Understanding ‘science of conflict’ could help all teenagers and families

The new online resources could be used to help all young people, according to experts (Peter Jordan/PA)

Online tools aimed at preventing youth homelessness could be used to help teens and their parents communicate better.

The Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR) – set up by Edinburgh-based charity the Cyrenians – has developed a series of specialist psycho-educational resources to better explain the “science of conflict”.

The early intervention strategies were initially used to help prevent troubled youngsters from becoming homeless and to assist families going through conflict.

But they have now been made available online after experts assessed they could help families and young people talk more easily about their feelings and emotions, helping improve mental wellbeing as a result.

The Emotional Homunculus and The Brain’s Amazing Drugs Cabinet package of resources was produced with the help of a child development and mental health expert, explaining complex neuroscience in a more easily understood format.

Children’s minister Maree Todd hailed the project as having “delivered real value to young people and their families”.

Speaking as the resources were made available via on online hub, she added: “The Scottish Government recognises the importance of creating and maintaining healthy relationships within families and communities, and I commend the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution for delivering high-quality innovative resources and making them freely accessible to everyone.”

SCCR network development manager Diane Marr said: “We wanted to help people better understand their inner self and how, combined with the chemicals in our brain, this shapes how we learn and react with the world around us.

“Our core work at the SCCR centres on reducing the impact of conflict, which can lead to problems with mental health, relationship breakdown and youth homelessness.

“But what’s become clear over the past nine months is how these resources have a universal, practical use across many professions and generations.

“We have reports of them being used to tackle not just social concerns around family conflict and youth homelessness, but also support programmes involving mental and physical health and wellbeing, exploring toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences and helping kinship carers and foster parents.”

James Docherty, development officer for the Violence Reduction Unit, said: “The SCCR resources should be made available to every child in Scotland so we can start talking about what affects our health and wellbeing, and help children, families, social workers and parents to understand that we’re just trying our best with what we know at the time.”

Gordon McKinlay, head of schools at Renfrewshire Council, added: “Making these resources available for every child in Scotland would provide schools with an excellent opportunity for teachers’ professional learning through an evidence-based approach to the science behind conflict, and also give young people tools to make informed decisions to improve their own mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing.

“Children come to school with all sorts of emotions, and from all sorts of circumstances. Whether teachers are aware of children with recognised adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or trying to get it right for every child, an understanding of conflict ensures our children are all able to learn.

“Teachers are keen to use evidence-based approaches, like these from the SCCR, to better understand how learning is accessible to all children.”