The Safe Box


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The description of a mental health promotion package to be used in classrooms to support leaners whose parents are going through a divorce. Includes photos of all the components of the package, how they link to the circle of courage, and other 'bits and pieces'.

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  • Before we start our presentation we would like to emphasise that we are in no way presenting any personal opinions or beliefs about this topic and are in no way making any judgments on divorce. We are only stating the results of research and the concern of our resource is directed at the children with the intent of building resilience to CHANGE within the context of divorce.
  • Divorce is a very common occurrence in our society today. The most recent statistics show that there were almost 48 000 divorces granted in Australia in 2007. Although these numbers have shown a 9.8% decrease over the last 5 years it is highly likely that there has been more undocumented separations due to the choice of many to not get married, as well as those who remain separated for a period of time before a divorce is granted.As you can see, almost half of these divorces involved children under the age of 18. This is a percentage that remains quite constant over the last 5 years.
  • A paper developed by the Australian Psychology Society in 2007 provides an overview of literature around managing the impact of separation and divorce on children. These are just some of the interesting findings about the impacts of divorce and separation on children.They are more often more disobedient, aggressive, non-compliant and lacking in self-regulation, more likely to succumb to school misconduct, have greater difficulty in social and close relationships such as mothers, fathers, authority figures, siblings and peers.They are 2-3 times more likely to associate with antisocial peers and they have twice the probability of child bearing in adolescence.
  • The implications for the education of children of divorced or separated parents is also quite significant. Children whose parents are going through a divorce or separation are associated with lowered school achievement and performance. These children have been found to be twice as likely to leave school before the completion of year 12. They are at an increased risk of antisocial behaviour in the classroom and school. They have a higher incidence of anxiety and depression and may have difficulty concentrating.
  • As you can see divorce and separation are relevant issues that children in our schools may be facing or have friends and peers facing all the time, with heavy implications for not only the mental wellbeing of the child but the child as a learner in a classroom. So what can we do as learning managers to promote resilience in these children during this time?We have created a resource package ‘The Safe Box’ for that purpose – This package, although primarily aimed at year 4-5 children within the context of divorce and separation, can be transferred across topics and modified for different year levels with the same outcome – the promotion of resilience and positive attitudes towards mental health.
  • The class emotional journal is the first resource to be introduced in the action plan. It provides an opportunity to introduce the habits of mind that sit in with the topic of divorce and separation. The students think and communicate with clarity and precision when processing and communicating their thoughts. The students listen with understanding and empathy when reading and listening to other student’s thoughts and feelings.   The whole class journal is used as a place for the students to anonymously talk about their feelings in a way which may benefit others. The students can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding about the topic and communicate their feelings in a non-threatening and unstructured way.
  • The perspectives masks are used as a visual tool to help the students to recognise and communicate the points of view that others may have. This requires the students to think and communicate with clarity and precision and to think flexibly when considering the opinions of others. The students extend and refine their knowledge by ‘Analysing the Perspectives’ that other people may have about a family hardship. This may alter the ‘Attitudes and Perceptions’ that they may have about the situation.   Once the concept of analysing perspectives has been introduced this resource may be used in the action plan. The students identify important people who would be affected if their family was to go through a hardship such as divorce or separation. They then consider the perspectives of those people, what they would be thinking about the situation and the reasons behind their own and others opinions.   For the implementation in the action plan the students might create hypothetical statements which represent the perspectives of people involved. This would be followed by role-play in a small group context. Alternatively the students may be given a mock scenario in which they would identify and analyse the perspectives of the characters and the reasons that they may hold those perspectives. The students then role play the scenario using the masks.  The students ‘Think Flexibly’ by identifying the points of view of others. They ‘Think and Communicate’ with clarity and precision by planning and presenting a role play to an audience who listen with understanding and empathy.
  • This box is used as an affirmation tool to identify and appreciate the reasons that people divorce. The students then consider the ‘flip-side’ of these causes. This is symbolic of ‘putting away’ negatives.   Within the action plan the students write down reasons people divorce/separate on one side of a piece of card before ‘putting it away’ in the positive focus box. The students are to Think Flexibly to identify the reasons people divorce and separate, using understanding and empathy. At a later time the students take out the cards and consider them afresh. They turn over the negative side and identify a positive opposite to this negative situation. This is symbolic of bouncing back from a negative situation.  Another way which the positive focus box might be used within an action plan would be as a tool for short-story writing. The students use a completed card to write a story about how a character changed a negative situation into a positive one. They would pay close attention to how the character thought, felt as well as what they said, how they reacted, the outcome and conclusions that were reached. In order to complete this activity the students are required to think and communicate with clarity and precision.
  • The book ‘Fred Stays with me’ is used as a starting point for recognising constants, networks and partnerships that exist outside the home. The students consider things that they can change, how they can cope with living in more than one home and the constants that they have in their lives, e.g. the dog, in ‘Fred Stays with me’.   This resource is linked to the topic of belonging (from the Circle of Courage) and is a focus for discussion. The students learn about caring and support that they have or could give to others. The students are required to think and communicate with clarity and precision as they identify constants, ways of coping and approaches to helping others.
  • The dog is used as a means of caring and support for the students. It is someone that the students can talk to who will listen and enjoy their company. Alternatively students who do not like dogs or who may be allergic can have a teddy to talk to and a blanket to cuddle. These resources are for care and support, it is hoped that they will help the students to feel more comfortable about thinking and communicating their feelings.
  • The individual journal is a place where the students can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding about the topic and to communicate their feelings in a non-threatening and unstructured way. This is the only resource that is specifically created for divorce and separation. The activities have been designed to support the class material and as a means for the students to individually organise their thoughts and demonstrate what they know.   Within the action plan the journal is used as a follow up individual focus/reflection time after whole class and group activities. This requires the students to ‘Think and communicate with clarity and precision’.
  • Teacher can facilitate learning and encourage students to communicate their feelings surrounding the topic of divorce and separation in a non-threatening way. Cross curricular. Teaches students how to care and support others who may be going through divorce. Caters for all learners – not only those going through divorce. Students learn how to be resilient in the face of hardships and to care and support others during change.
  • We have linked the resource package to the Circle of Courage resilience framework because that’s what we linked it to in our Action Plan. Although the package could be linked to all 4 parts, our main focus areas for the package are Generosity and Belonging. Within Generosity, or linked with generosity is the Protective Factor of Positive and Pro-social bonds. The intimate and group-oriented activities of the package aim at promoting bonds between peers and the learning manager and learners, as well as encouraging children to keep/improve relationships with both their parents where possible.Within Belonging, the Protective Factors of Caring and Support and Clear and Consistent Boundaries are the focus.
  • Talk in here about these in explicit ways – displaying an accurate and in-depth understanding of HOM and how it relate to our resource
  • Maybe here a slide for conclusion that has links to the future and how this topic is timeless (wont be easily outdated) because of the society we live in – the only change that may need to happen is the shift from divorce to separation. Also link in here the bit about stakeholders. Divorce/ separation is a very relevant topic in today’s society. Our resource package is designed to aid teachers in the delivery of a sensitive topic which is often only touched upon lightly or is avoided altogether. With the aid of these resources the teacher can facilitate learning and encourage students to communicate their feelings surrounding the topic in a non-threatening way.   The students consider who might be affected if their family were they to go through an emotional hardship such as divorce. They look at where they can go for help and realise that they will always ‘belong’ somewhere.
  • The Safe Box

    1. 1. The Safe Box <br />Divorce and Separation Management for children<br />By Bethanie Buma, Jane Garlick and Jessica Joyce<br />
    2. 2. Did you know?<br />47 963 divorces were granted in Australia in 2007<br />49.3% of those involved children under the age of 18<br />Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007<br />
    3. 3. Impacts of Divorce on Children<br />More disobedient, aggressive, non-compliant and lacking in self-regulation<br />School misconduct<br />Difficulty relating to others<br />2 to 3 times more likely to associate with antisocial peers<br />Twice the probability of child bearing in adolescence<br />(O’Hanlon, Patterson & Parham, 2007)<br />
    4. 4. Educational Implications<br />Associated with lowered school achievement and performance<br />Twice as likely to drop out of school<br />Increased risk of antisocial behaviour<br />Anxiety<br />Depression<br />Difficulty concentrating<br />(O’Hanlon, Patterson & Parham, 2007)<br />
    5. 5. What Can We Do????<br />
    6. 6. Our Safe Box<br />Contents <br /><ul><li>Perspective Masks
    7. 7. Positive Focus Box
    8. 8. Class Emotional Journal
    9. 9. Books – ‘Fred Stays with me’ and ‘When Mom and Dad Divorce’
    10. 10. Dog (not in the box)
    11. 11. Teddy bear and blanket (security)
    12. 12. Personal Journal (supports other resources)</li></li></ul><li>Class Emotional Journal<br />
    13. 13. Perspective Masks<br />
    14. 14. Positive Focus Box<br />
    15. 15. Books<br />“Fred Stays with me” (Nancy Coffelt, 2007)<br />“When Mom and Dad divorce” (Emily Menendez-Aponte, 1999)<br />
    16. 16. Dog<br />
    17. 17. Personal Journal<br />
    18. 18. Why Use Our Resource Package?<br />Sensitive but relevant topic<br />Encourage students to communicate their feelings in a non-threatening way<br />Interactive<br />Creative/ light approach <br />Individual Journal supports the focus topic. The rest of the package can be used for other topics within ‘Change Loss and Grief’ <br />Caters for all learners<br />
    19. 19. The Circle of Courage<br />Generosity<br /><ul><li>Positive and pro-social bonds (protective factor) </li></ul>Belonging <br /><ul><li>Caring and support
    20. 20. Clear and consistent boundaries </li></li></ul><li>Our Resource Package and Resilience <br />The students explore…<br /><ul><li>Reasons behind divorce
    21. 21. Implications
    22. 22. Feelings
    23. 23. Belonging
    24. 24. Values
    25. 25. Caring and support
    26. 26. How to be resilient in the face of difficult times </li></li></ul><li>Habits of Mind<br />Listening with Understanding <br />and Empathy <br />Thinking and communicating <br />with clarity and precision<br />Thinking Flexibly<br />
    27. 27. Our Safe Box=Resilience Promotion<br />