Crisis is a condition, which upsets the balance in the regular functioning of a person, family or a society in a destructive fashion and the situations can not be overcome through general problem solving resources. Crisis leads to a stressful situation, which is generally difficult to cope with, and needs proper and planned ways of intervention to be resolved. To understand crisis, a scenario can be discussed. In this case the person in crisis was a girl of 13 years of age belonging to an Indian tribal family. She worked for a family as domestic help.
She was very thin and weak but extremely aggressive in nature. The person who identified her problem was the lady who employed her. The lady was a housewife from a well to do family. According to the lady, the girl started working at her place at the age of 11. She belonged to a local tribal family where girl child was not at all welcome. She had three younger sisters and a brother. Her parents were working as daily laborers. Her father spent all the hard earned money to the local wine shop and her mother found it extremely difficult to support the family with her meager income.
She sent her eldest daughter to work and earn money for the family. Not only that, her father used to beat her and her mother regularly for money. The girl was extremely malnourished and neglected and was used as a money earning machine. Her employer tried to send her to a school but did not succeed as according to her family going to school was complete wastage of time. The problems of child labor, lack of education, gender bias, physical abuse, problem between parents all existed together in her life. This was not a typical case but a general picture in several poor backward class families in India.
The situation is treated as a crisis because the solution of all these problems was beyond the capacity of the little girl. She was the victim of the situation of chronic crisis in her family and was unable to cope with the situation. It was evident from her aggressive nature, attraction towards bad company, eagerness to shun her family, physical injuries and weakness, etc. She was a victim of developmental crisis. Her parents unknowingly restricted the development of her physical and psychological health. Hailing from a poor tribal family only aggravated her situation.
The social class she belonged to was not at all favorable to a girl child. They generally thought of them as family burden as the child was unable to earn for them and after growing up was going to support another family after marriage. Lack of knowledge and education made them treat school education as wastage of time and money. Being a child the girl could not speak her mind or was suppressed forcibly. Thus, she lacked education, was forced to work, losing her psychological balance and was growing to lead a cluttered and abusive life and may also become a problem for the society.
Timely intervention at the time of crisis is the most important part in crisis intervention. In most of the cases of child abuse it is often too late before the society comes to know about the occurrence and can take any action to save the child or repair the damage. In this case as the event was of chronic crisis the intervention may start as soon as the crisis was identified. Here the child needed a support system either from family or outside. Her employer in this case could provide the support, which was lacking from her family. (“Crisis Intervention in Child Abuse and Neglect”)
During crisis individuals generally experience some common feelings that can affect psychological balance and produce impact on assessment and treatment of the crisis. These kinds of feelings and their reflection in life should not be treated as mental illness. In such conditions people may show disorganized and confusing behavior where they forget important details or practice inappropriate actions which were helpful in the past. They tend to confuse fear and wishes with reality. To cope with such disorganization they tend to be involved in insignificant activities.
Crisis laden people may become hostile or emotionally distant from any sort of intervention. Some people act impulsively without thinking about the consequences and lead to more complex situation. People may depend completely on the person trying to help them in time of crisis, like in this case the child can depend on her employer and expect her to fill the gap created by her parents. Identity crisis, lower self-perception, and withdrawal are also observed as common behaviors. (“Crisis Intervention in Child Abuse and Neglect”)
To intervene to the crisis, the assessment of the situation is the key point. Every individual or family responds to certain situations differently. Still it is necessary to assess the risk of abuse in the given situation. To assess the crisis it is required to consider each member of the family individually as well as the part of the family. Listening to each member’s version of the crisis individually may help reach the root of the problem. Active and careful listening is the most important criterion of the crisis worker while assessing the crisis.
Identifying the underlying problem and precipitating events, observing family interactions and conditions and determining the family needs carefully help assessing the risk to the family members accurately. The safety measures can be practiced accordingly especially for children. A few screening instruments may be helpful in this respect, namely, Child Abuse Potential Inventory, Child Maltreatment Interview Schedule, Family Assessment Form (FAF) and few Family Risk Scales. Training to use all such instruments can be very helpful for the crisis worker.
Before terminating the service the crisis worker should be very sure that the risk factor has been removed completely and the child or other family members are totally safe. All family members should be involved in each and every step of crisis assessment and intervention. Non-judgmental and open-minded crisis worker helps the family best in crisis assessment and intervention. S/he must understand the social customs and family traditions and must convince the person or family in crisis that s/he came to listen to their problem and to help them in coping with the situation and not to accuse them.
Lack of understanding or acceptance at either end may lead to more complicated circumstances. (Blakester) For successful crisis intervention the crisis worker first needs to understand the crisis thoroughly and needs to be competent enough to provide expert support to the victims. Crisis intervention is time limited. Therefore the crisis worker needs to set specific goals to make the intervention as a success. Like in the present case it was not possible to solve all the family problems, which were the root causes of the child’s crisis at a time.
So the crisis worker should prioritize the problems to be solved. The worker can first try to make good rapport with the girl and the family of the girl and listen to the problems carefully. The family first needs to understand that their child is facing a crisis due to their behavior. This may help the girl as well as her family to accept his/ her intervention to solve the crisis. S/he can try to find out their actions to deal with the situation. The worker can try to find out the strength of the girl that can improve her self esteem and her needs which need to be taken care of.
Her family’s potentials and requirement need also be assessed. The reasons behind the crisis can then be chalked out. Once the reasons are established, the worker can suggest alternative approaches which can motivate the child and her family to overcome the crisis. The crisis worker can then help them with the formulation of goals, objectives and actions based on their priorities. The actions must be achievable at first to increase the confidence of the family. To be successful the worker needs to be focused but at the same time compassionate and flexible to slight changes in goals.
In this case, the family can first stop the physical abuse of the child. Then they can try to improve interpersonal relationship by listening to what the girl has to say. If possible they can help her with her needs and if not then try to make her see the reasons peacefully. They can spare her a little time for her education. Simultaneously, the girl’s father needs counseling to cope with his bad habit and be able to support his family. As the crisis worker finds the situation to improve s/he can reduce support slowly and observe the family if they can continue with their own.
Follow up must always be done to motivate them to work positively. (“Crisis Intervention in Child Abuse and Neglect”) An event of successful crisis intervention in a child abuse case can be cited to conclude the discussion on a positive note. Windale in the New South Wales Lake Macquarie region of Australia was declared the most socially disadvantaged community of New South Wales in1999. All possible events of child abuse were present in the community. Percentage of child protection was only 1, the worst in New South Wales.
(Blakester)Under these circumstances a community centre named Alcazar Centre was established there attached to the local primary school. The community centre initiated programs as below: • parenting classes; • the staged introduction of preschool-aged children to schools; • joint exercise and sociability groups for isolated mothers; • an Aboriginal health service and community nursing; • the identification of talented youngsters and provision of academic extension opportunities; • locally created scholarships and the Department of Housing’s relocation of some families to make schools more accessible;
• the involvement of fathers in making various contributions to the life of the school and a general increased involvement by parents in school life; • a Shop Smart nutrition program; • improved street lighting, enabling safe travel at night, and a Windale ‘welcome’ landmark, building community pride; and • the sponsorship of school and sporting needs by local businesses With regular work on the above programs Windale Primary School became the model of schools as community centres across whole New South Wales.
The Alcazar Centre was given an Award for Excellence by the Director General of the NSW Department of Education and Training. Windale community proved that prevention of child abuse is possible with case specific approach and almost insignificant steps can altogether make the difference. The child protection in Windale community was found to reach 25%, being the best in New South Wales in 2003. (Blakester) Works Cited 1) Blakester, Adam, “Practical child abuse and neglect prevention (Case Study 2)”, Child Abuse Prevention Newsletter, vol. 14 no.
2 Winter 2006, Australian Institute of Family Studies, National Child Protection Clearing House, ISSN 1447-0039 (Print); 1447-0047 (Online), 13 June 2008, < http://www. aifs. gov. au/nch/pubs/newsletters/nl2006/winter. html > 2) “Crisis Intervention in Child Abuse and Neglect”, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Gentry, User Manual Series 1994, Circle Solutions, Inc. , McLean, VA, under subcontract No. S-105-89-1730 with Westover Consultants, Inc. , 12 June 2008, <http://www. childwelfare. gov/pubs/usermanuals/crisis/crisis. pdf>