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"Approximately 240,000 children every year find themselves experiencing the emotional and practical difficulties arising from their parents separating or divorcing" (NACCC 2001).

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Introduction

"Approximately 240,000 children every year find themselves experiencing the emotional and practical difficulties arising from their parents separating or divorcing." (NACCC 2001). In most cases parents can be responsible, put their own feelings aside and do what is best by their children by mutually agreeing on contact without the use of solicitors and the courts etc. Unfortunately however there are many cases where this does not occur. Usually this happens through lack of trust and communication, which develops because of many different reasons e.g. one partner having an affair. As a result of this many children lose contact with close attachment figures and many members of their extended family. If children are denied contact with their non-residential parent they may start to feel rejected or abandoned, blame themselves for what has happened, feel increasingly insecure and may even become withdrawn and in some cases depressed. Research by the NACCC has indicated that children who experience this situation may start to take unnecessary risks or even harm themselves through feelings such as 'I just don't care anymore'. In many cases children have become rebellious and in some cases to the extent of anti-social behaviour within their communities and in school or wherever they can receive the most attention. Most disturbingly however many researchers state that the denial of contact can lead to a child experiencing difficulties in establishing happy and lasting relationships in adulthood and thus the cycle continues. ...read more.

Middle

Between 10 and 15 families attend and there are usually 8 volunteers plus the Coordinator present. Throughout the year the Centre continued to open on Wednesdays from 2.30 to 4.30 pm. From the middle of June 2003, this has been extended to 3.00 - 7.00 pm to enable older children to attend after school and also to make midweek contact available to parents who are working. Four volunteers plus the Coordinator are present on Wednesdays. Throughout the first few visits families arrive where adults are apprehensive, often hurt and angry, and children are upset and confused. Over a period of time, in most cases, tensions lessen between parents and trust and confidence begin to build again to the extent that families can move on and make their own arrangements in the community. Ideally, the Child Contact Centre is a stepping stone which provides a neutral, relaxed setting for children to build or rebuild relationships with a parent or other relative with great practical and emotional support. It is not a "normal" situation or a long-term solution. "Attachment theory supplies us with an understanding of the abiding need for secure attachments, the profound significance of separation and loss and the lifelong importance of our relationship with others." (Fox, I. Website 1). Originally attachment theory has been based upon and is greatly influenced by psychoanalytic theorists e.g. Freud. Attachment theorists especially Bowlby (1969) ...read more.

Conclusion

This was primarily proposed by John Bowlby in 1951 who believed that if a child was deprived of the opportunity to form an attachment during the early years of life then social, emotional and/or intellectual problems would develop later in life. Bowlby also suggested that it could lead to conditions such as depression, bed-wetting and even dwarfism. (Birch, A. 1997). Rutter, M (1972, 1981) supported Bowlby's position that disruption of early child care could have adverse effects on psychological development. However he disagreed and contested Bowlby's concept of maternal deprivation. He stressed the effects of maternal deprivation were more likely to be due to the lack of something (privation) rather than any kind of loss (deprivation). Rutter M. believed that the crucial factor in determining the adverse effects of psychological development was what happened before and after the separation. His more plausible explanation attributed children's problems to family discord, loneliness, and changes in discipline and the changed circumstance of the residential parent e.g. the lower income or having to go out to work. Despite the debate on the actual causes, either the separation itself or other factors surrounding it all researchers agree that children are seriously affected in their psychological development and more often than not will continue into adulthood with serious problems. This could and does lead to a vicious cycle that is affecting many families. The concepts of 'attachment', 'loss', 'separation' and 'change' are very important for understanding lifelong human development and is a crucial component for social work. ...read more.

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