Learning is almost impossible for victims of abuse who have no support, a top children’s campaigner has warned teachers.
Calling for a better understanding of the impact trauma has on the brains of youngsters, Camila Batmanghelidjh, pictured, said too often the time was not taken to discover the real cause of disruptive behaviour.
Delivering the annual Wales Education Lecture, organised by the General Teaching Council for Wales, Ms Batmanghelidjh, an experienced psychotherapist, said there is now greater knowledge available about the impact of abuse on the development of children’s brains and this, in turn, should lead to better handling of extreme behaviour.
“Too often they are presented in the media as vermin and we dismiss their behaviour as a manifestation of flawed morality. By doing that, we are losing the opportunity to find out what is really happening,” said the charity chief whose support organisations Kids Company and The Place 2 Be have helped more than 70,000 disturbed children across the UK.
She explained how the “banking of multiple traumatic episodes” in an abused child’s brain creates a loop between the brain and the adrenal gland that leads to constant restlessness and shuts down the ability to learn.
“Their biology is so adapted to an extreme way of life that they struggle to calm down, they find it so difficult to sit still in our classrooms, their capacity for memory is altered and they develop learning difficulties.
“We need to help children get out of this fright loop. The biology of terror has to be addressed before any learning or aspirations for the future are addressed.”
She argued that teachers need to work more closely with other children’s support professionals in a holistic package of care to reverse the damage done by the traumatic lives experienced by these children.
“If you put a holistic package of care together you can achieve success. These young people are not hard to reach. It is the services that are hard to reach. We need a new type of key worker who understands these neurological issues.”
Her lecture, at the National Museum of Wales, was entitled Neurosis, Numeracy and Neurons: The challenges of delivering education to vulnerable children and young people.
It was the ninth in the series of annual lectures organised by the General Teaching Council for Wales.