Where is the Compassion for Children?

Posted March 10, 2016

This post was authored by Kim Sanders, Ukeru Systems’ President

Recently, a video popped up on my Facebook feed that was utterly heart wrenching: a home care giver was pushing, kicking and pulling the hair of a frail 94-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s. This was so disturbing to watch that I found myself unable to get through the entire one minute and forty-three seconds.

As I read the comments in response to the video, unsurprisingly, not a single person articulated any level of support or understanding for the caregiver. There is no justification for that kind of behavior. When we see a scenario like this, our thoughts go immediately to the vulnerable, elderly woman and we are flooded with compassion. Why, then, do we not show the same level of compassion when it comes to another vulnerable population – children?

It seems as though nearly every week we see another instance of someone in a position of authority — for example, a health care giver, an educator, a school resource officer — putting their hands on a child in an attempt to physically manage their behavior. Several such videos have gone viral in recent months and illustrate how traumatic these scenarios are.

When I look at the comments related to videos of children being physically restrained, there is a decidedly more mixed reaction. Many respondents take the side of the authority figure, putting the responsibility for the situation on the child saying “he/she needs to get control of themselves and have some respect. ” Others put on the burden on the child’s parents with comments like  “this child needs to be better disciplined.”

This leaves me wondering: Where is the compassion for children?

Perhaps there is a sense that such hands-on methods might be necessary so that a child is neither a harm to him or herself or others in the nearby vicinity. But the data proves the opposite is actually true; physical restraint is not only ineffective, it can lead to further trauma for those both directly and indirectly involved. It also puts everyone at a greater risk for injury.

With proper training in communication, de-escalation and trauma informed care, caregivers and others who work with vulnerable populations can do so safely and effectively without the use of physical methods like restraints. Because no one – whether they are elderly or a child – deserves to be treated with such a lack of compassion.