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Q&A on teen issues with psychiatrist Dr Sandra Scott and SAFE@LAST's Tracy Haycox (Aviva will donate £2 to Railway Children for every Q you ask) - ANSWERS BACK

(44 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 25-Feb-13 15:52:20

Aviva will donate £2 to charity Railway Children for every question posted.

We're running a series of Q&As with experts with the Charity Railway Children and Aviva as part of our campaign to provide help and support to children who have run away from home, or are at risk of doing so.
This week we're pleased to have the UK's foremost psychiatrist Dr Sandra Scott, and Tracy Haycox, Director of Children and Young People's Services at SAFE@LAST, as our panel experts to answer your questions on teenage psychological issues, as well as how to approach the subject of running away from home with your child. 

For every (proper & genuine) question submitted, Aviva will donate £2 to Railway Children. You can post a maximum of three questions per post on the thread. 

£2 will also be donated for everyone who 'likes' and recommends this thread on Facebook (by clicking 'Recommend' at the top) and if you 'like' any of the articles here.

Do please join in, have your questions answered and help that money stack up!

Send your questions for the experts before Wednesday 6 March and we'll link to their answers to a selection of questions from this page on Monday 25 March.

Dr Sandra Scott's previous experience has included family therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and parent/child work. SAFE@LAST is a Railway Children partner which offers a range of services to children, young people and their families including preventative education, a helpline, one-to-one support, family work, street based youth work, a refuge and return home interviews.

Having a child run away from home is pretty much every parent's nightmare - and sadly, it's much more common that you think. Figures show that a child runs away from home or care in the UK every five minutes - that amounts to 100,000 each year. Railway Children exists to not only help provide safety and support for these children but also to help educate young people on the risks and alternatives to running away from home, to prevent more from doing so.

Holly129 Mon 25-Feb-13 20:29:45

I work in the care industry where we run several care homes for children (age 8-19) The law seems to be working against the best interests of the children. The staff are not allowed to stop the children from leaving the home, and we find many children do run away and put themselves at risk, either by prostituting themselves, meeting up with criminal friends or going back to abusive relationships. How is it that once they're "safe" they don't stay safe?

IlianaDupree Mon 25-Feb-13 20:51:20

Having been a runaway due to rape and violence at home I can often see glaring issues in how professionals approach these issues.

May questions are:-

1. What do you as professionals do to learn from those with first hand experience?

2. In cases involving sexual abuse how do you ensure the children are able to discuss this with you and remain safe from perpertrators?

3. How do you ensure runaways effectively communicate their issues so that you can help them to find safety in abuse cases?

LineRunner Mon 25-Feb-13 21:47:24

I think I am startled by how quickly children are labelled with all the negative stuff of the world if they are 'Runaways' - how do we change this?

EduCated Mon 25-Feb-13 23:43:32

I volunteer with a youth group once a week. I've got to know some of the members reasonably well, but only see them for a couple of hours a week. Are there any particular things to watch out for in this short space of time which might suggest a young person is struggling?

SirBoobAlot Tue 26-Feb-13 00:39:16

Dr Scott, the brief at the top of the thread says you have worked with CBT and family therapy. But what about the options when these aren't suitable? I have seen both handed out when further down the line it has then been addressed that these are not appropriate for situations. What do you feel needs to change to make sure that young people - and their families - get sufficient support, rather than the one-size-fits-all that CBT has become?

Isitme1 Tue 26-Feb-13 09:01:16

How can you know that a teen is having issues?
What do you recommend parents do to help?
How can this be prevented?
What work could schools do to help teens?

On average is it just low income families that are effected?

I believe thats £10.
Thank you smile

pepperrabbit Tue 26-Feb-13 09:48:23

Mine are still quite young, but I do wonder firstly, at what point the idle threat in the heat of the moment to leave home, becomes a reality that the child considers a real (or only) option?
Secondly, As a parent how can you tell when this line has been crossed?

WowOoo Tue 26-Feb-13 11:04:59

My question is about getting them to talk about anything that is on their mind.

If they don't want to talk to parents because something is too private/embarrassing or they are afraid they'll get into trouble, who do I tell them they can talk to?
How can I get them to feel that there is always someone wise and sensible who can advise (especially in a small family)?

CheeseStrawWars Tue 26-Feb-13 12:58:20

1) Is there a 'typical' background of a child who is likely to run away, in terms of the family dynamic?

2) In your experience, have children tried and failed to talk to their parents about the problem before they run away, or do they tend to just not talk to their parents at all? (Is that because they see their parents as part of the problem?)

3) Is self-esteem a 'protecting' factor in avoiding situations in which children run away from home - or are there any protecting factors that can be nurtured?

jennybeadle Tue 26-Feb-13 13:35:30

Do children who run away usually give warnings, or are quiet, thoughtful children as likely to do it?

jennybeadle Tue 26-Feb-13 13:37:36

How often is running away "just" a need for a bit of space for a while, or is it always about a complete break?

How much support is available for runaways long term, who return to their family home?

LittleTyga Tue 26-Feb-13 14:05:38

I think it's important to know who my teen's friends are. When she wants to hang out I need to know who with! However she feels I'm being nosy and overbearing and often tells me what I want to hear!

We have talked about the grooming of young girls and I have told her that I want her to have fun and experience life to the full - but always be aware of safety. Although as a teen, she feels nothing like this will happen to her.

How do I protect her without being overprotective? If she does run away I need to know where to start looking.

girlzbubblegum Tue 26-Feb-13 17:39:11

I wouldn't invade my 14 year olds privacy by reading her diary, so how do I monitor her online activity without being overly prying??? Currently we discuss all the dangers and she is aware but that does not assure me muck.

Writehand Tue 26-Feb-13 18:46:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Writehand Tue 26-Feb-13 18:50:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scottishmummy Tue 26-Feb-13 20:35:38

good evening Dr Scott how would you increase professionals knowledge/skills working with runaways
Can you recommend any online training or journals for cpd

skratta Tue 26-Feb-13 21:06:51

I remember as a teen myself wanting to run away, and seriously thinking about it, as I was depressed and felt my problems were being trivialised. In school there was a peer support group, but I was too embarrassed, and I was too embarrassed to talk to a teacher. Schools are great for support, but the knowledge that they will see you everyday etc; and KNOW meant it felt impossible, and therefore I was left feeling depressed, stressed, lonely and considering running away. I know from talking to my children that great services such as ChildLine and others would be useful, but it not being a 1:1 real life thing, only being virtual, means it might be hard. Apart from in school support, it's quite hard to get 1:1 support without telling family, so is there a way to publicise the ways there are. I know none available, but I almost certain there are, but I and indeed my DC know nothing about them.

Also, especially with teenagers, when they are early teens so hormones are just starting to make effects, I found with myself that serious feelings can be looked at as emotions. If more publicity through schools (assemblies for children or workshops in schools, or leaflets given out to be given to parents, or other things to make both parents and children more aware or more listened too) and to pressure people, so that in the curriculum, mental health issues (possibly covering children/teen, adult, feelings, running away, help, etc;) is more frequent and there is regular awareness talks in school. If you only learn about that once or twice in lessons, instead of as a yearly thing, then it might be harder to explain your feelings?

Is their a Teen or Children Mental Health Day? Or Week or whatever? If there is, I and my children have no knowledge of this whatsoever, and if it exists, there needs to be more awareness, is that possible? If not, I think it is important. Abuse, bullying and mental health feature in running away, and other things of course, and although there is awareness with Anti Bullying Week, regular things about that (which is of course extremely important!) etc; mental health problems and emotions are also very serious.

Sorry, all my qs were about mental health reasons, as those were my experiences as a teen, so...

What is available for teachers, youth club workers, club leaders etc; to help them spot signs? And what ways can they act upon it? Speaking to the teachers, parents etc; and how?

skratta Tue 26-Feb-13 21:08:28

Sorry, 4 questions! Can you just not take into account the last one? Or will the entire post not count? Sorry!

Eastpoint Tue 26-Feb-13 21:56:51

How long does a typical runaway stay away from home?
Do families recover from a child running away?
What support measures are available after a child has returned home?

Thank you.

Writehand Wed 27-Feb-13 13:04:16

I'm hopeful for answers to my questions, though I apologize for my long posts. I felt I had to provide a lot of background so my dilemma made sense.

It seems my house is becoming the "escape route" for this poor girl, and I'd value some advice on how to protect her and the other people involved. She is running away, but she's running to me, if you see what I mean. Given any opportunity she turns up and latches on like a limpet. In the weeks before the self-harm incident she turned up at my house every single day. The other two are torn between feeling unable to cope with her and being too soft-hearted to tell her to go home. I am torn between taking responsibility as her hostess and not wanting to remove what seems to be a vital source of security to her at the moment. Suicidal people are extremely worrying. sad

choccyp1g Wed 27-Feb-13 13:11:04

My DS secondary school has a text system where you are alerted if the child is not in school by 10 am. My DS is only Y7, so if I received one of these when I thought he was in school, I'd check with school then be straight on to police.

But at what age and what time of day, do the police stop taking it seriously?

For an older child would they just expect you to wait till normal home time before raising the alarm ?

My DS is approaching final exams in year 13. He has got to the point of being unable to sleep, unable to concentrate and unable to socialise. He is given deadlines by school to hand in work but he always misses them. He says he just can't function. Yesterday we went to the GP as an emergency as he had a bit of a 'meltdown'. She did not give any treatment at all except things like exercise, go outside, socialise none of which helps in any way. She did not want to give anti depressants due to the increased suicide risk in teen boys but when I suggested St John's Wort she said they have been told not to recommend it any more. Is there anything natural that you can recommend? We are already going down the CBT route.

IlianaDupree Wed 27-Feb-13 19:55:05

WriteHand sorry, I'm going to butt in if ok and suggest contacting MIND and any other child/teen/mental health charity in your area asap as your posts seem quite serious and in need of more rl input. Don't give up until someone helps.

Writehand Thu 28-Feb-13 11:21:57

IlianaDupree: Thanks for the advice. I'm taking it. I shall get onto our CAMHS -- OK, my DS is no longer their patient but I know the staff there rate me as a parent, and they're the ones currently involved with Rose. The CAMHS people won't be able to tell me anything about Rose because of confidentiality, but I can tell them stuff which means they're getting more input, and they may be able to offer advice on what I should do.

I'll try CAMHS, and MIND.

Monadnock Fri 01-Mar-13 10:28:16

My teenager is quite withdrawn and has been diagnosed with depression and low self concept. She sees a psychologist at our local CAMHS. Could you please speak to the best ways for parents to support a teen who feels this way?

thewhistler Fri 01-Mar-13 18:43:32

How can one increase resilience in a teenager?

Parents are often the targets of hostility, especially son father , in the teenage years. Any tips?

Any tips when one of the parents or one of the dcs is on the artistic spectrum, aspergers? Any ways to defuse and calm the teenage angst?

thewhistler Fri 01-Mar-13 18:44:28

Autistic, not artistic!

thewhistler Fri 01-Mar-13 18:44:29

Autistic, not artistic!

gazzalw Sat 02-Mar-13 07:30:06

How do you strike a good balance twice allowing your teen to have personal space and finding that they have retreated to their bedroom never to voluntarily come out?

Our DS is 12 and is becoming a bit of a hermit although he is quite sociable with his friends when he does emerge! It is quite difficult to enthuse him to anything except Minecraft ;-(. Do we act now to prevent him becoming more withdrawn or let him be,expecting that he will emerge from his cocoon when he is good and ready?


holstenlips Sat 02-Mar-13 08:15:49

How is best to encourage a young teen to take more care of their hygiene and a healthier diet, without creating self esteem issues?? Thanks

What is the best way to 'engage' with a teen who has withdrawn from family life? It seems fairly normal for teens to disappear into their bedroom and only emerge for meals, but it makes it difficult to really talk about any issues they may have.

gazzalw Sat 02-Mar-13 11:17:40

twice should read 'twixt' - GRRRR!

i'm currently supporting a girl who is 17 and looking likely to be made homeless by her mother, and would be better off for being out of the household imo as there are big issues there if there was actually anywhere for her to go.

she has had suicide attempts and is clearly very distressed and has spent time in a unit but camhs keep closing her case and her social worker is playing disappearing act games with her and giving anyone trying to get in touch with them in an offical capacity (i work in an FE college) the runaround.

it seems flagrant that what is happening is that they are stalling and hiding knowing she will be 18 soon and not their problem - it is quite sickening how obviously they are avoiding dealing with her and trying to close cases etc so they can avoid responsibility.

i am told by our onsite mental health team and safeguarding officer that this is very, very common and they see it time and time again.

what mental health services should be available for 17 year olds and what safeguards them from this kind of playing time by services? what happens when she turns 18? is it just go to GP and be referred to the community mental health team and see a psychiatrist every 6 months if she's lucky? what kind of housing options are there for vulnerable teenagers with mental health problems and unsuitable/unsafe homes?

there is no way she can cope going into independent living in a few months time but there seems to be no way to help her.

borninastorm Sat 02-Mar-13 16:12:34

What is the best way to support a 13/14 year old teenager who has been bereaved by the suicide of a friend of the same age?

What is the best kind of outside help I can get for her: specialist bereavement by suicide counselling or CBT? Or could CRUSE be a good place to start and then move onto CBT?

Can you recommend any really good (non patronising, her words not mine) books to help a teenager bereaved by the suicide of a friend?

Having never faced anything like this before I'm struggling to know what is the best way forward to help my teenager who has accepted that she will benefit from some outside help and advice.

NotMostPeople Sat 02-Mar-13 21:08:28

Do you think Tool Academy is a suitable programme for teens?

DizzyHoneyBee Sat 02-Mar-13 21:12:44

What should you do when teens are using inappropriate bad language in the presence of impressionable younger siblings?

slambang Sat 02-Mar-13 22:15:54

How do we strike a balance between openly and honestly talking about the risks and excitements in the world (sex, drugs, motorbikes,,travel, adventure) without sounding either too naggy and boring (No, don't. Drugs are bad. Be careful. Always use a condom. etc etc) or slack and boundary-less (You can tell me all about it. I wont be shocked etc)?

thewhistler Sat 02-Mar-13 22:45:19

How do you combat obsession with technology?

How do you get a teen to read?

How do you get a teen to work?

How would you deal with a teenager stealing money from you, their father and/or their siblings? Ds3 does this, despite getting an allowance from us and earning £25 a week from his paper round.

cats22 Sun 03-Mar-13 15:56:14

How can you rebuild a relationship with a teen who is uncommunicative?
Who can a child/teen turn to if they feel the need to run away?
Is there any help available for families who are struggling to communicate/function well?

flow4 Mon 04-Mar-13 09:37:07

When my son was little, I spent a lot of energy on 'positive parenting': giving him loads of positive and affirming feedback, helping him succeed and enjoy what he did, protecting him from horrible experiences, and generally making life good for him.

As he got older, and naturally spent more time in new environments, of course I couldn't make 'everything OK' for him any more. But I still tried to support him and 'kiss it all better' at home.

In his teenage years, he has had a lot of trouble, particularly coping with disappointment, rejection, failure and fear of failure. In his early teens, he swung straight into 'fight or flight', and had no other tactics - no 'middle way' of dealing with things. He seems to have little resilience, and little idea of how to cope when things are going less-than-well. I started to wonder whether I had made things too good for him as a child - perhaps he needed more 'practice' at dealing with difficult situations?

Would you advocate deliberately making sure that children always have experiences of dealing with difficulties, even from a young age, to help develop their resilience and long-term mental well-being?

ripsishere Wed 06-Mar-13 03:31:49

My problem with my daughter is lack of opportunity to go wild! it sounds a strange thing to say but she spends virtually 100% of her spare time with me and my husband.
We live out of the UK and her school friends just aren't that interested in socializing. School work is the way to go at her school.
I am concerned that if and when we do return to the UK she'll go a bit barmy. I suppose we are fortunate that there is not a drug culture here (death penalty) nor do people seem to drink much alcohol.
Although she isn't yet 12, it does occupy a lot of my thoughts.

NancyMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-Mar-13 15:40:39

Hello everyone, thanks for your questions. We've got the answers back now and you can see them here.

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