Monday, November 20, 2006

Don't let the door hit you on your way out

Rather than pathologizing the behavior of foster youth, it's important to consider the situation from their perspective:

A study of 20 male foster youth, between the ages of 8-17 years old, in a Texas residential facility, the Gardenville Residential Treatment Center, revealed that attachment issues had contributed to their conduct disorders.

Whenever a placement disruption occured, and a young man was forced to relocate, he would act out in various ways. This might take the form of theft, lying, violence, sexually acting out or substance abuse.

It was determined that each young man was responding to rejection by actively trying to alienate other people, in order to sever current relationships. These young men had internalized a view that the world was hostile, so their response to repetitive abandonment was to act out.

You don't want me? Fine - I don't want you, either!

The researchers came to two conclusions:
1.) Caseworkers shouldn't be surprised by antisocial behavior from youth diagnosed with conduct disorders when facing transitions.

2.) Moving children from placement to placement might be more damaging than allowing them to grow up in a stable institution.

Penzerro, R. M. & L. Lein (1995). Burning their bridges: Disordered attachment and foster care discharge. Child Welfare, Vol. 74, Iss. 2, pp. 351-366.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate. The foster system is full of double standards. You are treated as an inanimate object and tossed about, then expected to react with respect and thankfulness.

12:07 PM  

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