chapter  1
16 Pages

Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties: Causes, Definition and Assessment

As stated in the preface to this volume, pupils with emotional and behavioural problems continue to pose a challenge for teachers, support services, the community and for their parents. There is evidence that the number of pupils being referred to educational psychologists is increasing, McCall and Farrell (1993) and that more are being excluded from schools, Upton (1992). Scarcely a week goes by without sections of the media reporting on incidents of disruption in schools and these reports are usually accompanied by suggestions about various ways of improving the situation. These range from exhortations to bring back corporal punishment, to ban children from obtaining copies of so called video nasties, to reduce the amount of violence shown on television, to sack incompetent teachers, to improve the quality of training and many others. Interest in this area is also evidenced by the number of training packages for teachers which are designed to improve their skills in managing disruptive children. Many of these are based on principles of behavioural psychology, for example BATPACK (Wheldall and Merrett, 1989a and 1989b); Assertive Discipline (Canter and Canter, 1992). Others emphasize a whole school approach, for example, Preventative Approaches to Disruption, (Chisholm et al., 1985), Building a Better Behaved School, (Galvin et al., 1990). Finally the government has issued six circulars on pupils with problems which offer guidance to schools and LEAs on the education of children with EBD (DFE, 1994).