A third-grade teacher seeks your professional help with an 8-year-old boy in her class. She tells you that Eddie’s behavior is highly disruptive because he is continually acting out his problems in a hostile or aggressive manner. He punches other children for no apparent reason, tears up others’ work, rarely follows instructions, continually talks at times that are disruptive, and draws attention to himself through negative behavior. He seems to take delight in seeing other children get angry.
The teacher tells you that she is at a loss to know how to deal with Eddie’s behavior. She considered asking that he be removed from her classroom, but she hesitated because she believes that he has many pressing conflicts and is a deeply troubled child. She asks you to see him for a session and give her some guidance in dealing with his behavior.
You see Eddie for an individual session, during which you discover that his father is both verbally and physically abusive. Without provocation his father calls him names and beats him up. One time, Eddie was beaten so badly that he had severe cuts and bruises, and his father threatened him with a “real beating” if he did not agree to say that he had had a bicycle accident. You also discover that Eddie comes from a single-parent family. His father has had custody since his parents divorced when he was in preschool. Eddie tells you that he would feel really lost if he didn’t have his father. He thinks that maybe he has done many wrong things to deserve the treatment he gets.
Working within a behavioral framework, show how you would proceed in this session with Eddie so that you might be in a better position to make recommendations to his teacher and might offer him some direct help yourself.
- How do you expect that you would handle the issue of Eddie’s beatings by his father? How would you deal with Eddie on this matter? Might you approach his father? If so, what would you say, and what would you hope to accomplish? Might you consult the authorities? What are your legal obligations in this case?