Professor Rebecca Wallace, from the School of Health Sciences, has published a report with her collaborator Dr Ros Scott (University of Dundee) entitled ‘School pupils and their understanding of significant change and losses in life.’ The project was conducted in a central Scotland school and funded by Pallium Canada.
This study, involving pupils, parents and staff, sought to understand young people’s perceptions of loss, death and dying. This collaborative qualitative pilot study was undertaken in conjunction with colleagues in Canada and was designed to gain knowledge of how children of different ages understand loss, death and dying; the support they access and their awareness of what is available to them. The pupils in Canada were of primary school age; whereas the study’s Scottish component involved one secondary school with participants aged between 12-18 years.
Professor Wallace and Dr Scott conclude that ‘Coping skills as reported by this particular group of pupils appear to be strong. They find support from families, friends, interests and social groups. It is interesting to note that the internet, social media and written information seems to be of less significance. Parents and teachers have an important role to play in providing support. However, there is a significant disconnect between the resources that young people identified as helping them and those that parents and teachers would use or recommend. This would suggest the need to ask, rather than assume, what it is young people need. The approach to bereavement support should rather be participatory and involve the young people themselves. Peer support emerges as important to young people and this could be built upon as key resource.’
The authors recommend that further study is necessary before any conclusions may be postulated as to the place of loss, grief and death in the school curriculum. The report is available to read and download from the University’s Institutional Repository OpenAIR.