“Reactive Attachment Disorder and the Care System
I am currently highlighting the question as to whether the psychological damage caused to children who have been taken into care at a young age is caused by the care system or by their treatment prior to entering care.
The research that is relevant to this is summarised here and basically says that reactive attachment disorder can be avoided if a stable attachment is achieved from between 4 and 6 months. Previously I have seen an argument that the key period is 6-18 months and that not having a stable attachment established in that period causes lifelong problems.
Some information is difficult to find, but some information is not so difficult to find. It is possible to find out the ages of children taken into compulsory care. In the year 1st April 2014-31st March 2015 (the last period for which the detailed information is available).
1,190 children were taken into care in the first week of their lives
1,576 children were taken into care in the first month of their lives
2,000 were taken into care in the first 4 months.
270 were taken into care in months 4-7
and 2,740 babies of 1 or under were taken into care.
2,800 children aged 1-4 were taken into care
2,680 children aged 5-9 were taken into care
2,360 children aged 10-15 were taken into care.
220 children aged 16 and over were taken into care.
It is not unreasonable to say that 2,180 children were taken into care by the age of 6 months. Hence any RAD suffered by those children occurs as a result of their treatment after being taken into care. It is not a difficult logical concept.
It is, however, a simple conclusion that many children are damaged by being taken into care. Exactly how the damage occurs is a separate question, but the logic is unavoidable.”
Child development and any subsequent events in a child’s life which may cause disruption to that development, are hugely complex areas in which even cutting edge knowledge today is still not sophisticated enough to offer a clear pathway in these fields.
It is no surprise then, that in a system which is understaffed, under resourced and unable to offer its professionals the latest research in a fast and efficient way, mistakes about the cause of a child’s deteriorating mental health are made.
And whilst it can be the case that a child entering the care system has suffered terrible psychological damage as a result of their home environment, the care system itself can and does makes children’s mental health worse.
Former Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming has recently highlighted this issue in a blog post, and offers research and data on the topic. What he effectively says, is that if…
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