Deprivation & Adversity on Child’s Emotions
This paper is about the effect of deprivation and adversity on a child’s emotional development. A child’s early years can prove to be a determinant of whether he or she will be successful or not. Deprivation of any kind can lead to a child’s failure in life. Economic deprivation leads to other types of deprivation, like social and emotional. We take a look at the steps to be taken so that a child is not deprived of emotional needs and hence does not face a life of adversity.
Effect of Deprivation & Adversity on A Child’s Emotional Development
The early years serve as a stepping stone for a child’s success in life. A child’s emotional development is solely dependent on a good foundation in life. If the foundation is not good, then its happiness and well being suffers. There are different types of deprivation a child may experience in life, each has its own impact on the child’s development.
Deprivation can be of many types, but it’s mainly the economic deprivation that takes its toll.
According to UNICEF (2005), “Children living in poverty experience deprivation of the material, spiritual, and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive, leaving them unable to enjoy their rights, achieve their full potential or participate as full and equal members of society.”
Children of economically deprived parents are the worst sufferers, starting from basic facilities, they are deprived of everything, like nutritious food, adequate clothing, good education, good behavior, spiritual understanding, and the list goes on.
Likewise, deprivation of education also leads to depression, substance abuse, violence, antisocial behavior, etc.
According to UNDP (2004), “Child poverty is the poverty experienced during childhood by children and young people. It differs from adult poverty in that it has different causes and effects, and the impact of poverty during childhood has permanent effects on children”.
Result of Deprivation & Adversity in Childhood
In developing countries, there has been a direct impact of economic problems leading to the deprivation of basic facilities. When it comes to childhood deprivation, even our home country Australia is not far behind.
Stanley, F., Prior, M. and Richardson, S. (2005) study found the following:
There has been an increase in diseases, cerebral palsy, obesity, asthma, study or intellectual problems, eating problems, emotional problems, etc. There is an increase in drug abuse, juvenile crimes, even among girls; crimes that were previously classified as male-dominated are being committed by females. Teachers are finding it difficult at school; students are showing more behavioral problems than in the past, thus affecting the academic performance of the school.
Role of Parents in Moulding a Child’s Personality
So it comes down to the role of parents and how they mold their children to be emotionally strong and successful in life.
Shonkoff and Phillips (2000) study found the following:
Parenting style plays an important part in shaping developmental health outcomes. Sensitive and responsive parenting is fundamental to the establishment of a strong attachment relationship between children and their caregivers. The role of parenting and parent-child relationships is being increasingly recognized. Parenting is directly related to child maltreatment. Coercive parenting is associated with disturbances in the development of self regulation, increased risk of conduct disorder and later substance abuse. Authoritative, warm, consistent, communicative parent-child interaction and watchful monitoring provides the scaffolding to enable children to self-regulate their behaviour and feelings in a growing number of arenas.
Four Basic Steps towards Successful Upbringing of Children
Presence of proper physical living conditions: Everyone must have access to basic living conditions like safe-housing, food, sanitary living conditions including drainage, disposal of waste, pest control etc. These facilities have improved in Australia compared to the past 100 years, but still exist among the Aboriginals.
According to Zubrick et al (2004): “While much or all of these exist for the majority of Australian children, I mention it because within certain groups such as our
Aboriginal families and others, the physical environment and basic necessities of living are as bad as 100 years ago, with unacceptable levels of preventable illness”.
Parents must be able to provide financial support: The parent must provide adequate financial support, so that the child can have a good education, recreation facilities, clothing, access to transport etc. If children are deprived of these basic facilities, it can lead to future problems like anti-social behaviour, violence, juvenile crime etc.
According to Duncan & BrocksGunn (1997), “Income inequality in any population is related to a range of health, educational, occupational and criminal outcomes”.
Parents must be able to provide emotional & psychological support: All the facilities and money in the world cannot guarantee that your child will be successful in life; for that, they must have well-enough parents. The parents must be physically fit to provide these emotional needs to their children. They must be experienced enough in life and provide practical knowledge and training to their kids, so that they can get ahead in life; above all else – they must have parenting skills. Even if the parents are well informed and ‘mean well’, their advice cannot yield the intended results, if they don’t have the requisite communication skills.
According to Hertzman & Power (2003), “Children who have good early childhood experiences before age six, in stimulating, nurturing environments, have better outcomes throughout their lives, and the earlier they have these experiences, the better. They have better school grades, better self esteem, fewer social problems, and fewer health problems and less likely to be teen parents, use drugs or be involved in crime”.
We can infer from the above, that children need to have happy childhood experiences before they reach the age of six. They must be nurtured with the best care, upbringing, and emotional support to perform well at school as well as life in general. This is not always possible in the case of the economically deprived sections of Australian society.
Poor parenting skills among Australians, especially in the case of Aboriginals, due to lack of education, can have disastrous consequences. They suffer from low self-esteem, marginalization from mainstream society because of economic reasons, and can develop hostile behavior patterns and even display anti-social behavior in the future.
Support from society: Apart from being well off, having supportive parents etc, the most important aspect is the society we live in. Society includes working conditions of parents, its effect on their health and well being, the number of working hours etc. If both the parents are working, society must be safe enough for the children to stay in the first place. Violence and gender discrimination must not be prevalent in society, or it will take its toll on the child’s psychological development. The community or tribe as a whole must be respected and not marginalized from mainstream society on racial or religious grounds. If it happens, then howsoever a child is educated and well behaved, he will develop hostility towards mainstream society as he grows.
According to Zubrick et al (2004), “it takes a village to raise a (healthy) child”. By social capital, we mean the integrity of social structures that engender community safety, trust, reciprocity, and inclusion.
Cultural traditions, practices and networks also comprise part of social capital. It operates at the community, regional and national level.
According to Lomas (1998), “the way we organize our society, the extent to which we encourage interaction among the citizenry and the degree to which we trust and associate with each other in caring communities is probably the most important determinant of our health”
We can infer from the above study that deprivation and the resulting adversity can have disastrous consequences on the child’s present as well as future. If proper care is not taken, the child can display anti-social behaviour and be a threat to society. So care must be taken at the grass-root-level.
Proper living conditions, parental income, emotional support and a healthy society – all the four contribute towards building an emotionally secure and successful child. There is a lot more to be done in this regard, it will take time and effort – but nothing is impossible.
Duncan, GJ & Brocks-Gunn, J (Eds), The consequences of growing up poor. Russell- Sage Foundation, New York, 1997
Hertzman, C & Power, C, Health and human development: Understandings from life-course research. Developmental Neuropsychology, vol. 24, nos. 2 & 3, (2003), pp. 719–744.
Lomas, J, Social capital and health implications for public health and epidemiology. Social Science & Medicine, vol. 47, no. 9, pp. 1181–1188
Shonkoff, J.P. & Phillips, D.A. (Eds) (2000), From Neurons to Neighbourhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
Shonkoff, J.P. & Meisels, S.J. (2000), Handbook of Early Intervention (2nd edn), Cambridge University Press, New York.
Stanley, F., Prior, M. and Richardson, S. (2005). Children of the Lucky
Country? South Yarra, Victoria: Macmillan Australia
UNICEF (2005): Childhood under Threat: State of the World’s Children 2005. UNICEF NY. http://www.unicef.org/sowc05/
UNDP (2004). Dollar a day, how much does it say? In Focus – International Poverty Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG), Brasilia. http://www.ipc-undp.org/pub.do#inf
Zubrick SR, Lawrence DM, Silburn SR, Blair E, Milroy H, Wilkes T, Eades S, D’Antoine H, Read A, Ishiguchi P & Doyle S, The Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey: The Health of Aboriginal (2004)
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