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How does an Child\'s Environment Effect their Development

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examining how divorce/ separation, witnessing domestic abuse, abuse, and witnessing repeated community violence and show how the interaction between family, community, and society can stimulate and …

examining how divorce/ separation, witnessing domestic abuse, abuse, and witnessing repeated community violence and show how the interaction between family, community, and society can stimulate and influence a child’s development; looking at the externalizing and internalizing behaviors,within the child’s psychological, emotional, behavioral, cognitive processes, school competence and performance, and relationships with others.

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  • 1. How Does A Childs Environment Effect Their Development<br />Elizabeth Wolf<br /> The Toby Center<br />Abstract<br />How can a parent tell if he or she is raising their child correctly? Is there a correct manor to raise a child? Some would say yes and others would say no. But there are some universality in parenting and family functioning if you do the research to see what brings out the best outcome for the wellbeing for the child. Psychologists today almost universally agree that child-centered disciple is the best route to take while raising your child. To insure the child will understand what they did incorrectly and try to fix it the next time; this type of disciple incorporates time-outs and taking things that the child plays with away for a period of time. But child wellbeing isn’t all about discipline; it has a lot to do with the interaction between the factors of family, community environment and the societal landscape in which the child lives in. For example if the family unit isn’t functioning it could lead to one of the parents developing depression and stress, which causes psychological problems in the child. <br /> In this paper we are going to examine how divorce/ separation, witnessing domestic abuse, abuse, and witnessing repeated community violence and show how the interaction between family, community, and society can stimulate and influence a child’s development. Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory of child’s development really gives you an idea of how each context of relationships form in that environment. How the interaction among the dynamics of the mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem effect the child’s development. Within the mesosystem there is a bi-directional influence where child may affect parent or parent may effect child’s beliefs and behavior. Within this context are the relationships and interactions that are closet to the child such as; family, friends, school, their neighborhood, and childcare. The exosystem does not have a direct interaction with the child but does impact the mesosystem in a way; this is society as a whole. An example of how this could impact the mesosystem is through the parents work schedule, which could be positive or negative to the child. The macrosystem influences all the other layers in some fashion and involves cultural values, customs, and laws. Looking at the externalizing and internalizing behaviors across the domains; divorce/ separation, abuse, witnessing domestic violence, and witnessing repeated community violence. In these areas we will look at the child’s psychological, emotional, behavioral, cognitive processes, school competence and performance, and relationships with others. <br /> “Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties” (Divorce). When a divorce is occurring parent’s dependability to their child’s psychological and emotional growth is not there. Most of the time parents do not think of the child’s view of the divorce, mothers and children most of the time will have very different perceptions of what is going on inside of the home before the time of divorce/ and or separation. Behaviors the child could display vary contingent on gender, timing of divorce, wellbeing/ development of the child, what the family structure is like, and marital status. There is a great deal of research on the effects of divorce on children one of which states that there is a very strong correlation to divorced parents conflict and wellbeing of the child. In a majority of single parent homes the children live with their mothers therefore the child’s psychological wellbeing is dependent on the mother’s emotional state. A consideredable number of divorced mothers are stressed because of lower income due to the divorce, which usually leads to depression in these mothers and in turn affects the child and leads to psychological and emotional problems. A child’s family members, especially their parents, are the most influential people in their lives when they are children. There are gender differences in how the child expresses their problem behavior; boys for instance externalize and have cognitive ability problems, while girls internalize. During a divorce there are three major impacts to a child’s wellbeing; a.) Stressors in the home b.) Depression that family members are experiencing c.) HOME (the environment in the household). When there is low income, high marital depression, anxiety, and diminished parenting there is no psychological wellbeing for the child. <br />When looking at a child’s development and witnessing domestic violence, it has a devastating negative effects. It can occur on theses areas of functioning; cognitive, emotional, and behavioral. At school and home children showed evidence of disobedience, inadequate social competence and school performance, and complications in relationships. It has been reported that after witnessing domestic violence children appeared and presented these behaviors and emotions; fearful, anxious, depressed, behavioral problems, antisocial behavior, aggressive, and react by displaying trauma symptoms. “Children witnessing domestic violence do indeed have a greater likelihood than other children of developing a conduct disorder but not emotional disorder” (Meltzer, 500). These negative consequences are determined on the age of when they witnessed the domestic violence and if the contact with the violence was constant. A array of factors make certain people more vulnerable to witnessing domestic violence than others; a.) external factors- family poverty and stress when has a detrimental affect on the development of the child b.) being in a older age group, being a mixed ethnicity, having physical disorder, having several children in the family, living in a poor neighborhood, mothers emotional state, and family dysfunction. After witnessing domestic violence it places children at a high statistical odds of internalizing (anxiety and depression etc.) and externalizing (fighting and bullying etc.…) their behaviors. Both genders are negatively affected by witnessing domestic violence but display it differently. Boys are more likely to externalize and girls are more likely to internalize. <br />Children who are subjected to violence, whether it is domestic or community, are at risk to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The violence and victimization they experience connects to the development of PTSD, anger, depression, anxiety, and dissociation. The severity of PTSD symptoms varies on extent of violent experiences, “specific symptoms accumulate in response to additional exposure” (Mabanglo, 4). Gender intervenes symptomatology, girls exhibited emotions and symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, and PTSD while boys repressed and felt victimized and had no hope. Children witnessing community violence continually, on an ongoing basis, are developing PTSD witnessing domestic violence is more damaging for a child especially if they witness a parent die, which is a life changing event for that child. <br />According to The Protection of Person and Cares and Act the definition of abuse is, "abuse" means mistreatment, whether physical, sexual, mental, emotional, financial or a combination of any of them, that is reasonably likely to cause death or that causes or is reasonably likely to cause serious physical or psychological harm to a person, or significant loss to the person's property” (Abuse). One of the greatest things about being a child is the sense of curiosity and wonder you have, once abuse happens that gift giving to a child is taken away and the child will never reach there full potential, through fear of doing anything new because they might get abused again because the abuser wants to gain control. “Attachment is in essence the right brain regulation of biological synchronicity, neurological impact of stress and trauma in childhood” (Bacon, 380). When trauma occurs it determines what attachment type the child will have. According to the attachment theory a child who is experiencing abuse is going to have insecure anxious attachment. If there are problems with the attachment relationships between mother and child, insecure anxious attachment is the problem attachment; this is putting the child at danger for abuse. Because of the poor attachment between the mother and child the abuse would go un-noticed, the child might not want to disclose it. , because there is probably distance between mother and child, and unavailability of parent. After abuse happens the child goes into survival mode, the child develops internal and external resilience; this helps protect them through dissociation. Dissociation is solution to the problematic attachment to an abuser or non-protective parent/ caregiver. Dissociating is a helpful tool for children but it will not serve them later in life; it could lead to disorganized attachment in children or dissociative identity disorder. Abuse has the most negative effects on a child’s development including but not an exhausted list; drop in IQ, poor academic performance, learning disabilities, depression, drug and alcohol use and abuse, suicide, violence, delinquency, crime, drop in self-esteem, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, helplessness, instability in life, stress, pressure, feeling like a failure, PTSD, sexual promiscuity, easily startled, emotionally numb, maladaptive behaviors that can become pathological problems, anti-social behaviors, self-destructive, self-injurious, aggressive, bad dreams, bed wetting, panic attacks, shyness, and social withdrawal. Children that are abused lose the notion of what a relationship is and develop a misrepresented one that leads to difficult relationships in life.<br />Among some families the victim-perpetrator cycle exists. The abusive cycle depicts the characteristic sequence among negative and positive behavior that characteristically occurs in dysfunctional relationships and dysfunctional families. It’s a recurring configuration where together the perpetrator and the victim of abuse cause the circumstances, which continue the cycle. There are four phases among the cycle; flashpoint phase where verbal, physical or emotional abuse is perpetrated on the victim. The perpetrator has full power. The emotional energy is high and both are in "fight or flight" response. Retribution phase, “perpetrator stops the offensive behavior and begins to fear the consequences of their actions. The victim typically pulls away emotionally or physically from the perpetrator. The perpetrator often adopts a posture of reaching out” (Out of the FOG). The roles are re-versed in these phases where emotional energy level high for the victim while the perpetrator tries to meet the list of demands, offering affection….Victim and perpetrator are deep in thought and questioning, “about where they are, what they want and what they deserve” (Out of the FOG). Resentment is building on both sides in the reflection phase. The regression phase, both become progressively return to the preset roles in the relationship and forget what happened at flashpoint. <br />When a child’s environment is unstable and doesn’t have any healthy support systems available to them there psychological and emotional development will suffer. The more depressed the mother is the less proficient a parent they will be. If the parents give the child a healthy environment to thrive and grow in their wellbeing and development will flourish. A parent needs to know the child’s needs all the time. These parents need to examine their parenting behaviors; are they protective or vulnerable parents, children want to be attended to and feel protected by their parents. It gives the sense of secure attachment that they long for. The most adjusted children whose parents were going through a divorce had secure and stable relationship with both parents and saw the absent parent frequently.<br /> <br />References<br />Bacon, H., & Richardson, S. (2001). Attachment Theory and Child Abuse:<br />An Overview of the Literature for Practitioners, Child Abuse Review,<br />10(6), 377-397. doi:10.1002/car.718<br />Child abuse and neglect fact sheet. (1992). Children Today, 21(2), 13. Retrieved<br />from EBSCOhost.<br />Clarke-Stewart, K., Vandell, D. L., McCartney, K., Owen, M. T., & Booth, C. (2000).<br />Effects of parental separation and divorce on very young children. Journal of<br />Family Psychology, 14(2), 304-326. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.14.2.304<br />Divorce. (2011, June 23). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce<br />Hingst, A. (1981). Children and Divorce: The Child's View. Journal of Clinical Child <br />Psychology, 10(3), 161. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.<br />Lansford, J. (n.d). Developmental trajectories of externalizing and internalizing <br />behaviors: Factors underlying resilience in physically abused children.<br />Development and Psychopathology, 18(1), Retrieved from EBSCOhost.<br />Mabanglo, M. (n.d). Trauma and the effects of violence exposure and abuse on children<br />A review of the literature. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 72(2), Retrieved <br />from EBSCOhost.<br />Malone, P. S., Lansford, J. E., Castellino, D. R., Berlin, L. J., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & <br />Pettit, G. S. (2004). Divorce and Child Behavior Problems: Applying Latent <br />Change Score Models to Life Event Data. Structural Equation Modeling,<br />11(3), 401-423. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.<br />Meltzer, H., Doos, L., Vostanis, P., Ford, T., & Goodman, R. (2009). The mental health<br />of children who witness domestic violence. Child & Family Social Work,<br />14(4), 491-501. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2009.00633.x<br />Out of the fog. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.outofthefog.net<br />/CommonBehaviors/AbusiveCycle.html <br />P. (2009, August). Definition of Abuse. Retrieved from <br />www.gov.mb.ca/health/protection/docs/abusedefinitions.pdf<br />Stiles, M. (n.d). Witnessing domestic violence: The effect on children. American Family<br />Physician, 66(11), Retrieved from EBSCOhost.<br />