Children Who Live with Courage and Dignity
*Shortlisted for the Young Minds Book Prize 2006*
Shattered Lives bears witness to the lives of children who have experienced abuse and neglect, and highlights the effects of early traumatic episodes. Chapters take the form of letters to a child capturing their life experiences, hugely impacted by sexual abuse, parental substance misuse and loss, leading to feelings of shame, rejection and worthlessness. Batmanghelidjh offers understanding for those baffled by these hard-to-reach children and warns against stigmatizing them for their problem behaviour. In her critique of existing structures, she exposes the plight of children who are overlooked by the authorities and denounces those who value bureaucracy over the welfare of the individual child. Society's failure to acknowledge the truth of their experiences and act to change the environment in which such mistreatment can flourish is, she strongly argues, leading to the death of childhood. The book is a clarion call for change.
This is a book which made me weep. It is in the very best Jessica Kingsley tradition of books which take a radical, innovative or immensely practical approach to matters, and most often all three. This particular book provokes a leap of the imagination to show what can be possible in work with disturbed children - given an inspired therapist, a charismatic individual prepared to mortgage her home in order to keep the work going, and a team of willing staff and volunteer mentors.
The book mainly takes the form of a series of letters from Camila Batmanghelidjh to children who had been subject to abuse and neglect in their lives. A letter to 'Chardonnay' touches the pain of a child who was sexually abused by her father and other men; a letter to 'Daisy' acknowledges the extremes of abuse and impoverishment at the hands of her mother and then neglect from social services; a letter to'Mr Mason' depicts the vulnerability of a boy subject to the vacillations of a drug-addicted mother and a cruel stepfather and the growing anger and violence within in response to experience which showed that power is often perverse and destructive, and that a brutalised life creates a brutal being. There are other letters, too, which signify an apology to each of the children within, and which so very clearly demonstrate the kind of extraordinary stamina which is needed to reach and sustain those young people who are so desperate, dangerous, delinquent and destroyed... It is an important and moving book for all who work with, study, have responsibillity for, or simply care about, children.
– The Howard Journal
The book is highly accessible as it has been written for the general reader, however, it is also thought-provoking for educational psychologists... I would recommend this book particularly for those working with highly vulnerable children.
Shattered life not only made me think, it moved me to tears, it inspired me, it made me angry. Whatever you feel when reading this book, I guarantee you won't feel neutral. It's straight talking with the fighting gloves off! This book is written because of fundamental flaws in our society: the way we treat our children and young people, and the way services are structured. It points its finger directly at each and every one of us, as parents, as workers, as society as a whole and it demands that things should change. Without a doubt, Camilla Batmanghelidjh (founder of the Place to Be and Kids Company) is a passionate and inspiring woman who has dedicated her life to working with vulnerable and emotionally damaged young people. Using her experience and psychotherapy training she provides the reader with an introduction to therapeutic thinking, written in a way which is easy to read and digest. She explores the impact of shattered lives and provides insight into the consequences of such, explaining how working with such despair may impact on workers and their subsequent relationship with the young person.
– Youth & Policy
Camila Batmanghelidjh is well known for her work with charities ' The prince 2 be' and 'Kids Company' She is a powerful and persuasive publis speaker and speaks eloquently about the way society treats some of our most damaged young people. The book is a powerful and emotional testament that should be read by every person working with young people, and every parent.
– Social Policy and Social Work Subject Centre
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