The Mulberry Bush School
The Mulberry Bush Organization
Comprised of a residential school, an outreach consultancy and a training program for other organizations, the Mulberry Bush Organization aims at improving the life chances and social inclusion of traumatized children and young people. Its website offers information about educational, training and consultancy programs. The Mulberry Bush School is non-government maintained special school with charitable status. Find out how you can support the school.
The Guardian: Neglected Option
This article offers a thorough profile of the Mulberry Bush School. Journalist Annie Kelly describes the school’s fundamental purpose, the student selection process and the general support the school has received from local communities and the government. (June 20, 2007)
The Sunday Times: Inside the Home for Angry Infants
This comprehensive article provides an intimate look inside the Mulberry Bush School and the circumstances that brought the emotionally disturbed children to the school. (May 11, 2008)
Childhood Emotional Trauma and Abuse
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
The goal of the NCTSN is to provide better resources and care for traumatized children and their families. The organization’s website features a comprehensive look at the different types of traumatic stress, as well as a page of resources for those seeking help or wishing to learn more about the measures being taken to help emotionally traumatized children.
Prevent Child Abuse America
Many viewers who have watched Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go want to know what they can do to prevent the abuse and trauma that the children in the film suffered so that a school like Mulberry Bush might someday no longer be necessary. Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America) has developed free, downloadable PDFs that promote good parenting and a community-wide approach to child abuse prevention. You can also find out about state chapters and local activities aimed at reducing instances of child abuse in your community.
Child Welfare Information Gateway (CWIG)
A service of the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the CWIG provides access to information and resources to help protect and strengthen families in America. The site covers many topics related to childcare, including preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect, foster care and adoption services and advice for supporting and preserving families. The Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series provides guidance on identifying, preventing and effectively responding to child maltreatment.
DART Center for Journalism and Trauma
Columbia University’s DART Center was established in the early 1990s by academics hoping to help journalists and journalism students write about the victims of trauma and crime with compassion, respect and dignity. Today, the center is still committed to “improving media coverage of trauma, conflict and tragedy.” The website is aimed at journalists, health professionals, scholars and clinicians with specific gateways for each group. One of their publications, “Covering Children and Trauma,” offers an ethics guide for interviewing children who have undergone childhood trauma.
Treatment and Counseling for Traumatized Children
Mayo Clinic: Reactive Attachment Disorder
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, treatment of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) varies, and often includes a “mix of psychological counseling, medications and education about the disorder.” Because there are a variety of treatment approaches in practice, some practices, such as “tightly wrapping, binding or holding children” (as shown in the film) are unproven and controversial. The doctors note that “the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children have all criticized dangerous and unproven treatment techniques for reactive attachment disorder.” if you suspect that your child or a child you know suffers from RAD, the Mayo Clinic suggests a number of ways to cope with and support a child and his or her caregiver.
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP): Policy Statements
In 2003, AACAP’s Child Abuse and Neglect Committee stated their policy on coercive interventions for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). The doctors recognize that some therapists have used “compression holding therapy,” a type of treatment that “include[s] physically coercive methods like adults forcibly holding a child to improve attachment.” The AACAP notes that there is “no scientific proof that these techniques are effective… [and] therefore urges that these coercive, dangerous and ineffective practices be discontinued.”
Massachusetts Advocates for Children
MAC’s Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative aims to improve schools so that they become safe, supportive environments for traumatized children. The first step in their initiative was the release of a comprehensive report entitled “Helping Traumatized Children Learn,” which is available as a free downloadable PDF on their website. The report provides a school-wide flexible framework and a public policy agenda for creating “trauma-sensitive schools” where troubled children and their classmates can focus, behave and learn.
Knowbility: Improving Education for Students with Emotional Disturbance
In 2002, Knowbility partnered with the Assistive Technology Division of the Austin Independent School District in an effort to create a more successful learning environment for emotionally disturbed children. This report outlines the problems specific to the classroom for emotionally disturbed children over the long and short term and then offers a description of the new strategies successfully implemented during the course of the program.
The Missourian: Teacher Works Magic With Emotionally Disturbed Children
This article offers an up-close look at the efforts and techniques of elementary school teacher Jennifer Luna, who works with emotionally disturbed children at Parkade Elementary School. The article also provides insight into some of the personal and legal issues surrounding the condition of these children and their efforts to remain students. (Dec. 19, 2008)
Psychiatric Times: Music Therapy with Emotionally Disturbed Children
This in-depth look at the use of music therapy to help emotionally disturbed children outlines the methods used and the effect music therapy has on the brain. The article ends with a summary of a study in which music therapy helped a traumatized 9-year-old girl learn to channel her emotions effectively in a nonviolent manner. (June 1, 2003)
On Playing a Poor Hand Well: Insights from the Lives of Those Who Have Overcome Childhood Risks and Adversities. Mark Katz. (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1997)
This collection of stories about adults who have survived difficult childhoods is helpful in understanding the factors that lead to resiliency and success. The book is useful to therapists, teachers, parents and other child caretakers interested in helping at-risk children to “beat the odds.”
Residential Child Care: Prospects and Challenges. Ed. Andrew Kendrick. (Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007)
Kendrick’s book incorporates the latest research in defense of residential child care and explains how such methods are beneficial to children.
Therapeutic Communities for Children and Young People. Eds. Adrian Ward, Kajetan Kasinski, Jane Pooley and Alan Worthington. (Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2003)
This book — a collection of essays — explores the roles of therapeutic communities and the creation of therapeutic environments as an effective method for working with traumatized and emotionally disturbed children.
Therapeutic Approaches in Work With Traumatized Children and Young People. Patrick Tomlinson. (Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2004)
This book combines theories on working with traumatized children with the experiences of the staff of the Cotswold Community, a residential and education facility for traumatized young boys. The author complements theory with descriptions of innovative actions focused on dealing with a wide range of key issues.
Parenting Programs and Available Social Services in the United States
This website provides a space for parents to become more informed and find support on a variety of topics. The special needs section of the parenting forum includes threads on emotional disturbance and behavioral issues. A blog post on the site titled “Emotional Disturbance in Children” provides information on obtaining support to help the child succeed in school.
Families First Parenting Programs
Provides a number of programs and services, Families First helps foster healthier relationships between parents and children. By exploring the website, visitors can learn more about positive parenting and other techniques that help to build healthier relationships and shape healthier children, including timely tipsheets like Managing the Impact of Economic Uncertainty. The website also indicates a variety of volunteer opportunities, from donating services to joining committees to assisting in the organization’s offices.
National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health serves as the national family voice for children’s mental health and works to support the voice of families in the formation of policies that serve the needs of children with mental, emotional and behavioral health challenges. The national office focuses primarily on national level policy initiatives by linking the policies of the 127 state and local chapters. Most of the group’s advocacy is handled in collaboration with other organizations through coalitions, including the Mental Health Liaison Group, the Campaign for Mental Health Reform and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition.
National Mental Health Information Center: Child and Adolescent Mental Health
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a list of programs that offer information and support related to improving the mental health of children and families, as well as a mental health services locator that provides contact information for all 50 states.
ARCH National Respite Network
This website provides information concerning the rights of and resources available to family members and other caregivers who are currently caring for children with disabilities, specifically those who are emotionally disturbed. It provides a series of fact sheets, as well as a respite locator to help families find support services. Membership to the website provides access to supportive discussion boards and materials.
PBS and NPR
This helpful site is chock full of guides, articles and information for parents and caregivers who are looking for parenting advice. The site includes guides for raising boys and girls, a child development tracker, blogs and the opportunity for parents to talk with eachother about their experiences raising children.
Bill Moyer’s Journal: Marta Peláez
Bill Moyers talks with Marta Peláez, president and CEO of Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc., a domestic abuse shelter in San Antonio, TX, for perspective on the human face of the economic downturn and how it may be pushing more families over the edge. The website also provides tips and resources for safeguarding your community against domestic violence. (March 20, 2009)
Frontline: Little Criminals
A six year-old California boy nearly beats a baby to death. What makes a child so violent? How do we deal with him? The website for this program offers questions and answers from experts about troubled kids, essays on whether a violent child can be changed and the cycle of abuse and violence and more resources. (May, 1997)
It’s My Life: Dealing with Anger
This website for kids encourages them to explore various topics and provides resources for them to deal with their emotions, including anger.
Learn about improving the overall quality of life for children with or without disabilities by promoting inclusion and respect for differences. The resources on this website can help parents and caregivers create more inclusive communities.
Talk of the Nation: Schools Using Dangerous
Discipline Methods Handcuffs, tape and isolation are tools used on children with behavioral disorders in some classrooms. Restraint and isolation techniques are sometimes necessary to prevent students from harming themselves and others. But some educators argue for emphasizing prevention. (May 21, 2009)
Morning Edition: Report: Discipline Methods Endanger Disabled Kids
A large number of schools use potentially dangerous methods to discipline children, particularly those with disabilities in special education classes, a report from Congress’ investigative arm finds. In some cases, the Government Accountability Office report notes, children have died or been injured when they have been tied, taped, handcuffed or pinned down by adults or locked in secluded rooms, often to be left for hours at a time. (May 19, 2009)
This American Life — Unconditional Love: Love Is a Battlefield
Alix Spiegel tells the story of a couple, Heidi and Rick Solomon, who adopt a son who was raised in terrible circumstances in a Romanian orphanage, unable to feel attachments to anyone…and what they do about it. (27 minutes, August 31, 2007)