Health Young people feel unsafe in residential care

Young people feel unsafe in residential care

Most young people in residential care feel they are at risk of physical threats, sexual harm, bullying and harassment – suggesting drastic changes need to be made to improve their safety, according to a new study.

The findings are contained in a report released by The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“Most children and young people reported that they did not feel safe in residential care,” said lead researcher Dr Tim Moore from the Institute of Child Protection Studies (ICPS) at Australian Catholic University.

“They advocated for safe residential units: those that were home-like, that functioned as they believed a normal home and family functioned, and where life was better than it was when they lived with their biological families or in foster care.”

He said the young people researchers spoke to felt ambivalent about staff members’ capacity to effectively prevent or deal with bullying, physical and sexual harassment and violence, often feeling that they had to be responsible for preventing these issues themselves.

“The participants clearly articulated what they thought could be done to improve their experience in residential care, such as better matching of peers, involving young people in decision-making about placements, and limiting the number of moves from one unit to another,” Dr Moore said.

The report is part of a larger project commissioned by the Royal Commission which explored children and young people’s views and perceptions of safety in institutions.

It will directly contribute to the Commission’s final report and may inform recommendations in relation to residential care

The study was undertaken in conjunction with researchers from Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology.

Read more about this breakthrough study here. Story credit: Australian Catholic University newsroom.

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