Therapeutic Approaches in Work with Traumatized Children and Young People: Theory and Practice

By Patrick Tomlinson | Go to book overview

Chapter 10

Gender Issues,
Sexuality and Dress

Due to their experiences, traumatized children often have a distorted perception of gender, for example, they might believe that men are violent and women submissive. In our work with traumatized children we have the opportunity to work through matters related to their own identity and gender, as well as to experience positive gender role models. Sexuality is closely associated with gender and the two may be confused for children who have been abused. We can expect traumatized children to have powerful feelings in relation to gender and sexuality and to be highly sensitized in this area. The way we dress expresses both our gender and sexuality, and needs careful consideration.


The gender balance in teams

In residential child care, it is probably unusual to find teams of staff equally balanced in terms of gender. Usually there are more female than male staff. At the Community, it was more usual to have more men than women.

Is it helpful in principle to aim for an equal balance and always to have at least one man and woman working? Sometimes when we are particularly anxious about the gender balance, we could give potentially negative messages to children – for example, if we say or imply, 'things won't be all right this evening unless there is a man working.' Some children become more panicky or violent when there is not a mix of men and women working.

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