Residential Treatment for Children Ethics

Do not do to a troubled or sick child what you would not do to a healthy adult

This principle is the basic moral rule that applies when addressing a disturbed or sick child. No matter how deeply troubled a child is, ce is still a sensitive human being and must be treated as such.

We see that frequent disrespect to children generally and to troubled children in particular happens because even when healthy children are defenseless and are all the more so when disturbed or sick. For many adults power over little and young beings goes by itself because it comes from the natural trend of the big to dominate the small.

Violence to a child : assistants must not be physically or verbally violent to a
child, they must keep their self-control. If a situation with a child deteriorates so badly that the assistant feels overcome by acute feelings of anger and frustration, ce must then call for help or ask an other adult to take over to avoid an outburst that would bring no good to nobody.

No punishment nor threat of punishment are to be used. Provocations by children if any are to be analyzed and not retaliated.
Holding a child is allowed only in case of emergency or for protecting an other
child at risk of being assaulted.
Isolation room or whatever means intended to intimidate or frighten the children are not to be used.
Real healing happens thru compassion, not fear. The enforcement of common moral rules is effective by the assistants' sincerity when they express why a rule needs to be followed.
Should a child be repeatedly violent and attacking others beyond what we can
control, the child would be informed ce is at risk of being rejected from the project.

Making a child cry in the course of any action : the mere fact of making a child cry is unacceptable. When realizing that a child is suffering, one should stop immediately whatever the attempt is, and this before coming to the point
where the child starts crying.
No one, whatever the titles, degrees or diplomas held has the moral right to make somebody else suffer, especially when it is an adult in relation with a child, and all the more in the case of a severely emotionally or sick child.

Nevertheless, if when with an assistant a child starts crying, the matter could be positive if the child cries as a release of repressed feelings since the time when neglected, abused or traumatized ce was not allowed to cry by the relevant adult(s). In that case, the child' s crying would be on the contrary beneficial to ce as part of the therapeutic process, and it is called technically an "abreaction", which means postponed normal reaction.
Adults feel bad in presence of a crying child so they try to have the child stop crying : in therapy that would be a mistake as curing commands that children can exteriorize any sorrow that is surfacing in them as long as necessary.


Moral education : originally all children (then everybody) are born with a clear sense of justice that later can be forcibly perverted by bad experiences with some adults. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to treat each child with justice and consideration and to behave oneself in the best way possible, so that the children will regain a sound basis for managing their lives and in particular for being able again to distinguish good from bad.

We volunteer to inform the children about anything they would like to know
about their past or their parents, this for not keeping them in confusion or doubt about facts of first importance for them and for their life.
On the other hand children have also the right to refuse to know any information that would be sad or negative : it is up to them to decide as much
as they want to hear. Therefore if a child asks a question about ces relatives,
we have the duty to answer honestly and fully to the best of our knowledge, but we have to keep to what the child asked because ce may be ready to hear only one part of the story at the time ce asks.
Similarly, each child has free access to ces file, and we volunteer to explain words ce would not understand.


Consistency of the place : rules are the same for every member of the household, big or little, to allow experiences of mutual care to happen and from the belief that, whatever the age of the person is, child or grown-up we all strive to reach happiness, fulfillment and balance thru good relationships with others.


Love and care to the children must be provided without waiting for a return of gratefulness from them because that would place them in an indebted position : real love is always disinterested, it is a gift, not an investment. Therefore each child is free to leave at any moment without owing anything to anybody, like with the best relationships we can experience in our personal life, because assistants have their own share of pleasure and interest in the process of helping a child. If they would want gratefulness from the child that would mean they did not find their task of helping and being in the child's company rich enough. Similarly to a regular family, when the child has grown up and feels ready to leave for starting ces own life, the adults don't wait for a personal return : happiness of the time spent together is sufficient and they don't want to entrap the child in a life-long dependency thru owed gratefulness.
Sincere loving means letting be free (more on this at the Dependency Vs. Love page).


The place is conceived so that a child may stay unlimitedly according to the needs ce feels : though this project is for a place specialized in therapeutic foster care, even after a child would have completely healed ce can still stay and carry on living at the place. This is designed in regard to the
important percentage of children in therapeutic care programs who never return with their biological parents. Thus this project strives to provide the children with a sense of belonging and stability, safe from risk of rejection and abandonment.


Freedom as a basic right : we believe that freedom is a fundamental human value, guaranteed by law in democratic countries. Therefore we believe that everybody has the right to be free with no exception whatever ces age, gender, race and culture are. We then want to treat the children with the same regard we use with adults and respect the children in the same way.

Further, we believe that without freedom it is not possible to build good relationships, and as a consequence respect means always letting the other person free except in case of emergency, as only consentive relationships can be happy.

With troubled persons, and all the more with troubled children, we need to stay particularly attentive to the way we treat them because, as they are disturbed, they are less likely to be in a position to speak for themselves and to defend their basic human rights. Thus we do not value control over other human beings, on the contrary we try to avoid it as much as possible as we view it as detrimental to the patients' healing and growth and contrary to their basic rights.


Redefining relationships between children and adults : we believe that it is damaging to relationships when adults maintain themselves in a position of domination over children, thus lacking respect and being wrong role models for
the younger generations. We believe that children and young people do not have to please adults but have to find their own ways for reaching a full, creative and happy human life. They have to take care of themselves first because later we will be gone while they will still be living, the future is theirs.
We believe it is the adults' responsibility to help them find their personalized ways for fulfilling themselves and make bloom their unique characteristics as individual persons.


Removing a child from the therapeutic home against ces will must not happen because it is treating the child like an object, without regard for ces feelings and needs.


Release of information to third parties : professional ethics demand that the "therapist does not betray the child's confidence to the parent or anyone else who might ask what the child has said or done during therapy hours" (V. Axline). All information released to third parties about a child must first have prior consent of the child, except for mandatory reporting for child abuse or neglect facts if there is a likelihood of happening again to this child or is a risk for an other child. But before disclosing, the assistant must explain to the child the necessity of doing so, as it is an exception to the confidentiality duty.


"No one is ever required to answer any question even if asked by one of the therapists : this for protecting children from being "put on the spot" as it would leave them defenseless against any intrusions into the privacy of their feelings if they had not the right to not answer without having to give an excuse" (C. Sager & H. Kaplan).


Behavior modification techniques : are not to be used in this project because we believe that such practices alienate further the children from themselves when they have to act according to the will of adults rather than to what they themselves feel, and they have to suffer the humiliation of being manipulated.
Such practices are made for satisfying adults' needs, not children' s needs, and do not help the children to grow into independent and healthy persons.


Should a child want to display something sexual, ce must not be blocked nor encouraged to act out but rather helped to express verbally what ce feels
as this may be a good opportunity to free ce from a trauma of sexual nature that leads ce to compulsive repetition as long as it is not treated.
Repressing is not therapeutic, analyzing is.


Ethical treatment of animals : the therapeutic location is cage-free because
permanent detention of animals is painful for them whatever the device is (cage, fish tank).
Eggs, dairy and other products from animals are preferably bought from
open air pastures and organic farming companies because we disapprove of growing animals in confinement factory farms, for sanitary and moral reasons.
"Consider how we would want to be treated, then treat animals that way" (B.
Scheunemann).
Going against the natural needs of an animal or making one suffer is never acceptable.
Generally, we strive to lean toward a vegetarian diet but without pushing children to adopt such a trend too.

Rev. 2013


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