Minty, 1999; Rutter, 2000; Rutter et al. 2000; Munro et al. 2005; McCarthy et al. 2003; Vinnerljung et al. 2006; Clausen and Kristofersen 2008). This was done by looking at daily life, being looked after, contact with family and friends, social workers, planning and reviews, education, and information and...

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