Child Advocacy meets Caregiver Substance Abuse

Hello Frontliners,

Coming back from an exciting couple of weeks! Presented at the BC National Child and Youth Care Conference while sharing  tools and strategies that are field has worked so hard to create and facilitate. I went to Pingulait Park for the girls basketball team as part of an anti-bullying project.

Many themes have come up for me. One of which is advocacy work with young people. As I was hearing some inspiring speakers on topics of mobilization, community engagement, and youth voice. I became to reflect on what happened about 3 weeks ago.

I did not want to talk about it via this blog but I think it has been on my mind for too long, so for my own sanity it is better that I write.

In the last couple of months, I have two students who are under the age of 12 who have been witnessing caregiver substance abuse. Teachers, administrators, and other support staff came to me to mention the behaviour and emotional change they have seen in these two girls.

Instead of reporting this to Youth Protection, I wanted to talk to the parents to bring light with some of the issues that their girls are dealing with at school. In the meeting, I addressed the excessive alcohol in the household; however, being mindful of any embarrassment, guilt, or shaming. One of the hardest things I had to do as a frontline. In the middle of the meeting, the parents were also reminded about different services that may exist within the community and different people that can be of great resources.

Despite the self-awareness and maintaining a compassionate stance in the issue of alcoholism and child fatigue, the meeting was still hard to swallow. Although, I am an advocate for young people, I felt like I was invading a family affair.

Then I question….

What do we do this job for? to let young people suffer or to be the voice of young people when they are in the most vulnerable situations? I feel like I would do a disservice by just letting this behaviour keep going without any notice. I am here for the students, and sometimes we frontliners are in a situation that often involve mirroring the truth.

We never just ever work with the young person, we are consistently supporting or engaging their social systems in order to provide appropriate and effective interventions.

Thanks for reading,

Marleigh

 

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