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Distressed children are lashing out

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Distressed children are lashing out

THE growing problem of violence in primary schools is mainly down to distressed younger children lashing out at school staff and fellow pupils, according to one of the region’s education chiefs.
Jim Brown, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s head of education, told councillors this week that many of the cases involve vulnerable kids who are behaving this way due to adverse childhood experiences or trauma.
Providing extra support to these kids is “how we will solve this problem”, Mr Brown told councillors at Tuesday’s full council meeting.
Problems at home, in family relationships, and the mental health impact of covid and lockdown restrictions are all believed to be factors in a worsening of behaviour in the classroom.
Mr Brown explained: “This is a national issue and, as reported in the national parliament, it’s not an overnight thing that’s happened here.
“It’s not just teachers, it’s all of our education staff – and we are currently speaking with unions in Dumfries and Galloway to look at this matter.
“I think what’s interesting is if we look at the breakdown as reported, it is primarily in primary schools within Dumfries and Galloway.”
He added: “I think what we’re looking at here is distressed behaviours of younger children on the whole. So we’re talking about adverse childhood experiences and trauma-related behaviours.
“What we need to do is understand the granular detail here so we can really understand what’s happening, where it’s happening, and when we do have incidents reported that will lead to a risk assessment describing what actions we have to take when certain incidents happen.”
Mid and Upper Nithsdale Councillor Jim Dempster said: “We should be encouraging every member of staff, every teacher, every head teacher to report these incidents so we have a true picture of what the issue is, why it’s happening, and how we can address it.”
Provost Maureen Johnstone said: “I don’t think any child, teacher, or learning assistant should attend their place of education and be challenged with violent and abusive behaviour.”
Councillor Johnstone also added that a lot of work is being done in the region’s schools to combat this problem, including introducing mentors in violence protection, as well as the ‘Respect Me’ programme.
However, Jim Brown underlined the young age of the kids displaying violent behaviour – and the reasons behind these incidents.
He said: “We do have some very vulnerable young people and there are some situations where some of our young childen who need to be loved as much in our services as any other (child) because of some situations that are not of their making can display behaviours that we describe as disregulated or distressed.
“We need to understand that by supporting those children. That is how we will solve this situation.”


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