Psychologists Opine On Excessive Punishment For Child With Behavioral Disorders


Child Psychology ExpertThis case involves a child who suffered assault and battery while at school. The child had been notoriously disruptive and aggressive for the past few months but had not been diagnosed with any behavioral disorders. During recess, the child instigated an altercation with another classmate on the playground that became physical with the classmate. In response to the behavior, an untrained staff member allegedly dragged the flailing child by her hair across the pavement causing bruises and scraping to her knees. The child was subsequently assessed by a psychologist and diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder. It was alleged that the child was improperly supervised by the school staff and that the staff member who intervened was excessively punitive during this encounter. An expert in child psychology with specific experience in behavioral disorders was sought to speak to the standard of care and training needed to care for a child with a behavior problem, as well as opine on the psychological sequelae suffered by the child as a result of the actions taken by the supervising staff member during the incident in question.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your background in child psychology.
  • 2. Please describe your work with children who have behavioral disorders.
  • 3. What is your experience in training childcare staff on proper care of children with these disorders?

Expert Witness Response E-127620

I have a Ph.D. in developmental and clinical psychology. I have specialized in training parents in positive behavior modification for several years in my practice in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at a major research university. I have presented multiple workshops on parent management training for youth with ADHD and associated disruptive behavior disorders. I have several years of experience working with parents and teachers to support children with ADHD. Many childcare staff are unfamiliar with ADHD and how to handle youngsters with disruptive behavior disorders and benefit from targeted support around appropriate behavioral management, with an emphasis on positive reinforcement.

Expert Witness Response E-156937

I have extensive experience working with children with ADHD. I was the clinical coordinator for a high-intensity group home that housed and rehabilitated children with very severe ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, conduct disorder, and trauma. I’ve supervised multiple programs and provided training to staff regarding the specific needs of each child in order to most effectively address their needs. As a consultant, I’ve been brought in to train teams prior to them starting contracts meant to improve communities. Most of these teams were working with children with behavioral issues as well as court-ordered programs. I’ve personally assessed hundreds of children, adults, and family units, many of whom have been somewhere on the autism spectrum. I have been a part of, or supervised, several cases very similar to this one, including children abused by family, children abused by other children in school (i.e. bullying), and teachers or school staff who have not provided the proper interventions.

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