Prevention of aggressive behaviour and violence in childcare institutions
Keywords:<i>violence</i>, <i>aggression</i>, <i>personal competence</i>, <i>childcare institution</i>, <i>mentalisation</i>, <i>prevention</i>
The article describes how personal qualities in the helpers are important measures to prevent aggression and violent behaviour from adolescents living in childcare institutions. Our research question was: In what way does personal competence make a difference in the prevention of violence, and how is this ‘personal competence’ expressed? Through six semi-structured individual interviews and one focus group interview with staff from five state-run childcare institutions in Norway, we found that the helpers’ attitude is of great importance to avoid unnecessary confrontation. Our study indicates that staff who search to find the reason behind aggression, and who are deeply concerned about the well-being of the young people tend to ease conflict, rather than trigger it. We see their attitude as a choice of perspective in their work with adolescents, and we see it as a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach. This perspective is an integral part of the child-care workers’ personal competence, and implies recognition of the perspectives young people have on their own situation. The importance of personal competence to prevent aggression and violent behaviour is evident, and the ability of mentalisation is argued to be significant in these child-care workers.