Read the full article here: Community Care Practice Panel

Read Will’s full response below:

Will McMahon, chair, Care Leavers’ Association

It appears that John is in an almost permanent stage of rage and his violent behaviour is probably only the tip of the iceberg of his personal distress. Research shows that witnessing persistent domestic violence towards a main carer when a child can carry devastating consequences.

Precisely the wrong thing to do is to press charges – another key finding from research is that the younger the first contact with the police the longer the stay is in the criminal justice system. However, this does not mean that a secure and safe place for John is not needed.

One of the consequences of effective therapy can be an ignition of further rage as John recognises how harmed he and his mother were by domestic violence.

What John is clearly in need of is a place in a therapeutic community, yet there are too few such places for young people and too few councils who are prepared to pay for them. Nevertheless, his social worker should try to access such a resource.

Important steps are to always involve John in decision-making processes and fully explain the options available to him and the reasons behind particular decisions. He should be offered ways forward and be asked to give reasons for why he is taking drugs and behaving violently. It is also crucial to go back over John’s records to get a better understanding of the time when he was “stable” for a while. Vital clues lie therein.