ERG SES H 08, Studies on Education
The research concerns the effects of domestic violence on young peoples’ social-emotional learning (SEL). The active intervention was a specially designed SEL programme, “up2talk” that explored how such a programme might improve SEL skills in adolescents affected. It ran over ten weeks; sessions lasted 2.5 hours and had five members, boys and girls aged 12-13, who had suffered domestic violence.
The negative effects suffered by young people who experience domestic violence are established in international research. Quantitative research has measured these effects on emotional, social and literacy development for children and qualitative research has given a voice to victims (Holt, Buckley, & Whelan, 2008; Stanley, 2011).
International research finds similar themes of shame and isolation experienced by families affected by domestic violence (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014). This shame is frequently expressed by young people from a wide range of cultures (Collis, 2013).
A key developmental need of adolescence is building relationships, according to Erikson (1971), so limits placed on school attendance, leisure pursuits, and opportunities to make friends due to domestic violence can negatively affect young people (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, 2006). These teenage years are vital for personal development, for completion of education and finding pathways to future employment. SEL skills have been identified as essential for all types of learning and relationship building activities (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). These skills are needed for successful engagement with school, college, social groups and employment opportunities. They enable the individual to overcome difficulties and maintain self-belief in adversity.
The experience of prolonged stress and trauma may also have physiological effects on the brain functions and the stress hormone systems, according to emerging neurobiological research (Roth, 2014). A young person may have an overactive stress response or their cognitive ability may be affected, causing them to display attention deficits or aggressive behaviour resulting in school and social exclusion (Ardino, 2011).
The "up2talk" programme uses a group format for peer support and effective skills learning. The peer group who have suffered a similar trauma offers the young person a safe place to process emotions, gain information and share experience. Skilled adults who maintain this emotional safety, and deliver effective SEL skills provide a positive learning experience for the participants (Howarth et al., 2015). This experience in itself provides the participants with an alternative set of understanding and behaviours to use in real life. The design of the programme “up2talk” was founded on thirty years experience working with at risk children and adolescents. This field experience was grounded in the knowledge gained from research and modified by best practice of the professionals in the field.
References Ardino, V. (2011). Post-traumatic stress in antisocial youth: a multi faceted reality. In V. Ardino (Ed.), Post-traumatic Syndromes in Childhood and Adolescence: A Handbook of Research and Practice (pp. 211). UK: Wiley-Blackwell. Collis, S. (2013). Hearing young people talk about witnessing domestic violence: Exploring feelings, coping strategies and pathways to recovery. London: Jessica Kingsley. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432. Erikson, E., H. (1971). Identity : youth and crisis. London: Faber and Faber. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. (2014). Violence against women: an EU-wide survey. Retrieved from Luxembourg: Health Service Executive. (2010). Practice document on domestic violence: A guide to working with children and families. Dublin: Health Service Executive. Holt, S., Buckley, H., & Whelan, S. (2008). The impact of exposure to domestic violence on children and young people: A review of the literature. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32(8), 797-810. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213408001348 Howarth, E., Moore, T. H. M., Shaw, A. R. G., Welton, N. J., Feder, G. S., Hester, M., . . . Stanley, N. (2015). The effectiveness of targeted interventions for children exposed to domestic violence: Measuring success in ways that matter to children, parents and professionals. Child Abuse Review, 24(4), 297-310. Lawlor, R. (2014). Conspicuous invisibility: A grounded theory approach to exploring the discovery and disclosure of violence against women attending general practice. ( PhD), Dublin City University, Dublin. National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. (2011). Senior Cycle: Social Personal and Health Education: Curriculum Framework. Dublin: NCCA. Roth, T. L. (2014). How traumatic experiences leave their signature on the genome: an overview of epigenetic pathways in PTSD. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 5. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00093 Stake, R. (2010). Qualitative Research: studying how things work. New York Guildford Press. Stanley, N. (2011). Children experiencing domestic violence: A research review. Retrieved from Dartington., UK: United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. (2006). Behind closed doors. Retrieved from New York:
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