WATCHING IN CHILD AND YOUTH CARE SUICIDE INTERVENTIONS: THE POTENTIAL FOR OBSERVATION PRACTICES TO BE DISENGAGING

Patti Ranahan

Abstract


As a group of practitioners who work with adolescents, child and youth care professionals are likely to encounter suicidal adolescents in their practice. Recognizing and responding to the needs of a suicidal adolescent is challenging as professionals attempt to balance their relationship with the young person while simultaneously following customary rules of suicide intervention such as engaging in observational practices. Findings are presented from a larger constructivist grounded theory study that explains the problem of balancing physical proximity with relational proximity in observational practices with suicidal adolescents. Derived from data analysis of interviews with 19 child and youth care professionals, supervisors in youth-serving organizations, educators in schools of child and youth care, and textual analysis, I identified the observational practice of watching. Such practice involves maintaining physical proximity to the adolescent, monitoring his or her movements, and documenting observations at pre-determined intervals. While the intent of watching may be to ensure safety, findings indicate that watching may position the professional peripherally to the intervention and be enacted separate from relational engagement. As a consequence, watching is viewed as a disengaging practice. Implications for practice and avenues for future research are offered.


Keywords


suicide, observation, child and youth care practice, grounded theory

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International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies

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© University of Victoria
Victoria, BC Canada

 

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