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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 ?

SecondhandRose Wed 27-Feb-13 13:47:15

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.

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