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Government must improve mental health support for generation of angry youths

Interventions for children with mental health problems should be put in place more quickly if the government wants to curb the nation's escalating levels of violent crime, according to Dr. Sally Henry at Brunel University's School of Social Sciences.

Dr. Henry is calling for an end to the lengthy procedures that need to be followed before a child can receive therapeutic and educational support. She argues that it should be made easier and quicker for parents to obtain statements of Special Educational Needs without encountering resistance and delays from the Local Education Authority. Only then will children from broken homes, who lack the support and positive role models present in the traditional family environment, be given a chance to learn how to regulate their anger and insecurity, which is increasingly leading to gang culture.

“Political reactions to the recent spate of gun crime in the UK have shown a real concern for the problem and its causes, but not one party has identified the need for mental health support for families in order to curb the escalating problem,“ says Dr. Henry. “The Tories, for example, have spoken about the importance of traditional family values being re-instilled and fathers encouraged to take a greater role in childcare. Labour talked about criminalising gang membership and reducing the age at which gun possession faces a jail sentence from 21 to 17, but the stark reality is that we are already into the second generation of fatherless families and something additional needs to be done to break this cycle.

“Children's anger needs to be managed in a positive way and parents need to be taken seriously when they ask for support. Currently, it can take up to two years for a parent to receive this support, at which point it may be too late to prevent their child from taking the wrong course in life. This must change and I call upon Governments to consider this issue very seriously if they are truly committed to solving the current violent crime issue.“

Dr. Henry, who has completed extensive research studies in the area of bullying and family breakdown, explores the coping strategies employed by emotionally insecure children in her new book, 'Explaining bullying as a Social Pathology - a Peer Group Analysis', which will be launched later this year by Mellon Press.