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ISSN 2410-2954  /  VOLUME 29 NUMBER 4, 2016

Table of Contents and Article Abstracts

3  /  Editorial: Complexities  / Rika Swanzen

Andy Stanley says that “growth creates complexity which requires simplicity”, and Alan Perlis states: “Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.”

While this issue is lighter than the previous special issue on education in terms of its volume, it is not lighter in terms of its content. It holds reflections on serious topics, from matters of child protection to pedophilia, from the need for professionalisation to the impact of immigration. For me the golden thread throughout was the determination of the authors to bring some understanding to some very complex issues.

These discussions occur against the backdrop of other complex world events – on the one end of the world the aftermath of the elections in the United States, and on the other end, the release of the State Capture report in South Africa. Much about people’s true thoughts and actions have been revealed. We live in a world where the pendulum seems to swing to extreme opposites, even while politicians and philosophers had us thinking at times that we are a tolerant society, or at least one that ensured protection for diversity.

The authors in this issue offer some insights on the approach to vulnerable children and youth, as well as posing questions about the responsibility of the practitioner and policy decision-makers.

To further advocacy efforts for a holistic Child and Youth Care (CYC) practice, Paget highlights the need for a broader conceptualization of protection, one that is not merely concerned with guarding the health and safety of youth as physical bodies, but as whole persons. A distinction is made between survival and existence; utmost basic needs versus the quality of one's life – with quality being characterized by the relationships and connections between self, others, and the world. The belief is presented that when CYC practitioners regularly and ethically review their assumptions and beliefs about young people’s needs and how they come to define their prevalence, they can be responsive and meet them where they are at. A deeper look at needs are proposed, with a creative link to CYC theory.

Successful intervention plans in the education and child welfare system are discussed by Holmes, with an emphasis on effective promotive factors for resiliency. The intervention strategies take a microsystem approach, motivating for effective changes through social cues and reactions to behaviours where individuals learn what is acceptable in society. Aspects of belonging, an internal locus of control and self-regulation are considered. Stay further adds to the understanding of approaches by presenting logotherapy as a meaning-therapy. The higher spiritual dimension is linked to an undeniable longing for meaning in life. An interesting link is suggested, with behaviour challenges and the existential vacuum presenting itself mainly in the form of boredom. This arises when too few demands are made upon man, an aspect that may very well become a typical concern for this generation. The basic techniques of logotherapy and their application to CYC practice are offered in this discussion.

A topic that may not receive enough attention receives candid discussion by Nobrega. It is claimed that the most beneficial treatment for individuals with pedophilia and for child sexual exploitation prevention, is through advocacy techniques that create awareness among society and social services researchers. She builds on a view that an accurate definition of pedophilia is lacking when pedophiles are grouped into the same category as child sex offenders. Specifically, because the related stigma may prevent them from receiving the required support that would reduce the probability of child sexual abuse offences. A range of treatment considerations are then suggested as a focus for interventions, thereby ensuring the prevention of harm to vulnerable young people.

Among other findings on a youth profile studied, Brooker found that easy access to the internet provided by mobile phones and other devices has impacted the sexual lives of young people. The drop in the age of exposure to pornography in mainstream culture raises concern as to what this is teaching young people about sexual interactions, women and relationships. On other matters of concern, youth aged 15-19 years are four times more likely to be processed by the police than any other age group, but early implementation of various diversionary tactics does indeed reduce the likelihood of repeat contact with police. Risk factors that have been identified as indicators include peer rejection, academic failure and learning delays combined with teacher intolerance, reduced family connections – due to poor supervision, divorce or family break-up, substance abuse, long-term parental unemployment or low income, neighbourhood violence, lack of support services and child behaviour problems. She believes young people faced with challenges that are both universal and unique to their generation, are dealing with high levels of stress – centred around the economy and financial matters, politics and societal values, and equity and discrimination.

Grosse and Roman expand the focus on the treatment of vulnerable children and youth through the presentation of a best-practice model for parent support in communities. For strong parent-child relationships, parents need support through the introduction of basic skills and knowledge, and the establishment of networks within communities. Parents living in a community struggling with high levels of unemployment, crime and substance abuse experience high levels of stress, but resources such as community counsellors, financial support and informal support, could also address internal challenges that relate to the stressors. Less coercive discipline techniques are some of the positive outcomes of the programme.

Please also take special note of this issue’s book review by Wolfgang Vachon. Rather unique of its kind, it brings you best practices from the non-Western world. The book is truly a must-read.

In bringing our focus to the practitioner, Boyle identifies self-awareness, reflection and praxis as concepts that are valuable to a CYC practitioner's professional and personal identity. These are held against the fight/flight response, where our ability to think clearly and use self-awareness and reflection is compromised. While it is in these moments that the ability to reflect in and on action is the most important, the impact this situation or individual has on our self-awareness must also be uncovered. It is proposed that social construction as an idea that has been created and accepted by the people in a society, does not become the framework for how we determine what is deviant or acceptable. If bias is checked, our intuitive feelings can act as safety mechanisms, while still providing support to people who need us. Practical suggestions for reflection through scenarios are provided to unpack social constructivism for the CYC practitioner.

While Jamieson reminds us how we came to CYC, and Goodwin points to the forming of silos and relationships, Ward argues for the benefits of professionalisation. She states that the inquests into the deaths of children in care remains too high. While relational CYC practice should also be considered a best practice in out-of-home care services for children and youth, a risk remains as a result of not claiming our professional identity. With created roles, various terms exist that may lead to a lack of clarity in professional identity. Such uncertainty could result in increased risk to children and youth. Much work has been done on the development and implementation of certification standards of CYC practice, but the author is of the belief that we have not yet legitimized our work through certification, accreditation or regulatory processes. A number of recommendations are made to consider for professionalisation.

A clear correlation exists between the professional and knowledgeable conduct of the practitioner and effective service delivery to vulnerable children and youth. This last issue for 2016 complements the many other contributions of authors who pays tribute to the profession with the sharing of their expertise. Each piece of the puzzle builds a picture for practitioners in various settings and, as Trowbridge claims it is with the New Vulcan Academy; what a different timeline to evolve an academy of irrational sentimentalists, a human stereotype instead of a logical human argument.

Finally, complexity is often thrust upon us in both our professional and personal lives. How we respond to it says much about what we have already learned about what we can handle. For those who had big highlights in 2016, may you have even more in 2017. And for those who had many challenges, may next year be marked by your victories. Be blessed.

7  /  Balancing Survival and Existence: Protecting Whole Persons / Paul Paget

20  /  Resilience, Self-efficacy and Belonging: Children at risk / Libby Holmes

Resiliency is conceptualized as the capacity to bounce back from adversity and lead an adaptive life despite the obstacles that have occurred. For some, resiliency is innate, and these individuals will naturally thrive in the face of adversity. This article focuses on those children who are not naturally resilient, and reviews effective intervention strategies that can help build resilient skills. Children who are at risk may encounter challenges throughout their life, and these skills can assist them in adapting to the crisis. Without the capacity to be resilient, it is possible that at risk children will respond in maladaptive ways. It is vital to assist this population in learning effective ways to cope and to be resilient. Practitioners can foster these skills by creating situations for the child to practice self-efficacy. Through this method, the child will learn skills to cope, self-regulate and feel a sense of mastery over their lives. A sense of belonging further impacts one’s ability to build resiliency by providing a stable and consistent relationship.

29  /  Taking a Deeper Look: Identifying and managing the meaning crisis in challenging behaviour through logotherapy  / Birgitta Stay

Logotherapy is an existential form of therapy that focuses on the human search for meaning. As a philosophy, it overarches traditional schools of thought and can provide a deeper insight into the motivation and causes of behaviour, such as those encountered by child and youth care (CYC) workers in their practices. By becoming aware of the spiritual dimension of the challenging behaviour encountered by children and youth, the techniques developed by logotherapy may be appropriately applied to guide the youth into greater spiritual health and overall wellbeing.

40  /  Pedophilia in Youth: Most Beneficial Treatment and Prevention of Child Sexual Exploitation   /  Jaclyn M. D. Nobrega

Individuals diagnosed with pedophilia may be the clients of Child and Youth Care Practitioners (CYCPs) given that a diagnosis for pedophilia may be made as early as the onset of puberty (Seto, 2012). These clients face significant oppression by society's misinformed presumptions which often classify them as sexual predators, and by psychiatry's attempt to alter their sexual orientation. Due to the lack of research on pedophilia, this paper takes on the position that the most beneficial treatment for individuals with pedophilia and for child sexual exploitation prevention, is through advocacy techniques by creating awareness among society and social services researchers. Cross-discipline literature is analyzed, stigma attached to pedophilia, how to break down this stigma, how to support youth with pedophiliac attraction, and how to prevent child sexual abuse while supporting and advocating for this vulnerable population demonized by society.

55  /  What matters? A Demographic and Social Profile of Australia’s Young People in the Beginning of the 21st Century  / Jennifer Brooker

This article provides an insight into the current issues affecting Australia’s young people during 2016 and beyond. Identified through an analysis of Australian census data for 2001, 2006 and 2011, and other relevant global and Australian documents, Australia’s young people are doing well on the global stage. At home a significant change in the country’s cultural mix since the turn of the 21st century adds to issues related to family, education, health, employment and justice.

75  /  Building Caregivers and Communities for Sustainable Transformation  /  Adéle Grosse and Nicolette Roman

For communities to be strong, families need to be strong and strong families are based on strong parent-child relationships. Parents, however, need support in order to be effective parents. This article describes a parenting programme based on strengthening relationships by introducing basic skills and knowledge and establishing networks within communities. Proud2bME® is a unique model developed in South Africa focusing on creating agents of change within a community. Ultimately, communities are trained to be responsible for the development and strengthening of their families to build communities.

83  /  Self or Society? / Bethany Boyle

89  /  Reading Child and Youth Care  / Wolfgang Vachon

93  /  Why Child and Youth Care?  /  Donna Jamieson

97 / A Series of Silos  / Garth Goodwin

102 / Can Professionalization Legitimize Relational Child and Youth Care as a Best Practice?  /  Rebecca Ward

Although the argument against the professionalization of Child and Youth Care (CYC) practice is alive and well, I maintain that it is not only necessary; it has never been more important. Relational approaches are being ignored and trained CYC practitioners are not mandatory in the existing Canadian care system. Relational CYC practice should also be considered a best practice in out-of-home care services for children and youth. CYC practitioners are educated to meet the needs of this particular population of youth through the use of relational life space interventions. Using relationship to develop a therapeutic alliance focused upon strengths and resilience is evidenced to produce positive outcomes with this population of youth. The expertise of the CYC professional requires legitimization so that a relational CYC approach to practice can lead the design of service delivery to reduce risk to those receiving out-of-home care. 

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