Specialist training provider Rock Pool has launched a series of courses to inform and equip professionals working with children and young people who have been exploited into gangs.
The Exploited Children and Gangs training has been developed by a team with more than 40 years combined experience in policing, youth justice, youth work, parenting and trauma informed working in mental health services.
The one and two day courses aim to equip attendees with the knowledge of the risks faced by children and young people today. They provide techniques and tools to enable trauma-informed working, helping children and young people develop the skills they need to recover from their experiences.
The training shares the most recent insights on how trauma affects the architecture of the developing brain. It covers the latest theories and emerging research on the impact of trauma and latent vulnerability such as:
– Polyvagal Theory, which explores the links between human experiences and automated physical body functions
– Epigenetics, which looks at alterations in the way genes are read and expressed
– Neuroplasticity, which is how the brain changes its structure and organisation throughout people’s lives as they experience, learn and adapt.
Delegates who attend the courses will leave with the knowledge needed to recognise, understand and respond effectively and compassionately to the risks to children of criminal exploitation.
It is estimated that around 27,000 children in the UK currently identify as being in gangs, according to a 2019 report published by the Children’s Commissioner. The report warned that agencies working with children had not learnt from the mistakes of child sexual exploitation and were still treating children as perpetrators rather than victims.
Jo Majauskis, Rock Pool’s Director of training and development, said: “We face a national epidemic of children being manipulated to join gangs where they are criminally exploited.
“There is mounting evidence that children and young people who face adversity in their early years are much more at risk of exploitation.
“Childhood adversity can lead to a less controlled stress response, poor parental bonds and attachment insecurity. All this makes children feel unsafe and thus more eager to try to fit in with their peers. This can be exacerbated by community factors such as social exclusion and living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Gangs prey on children through their wish to ‘belong’.
“Once in the gangs young people may be exposed to intimidation, violence, drug use and threats resulting in mental and physical health problems.
“We developed this training to empower and inspire professionals working in front line services with exploited young people, to take a trauma informed approach.
“Tackling child criminal exploitation effectively requires a paradigm shift; we need to learn from our mistakes and stop viewing children who have been groomed as criminals who are responsible for their own situation but instead, view these vulnerable children using a trauma lens, offering safety, trust, empathy and compassion.”
Rock Pool offers training courses and recovery programmes tailored to organisations that support people who have been affected by complex or developmental trauma.
Co-founded by Sue Penna and Kirsty Mooney, Rock Pool harnesses their combined experience working in frontline services dealing with domestic and sexual violence and adverse childhood experiences with the vision of helping to create a society that is trauma-informed.
Rock Pool’s course portfolio includes trauma-informed practice training for organisations to offer a better understanding of trauma and its impacts, recovery toolkit facilitator programmes which enable delegates to support people who have experienced different types of trauma such as domestic abuse and sexual violence recovery.