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1.4 What children learn

The events and circumstances leading to children coming into care jeopardize their present and future well-being. The complex problems and issues certainly there for them aren’t minor and aren’t something they will quickly grow out of or just get over. They are serious problems requiring your thoughtful attention.

Children are continuously learning. What they learn and how well they learn it are the important questions. In healthy, stable families, children discover an exciting world where they can experiment with and master the ideas and skills they need to grow and develop in productive and positive ways. Their parents aren’t always right, don’t always set the best example, and sometimes make mistakes. Still, everyone in the family shares in the give-and-take and healthy learning goes on for everyone.

In homes where children are severely maltreated, children still learn but what they learn and what they do with what they learn are quite different matters.

From your point of view:

Write your thoughts after each question.

•           What do children learn when they are continuously exposed to family and neighborhood violence, drug abuse, severe poverty, criminal activity, and serious parental and family dysfunction?

•           What do children learn when their parents don’t keep them safe and don’t tend to their needs and well-being?

•           What do children learn when they live in filthy, unsafe homes?

•           What do children learn when they are physically, emotionally, and sexually violated by people in their homes?

•           What do children learn when they are abruptly removed from their homes, from their families, from their neighborhoods, from their schools, and from their personal cultures?

•           What do children learn when a family who said they cared about them has them removed because they are inconvenient or disruptive?

•           What do children learn when they are moved from place to place and have little to no say about it?

•           What do maltreated children do with all of the learning experiences they have had? What ideas, behavior, and life-skills do they master?

•           How would you expect all of that learning to come out in terms of the child’s behavior, emotional and social adjustment, family relationships, school performance, and general attitude?

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