The health watchdog NICE has been accused by the body representing psychologists who work in schools of stigmatising children in its attempts to class misbehaviour as a medical disorder. This is from the Times…
The Association of Educational Psychologists says that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is “medicalising” behavioural problems and that its new guidance will damage children’s self-worth by making them think there is something wrong with them.
NICE issued guidance to NHS and social services last month on the estimated 5 per cent of children who have “conduct disorders”, characterised by persistent bad behaviour at home, school and in social life. Parenting classes, counselling and drugs were among its recommendations.
Kate Fallon, General Secretary of the association, said: “I’m disappointed and alarmed by the position NICE appears to have set out: namely that difficult behaviour should be regarded as some sort of disorder and should be considered primarily in a medical context. All behaviour is a form of communication. There are countless explanations for a child’s behaviour, and many of these may be excluded if behaviour is viewed as some form of medical problem.”
The association, which represents psychologists working in schools, was consulted during the development of the guidance, but argues that the final version “risks some children’s behaviour being considered in solely medical terms”. This “send the wrong signals” and could be “highly damaging to children’s sense of self-worth”, they say. Children should be helped by a wider range of professionals, they argue.