When crises control children

How can a youth social worker help with conflicts?

Article was written on 03.09.2020 by Katharina.

When Jonas is bullied in the playground because he wears the "wrong" sweater. When Saskia can't concentrate in class because her father beats her mother. When Lilly is afraid that her best friend will soon "disappear" into Turkey, because she is supposed to get married. Then there's reason to talk. And in such cases youth social work can help.

When crises control children

Mobbing, stress at school, separation - the reasons are different

"Why do students come to you?" I ask Valerie. She works at a middle school as a youth social worker, so she is attached to the youth welfare office and not to the school and the ministry of education.

"The reasons are different," says Valerie and enumerates:

  • Parental separation
  • Resulting fears
  • Conflicts with classmates
  • Bullying
  • Learning difficulties
  • Role conflicts among migrants

"Sometimes these conflicts even end in suicidal thoughts", Valerie describes the situation at her school.

What to do when social interaction is on fire?

First, Valerie tries to get the parents to cooperate. Otherwise, it is good if there are other caregivers, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles or older siblings who can mediate.

"If the welfare of the child is endangered or the pupil no longer wants to go home, in some cases we have to call in the Youth Welfare Office," says Valerie. "Then a member of staff comes to the school and the Youth Welfare Office decides whether the pupil has to be placed in a foster family for the long term or whether the child can be helped on an outpatient basis. There are also other possibilities, such as

  • Educational assistance
  • Social educational family support
  • therapeutic opportunities

Pupils strengthen for a crisis-proof foundation in adult life

But often much can be achieved by strengthening the child:

"I try to strengthen the self-confidence of the pupils and to help by individual education", says Valerie.

It is important to keep in touch throughout their school years and to see what support they need in the respective school year. That can be:

  • Private tuition
  • social group work
  • Anti-bullying training
  • Drug Prevention

But it can also be important to look at the whole family system and offer systemic advice.

"The means to get started vary depending on the student and family," says Valerie.


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