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Case Study Assignment for Bartlett

Case Study – Assessment 2 Option – Bartlett Family

Meet the Bartlett Family:

  • Mum Kate – aged 39;
  • Dad Tony  – aged 40;
  • 3 children:
    • James  – aged 15;
    • Michael – aged 12;
    • Emily – aged 8

Initial background:

  • Live in Kedron. Emily goes to Kedron Primary, Michael and James go to Kedron State High
  • Kate and Tony separated two months ago. Tony has moved into a 2 bedroom unit in Kedron.  Kate remains living in the family home.
  • Kate has been unwilling for Tony to spend time with the children. She will not let them stay at his house. The child, notably James misses his Dad and doesn’t understand why he can’t stay with him. Kate does let Tony spend time with the kids at the family home on weekends and some evenings, but only if she is there.
  • James is in grade 10 and is doing alright at school; he gets average marks and has generally been regarded as a positive influence in the school. He is on the school basketball team and has a relatively solid group of friends.
  • Michael is in grade 8, he struggles at school, he has been labeled a behavior problem, and both Kate and Tony have been called to the school many times.
  • Emily is in grade 4; she enjoys school and is doing well. Recently the teachers have noticed she is somewhat withdrawn, not participating in class and often sitting alone at break time.
  • Tony is a self-employed builder who has some sub-contractors and has recently taken on an apprentice.
  • Kate is a draftsperson, who works from her home office. Kate and Tony have some joint projects.

Using the multidimensional lens:

  • Identify adversities/coping issues present
  • Are there any inner or outer world dimensions that may contribute to adversity/coping? Can you map these?
  • Are there risk and protective factors, and wellbeing issues that may be present?
  • Reflect on your analysis, is there sufficient information to make a judgment, are your own experiences of values coming into play?
  • Note: More will be revealed next week about the Bartlett family.

Note: More will be revealed next week about the Bartlett family.

More Background

Bartlett – Background Information

Kate (Katarina) is from an Italian family; she has a younger sister, no brothers. Her parents are Catholics and regularly attend church. Kate’s Dad is retired, he was a Butcher who ran a successful business in Chermside.   Kate’s sister Tessa is a Legal Secretary and studying Law part-time, she has a partner and no children, they live in Carina. Tessa and Kate are close and talk regularly on the phone. The kids love their Nonno and Nonna, and they visit each other regularly.

Tony is an only child. He was born in Sydney, his father was in the Army, and they moved regularly. In years 8 -10 of school Tony was sent to a Christian Brothers boarding school in Sydney as his father was posted overseas and his mother felt unable to care for him alone. On his return, his father left the Army, moved the family to Brisbane and became a builder. At the end of year 11, Tony went to school after struggling all year and joined him in his business until his father died 14 years ago. Tony took over the business and had recently expanded it.   Tony’s mother now lives in Hervey Bay, they talk on the phone, but they don’t catch up often.

Kate and Tony met at a party when Kate was 19. Kate was studying to be a draftsperson and working part-time for an Architect. They saw each other on and off for a couple of years.   Tony never wanted a serious relationship but was fun to be with. After not seeing every one other for a year they ran into each other again. Tony had changed, was much more serious, Kate later found out his Dad was sick by then. Kate and Tony married a year later. The next year James was born, the year after that Tony’s Dad died.

Kate and Tony settled into married life, they had Michael and then Emily. Kate had given up work when she had James but before Michael was born had established her own drafting business at home with her clients and some joint projects with Tony.

James has always been an easy child; he loves his Dad and often would go on site with him as a young child. James played soccer and then basketball. He loves his sport and school for him is mostly an opportunity to play sport, but he does okay at school. James at 15 isn’t sure what he wants to do, something with the sport. Kate and Tony are trying to encourage him to think about studying an Exercise and Movement course at uni.

Michael was more difficult than James, he never settled well as a baby and as he got older would often create arguments with friends, and family. Teachers suggested he be tested for ADHD, but Kate and Tony were reluctant to do that. They have been to parenting courses and feel like they have been getting somewhere with him before the separation. Since the divorce, Michael has been more difficult, but Kate is hopeful he will settle as he gets more used to the new arrangements.

Emily is the daughter they both wanted. She is Tony’s princess and Kate’s little girl. She is quiet and insightful – she has a knack for picking up on people’s emotions. She enjoys school and has a wide group of friends. Kate thinks Emily understands least of all about the separation, she has become quieter but will talk about it with Kate.

The three kids get on fairly well, the ‘usual’ sibling issues. James and Emily are very close, Michael less close with both. But they do all support each other in public despite any arguments at home. James looks out for Michael at school, but sometimes Michael’s behavior at school is too much for James. Since the separation, the three kids have formed a stronger bond.

Context: 

A letter was placed in Kate’s mailbox just over two months ago.  It was anonymous, but the person claimed to have gone to the same boarding school in Sydney as Tony.  The person claimed that Tony was part of a ring of boarding housemasters and older students who tormented and assaulted younger boys in the boarding house.  The letter writer claimed that he was one of those younger boys and that he had recognized Tony walking with his kids near home. He said he followed him home and that’s how he knew where to send the letter to warn Kate about who she was married to.

Kate confronted Tony about it. He said it was true, but there was more to the story. Kate didn’t want to hear and immediately told him to leave and that she didn’t want him near her kids.

Tony’s story:

Tony’s experience at the boarding school was traumatic. There was a culture of violence and abuse at the school that was ignored and covered up.  Tony when he first arrived was targeted by a group of older boys; he was bullied and physically assaulted.  He didn’t cop it as bad as some thought.  He tried to talk to his Mum about it but she told him to stop being a wimp and that his Dad raised him to be a man.   Tony slowly realized that the way to make it stop was to become one of the groups of bullies.  Tony witnessed and at times participated in ongoing emotional and physical abuse of students. He was aware of acts of sexual violence but was neither a victim or perpetrator of these. He was afraid to report anything, those who did were punished brutally, and the reports seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Tony was relieved when his Dad returned, and they moved to Brisbane. He was messed up for a long time but never spoke to anyone about it, especially not his Dad. Gradually he managed to push it back in his mind and get on with building a new life with Kate.  He had recently heard the school mentioned in news reports from the Inquiry into abuse of children in schools and thought, at last, the bastards will cop it.  Now with this letter, his life has come crashing down again. He doesn’t know who the letter came from and he is worried that somehow his kids will find out.   He knows what he did was very wrong and he deserves to be punished.  He loves Kate and his kids and wishes it would all somehow go away so he can go back home.

Bartletts  – Final Part of the Story

Kate and Tony have started getting individual and couples counseling. They have decided to try to heal what has happened and get back together. Tony is relieved. Kate is a bit uncertain but wants to try to work it out.

Things shifted a bit for Kate over a few conversations with her younger sister Tessa.  The circumstances surrounding Kate and Tony’s separation had stirred up memories for Tessa of being badly bullied at school for some months. Kate tried in vain to protect her and eventually after their parents also tried in vain to get the school to respond better moved the girls to another school.

This experience has sat with Kate, and she has been very wary of protecting her kids and alert to possible threats.  At times Tony has responded angrily, almost violently toward Michael when his behavior has been particularly out of control. It doesn’t happen often but when it does Kate has intervened. Once Kate told Tony that if he could not control his temper, she would take the kids and go. They then went to parenting classes, more for Tony to learn some better strategies to respond to Michael.

When Kate got the letter, she was filled with rage and fear that she was living with the bully. All the times Tony had exploded came rushing back to her. She was overcome by a need to protect her kids in the way she could not protect Tessa.  Now, talking with Tessa, Kate realizes she needs to get to a different place with this. She knows that Tony is a good person and a good father.  She loves him and knows the kids miss him. She also knows he needs to work on his anger.

Tony is nervous about counselling; he has never spoken about what happened at school to anyone. But he will do anything to get his life back. He knows he reacts badly sometimes; it seems to come from deep inside when he explodes, he can’t even feel it coming really. He knows he needs to deal with that. He also doesn’t want his kids to think that violence and aggression are a way to solve problems.

James is pleased his parents seem to be working things out. He wants his Dad back living with them. However, he has also been wanting to know why Tony left and why Kate didn’t let them see him. He wants to know now why have things changed. He is confused about what has changed even though he is pleased that they seem to be getting better.

Michael is a bit unsure about what is happening. He is a bit scared of Tony sometimes when he blows up at him. He feels like things have been a bit easier with just Kate there. Michael has been trying harder to be good for Kate.  He hopes Tony can see that he is trying hard and doesn’t get angry at him.

Emily is pleased that things seem to be changing. She is happy that Dad is around more and Mum seems a bit happier. Emily is trying hard to be very good, so Tony might decide to come and live back at home.

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