A lot is being questioned about what influences children’s sensitivity and resilience, with an ever-changing world, it seems environment is too. With children ever-increasingly appearing more vulnerable than ever it would be worth to see what makes the biggest of environmental influences on them. As there are many studies and papers on the subject, this assignment will be collating the evidence and processing it. It will be using evidence from the open university modules, Thomas Boyce has a video on youtube can external resources. With the question posed “how and why children may differ in their sensitivity and resilience to environmental influences”. The assignment will start with discovering what sensitivity and resilience are and do we class as environmental influence. With a look at risks and stresses that can affect children with what outcomes can have one them. The second factor will look into genes and how these can have a detrimental result on the childhood of these.
Sensitivity is defined as the ability to register and process external changes, challenges, or demands. It can affect the way we see our environment, treat it, understand it and the way we might interact with it. People who have higher sensitivity will perceive a stimulus a lot more strongly than someone who is less sensitive. Higher sensitive people would find it more distressing around an dangours or aggressive situation people who are highly sensitive are born that way it’s not something they learned(Lafata 2016). It’s not like other traits or qualities we either have it or don’t people are not merely sensitive or not sensitive there is a range or scale. It is a good thing to be less sensitive to traumatic experiences like family problems, school worries or friendship troubles .Resilience is seen as a good thing it’s an ability to adapt to different stresses and adversity properly. Studies show people who have high resilience are less affected by adverse experience and are steadfast in adversity. There is a lot you can class as the environment to better understand young peoples connections to there different surroundings, Uri Bronfenbrenner (1979) has devised an ecological systems model. He shows there are five levels of a system that influence a child’s development problems at any level they could pose risks to the child in question and have a knock-on effect on other levels. The Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystem model, The mircosystem; The immdeiate enviroment like home or school where they make relationships with or people like friends or borthers or sisters, The mesosystem; The mesosystem; are a child’s influences interconnected to one another an example would be a young persons relationship between a child’s parents and his or her teacher, The exosystem; is the different settings that indirectly have an impact on the young person, like there parents workplace, The macrosystem; is the cultural environment in which the child lives in, The chronosystem; is made up of the environmental events and transitions that occur throughout a child’s life. An example could be anything from the UN charted children rights or a government policy changing for children. Many ways could lead them to have a negative or positive outcome with-in these systems it’s where most their childhood experiences will happen or be affected by it. They are intertwined with social risk factors and differential environmental settings that can have a good affect or a bad affect.
Young people face a lot of different challenges in life this could be from an internal and external source, it’s very like they will experience many in the time in childhood. With a lot of possible risks and stresses in today’s world to try and break them down into simplified categories is a tough task but in Arrubarrena’s study (Arrubarrena (2014) it’s been achieved. Arrubarrena discusses three different types of stress’s toxic stress, tolerable stress and beneficial stress. tolerable stress: Can be severe but quite short going stress and example would be a separation between parents or bereavement in the family. In Arrubarrena’s study, it shows these can have a possibility of a greater risk to children but with the right support from a caregiver. The child can adapt and cope without the stress having a long-term negative impact on their childhood development .toxic stress: Such stress poses long-term and very harmful risks to children in that it can interfere with their physical and emotional development. Risks or stress’s come in many forms from one-off events to a chain of events lasting for a moment or many years. This could have a direct or indirect effect on young people, their families or the community the different types of risks pose different types of stress on children(Arrubarrena (2014). If a child is born in to or comes from a war-torn country, they can be exposed to a lot of different life-changing events. The possibility of seeing their family killed going off to fight for there county never to be seen again, not being able to get to see a medical professional if there are ill or sick and even have there home destroyed. They could decide to leave their country they might have to travel dangerously to another country to find a residency. Again this could see them go along time without seeing a medical professional, seeing family and friends or even parents there is even the possibility to be separated from friends or relatives. There is also a danger they could go without a form of education or a fix placed to lay there head at night. This is the same sort of risk if the child or children get exposed to a natural disaster like a hurricane or tsunami they are at risk of the possibility of poor developmental outcomes. These are factors can be seen as toxic risks or stresses, there is little no controlling them they are chronic can be repetitive and are mostly uncontrollable. Young people would find it hard to experience these without having access to support from caring adults. “In-house risks” as it were are more influenced by the parents or caregiver they might have physical or mental ill health, including maternal post-natal depression. The caregiver could also be addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling these would affect children later in life and are likely to grow up with problems. Children who grow up in poverty, who are physically or sexually abused, who are exposed to violence are at major risk. McCrory’s study of young people who have been maltreatment (sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect)in childhood(McCroy, 2007), shows maltreatment in childhood is a big cause of mental health contribution to the child when they grow up to adulthood. The study examines the neurological response of subjects who have exposed to early maltreatment or neglect. The paper concludes that the work indicated altered neurocognitive functioning following maltreatment. However, it was difficult to say exactly how each risk impacts have on any one individual or the lasting effects on them. It’s also very difficult to calculate whether the different factors and greater or lesser risks than another. Stating that not any single risk factor might not lead to a develop sensitivity and resilience it’s more a combination of risks, stresses and strain factors that would possibly lead to different vulnerabilities. Different risks can pose different stresses and strains on children but its how they respond to then that makes the difference. If they have a good support network to help them cope with family, friends or support groups or networks. They are more likely to deal with the stresses of the effects brought on by the things life throws at them. Sometimes risks for children can gain positive outcome risk factors can somewhat be beneficial to them. These could be starting a new nursery and making new friends or have a new brother or sister and having something new to focus on. If children are exposed to mild levels of stress, it can be a positive learning experience Donald Winnicott’s (Donald Winnicott’s (1964)) concept of ‘good-enough’ parenting backs this up. Children may also have protective factors, such as close family relationships, access to resources or high social capital. They may have good health, a strong sense of community or clear religious identity. Another side to it over parenting them and spoiling them children who are spoiled often do not have to learn to solve their problems, they can lack the life skills necessary to negotiate the demands of adulthood successfully.
The other factor to look at on what makes a child differ in their sensitivity and resilience is their genes. They are saying that it’s not what happens on the base of our lives but present inside of our-selfs. The evidence put forward to this theory is a video done by Dr Thomas Boyce on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mSrc0GFpJw&t=1230s) Thomas Boyce – The Orchid Child and the Science of Kindness. Dr Thomas Boyce discusses differences between children and their sensitivity to environmental influences he discusses himself and his sister had the same bringing in the same place with the same parents but had a hugely different outcome in adulthood. Internal and external environmental factors, like gender and drugs, influence gene expression. Being a different sex can attribute to the way genes can be affected baldness is a classic example of this. Baldness in men is influenced by two different type of hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. When these two hormones are very high will the person go bald. Females don’t tend to have as high levels as males, so it’s a rarer occurrence when they do. So baldness is more likely to accouter in men, but high levels of stress can lead to an expression of the gene in a woman. Drugs and chemicals can also affect the way our genes influence us, In the 1940’s supplemental oxygen was given to babies to try and normalise their breathing pattern. They would later discover that this leads to retinopathy of prematurity which binds people by 1953 they had made the link and stopped the practice. Babies that are born to parents that are addicted to heroin and are taking it during pregnancy have to start life taking methadone as they are addicted to opiates. Like Dr Thomas Boyce scientists Bruce Ellis and W. Thomas Boyce, University of Arizona developmental psychologist and the University of British Columbia developmental paediatrician respectively. Have also both been studying how the human genome influences young peoples sensitivity. The studies are about how their genes make up how sensitive each of the subjects is to different stress and stimuli of their childhood environments. These examples do show us there are specific circumstances that the environment can influence our genes, but there is a very complicated interaction between our genes. This might not define exactly who we are but can make changes to our life that we might have to adapt to.
With such high evidence of needing a good support network, it begs the question to ask at what point should governments intervene to help children who are at risk. Services or agencies that deal with child welfare are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week responding to reports of child abuse or neglect. Working with an ever-increasing and diverse population McCroskey J, Meezan W discuss this in Family-centered services: Approaches and effectiveness. The Future of Children(McCroskey and Meezan, 1998). Despite the families’ different histories, needs, resources, cultures, and expectations they still try their hardest to give young people the best support they can. When a report is made of child abuse or neglect, the local authorities get alerted via the welfare agencies. Then the child protective services agency then decides whether or not to make a report and investigate or make a case. When the case has been made they will decide on a course of action on the strength of evidence they gather. In some cases, it’s not uncommon that children to have been abused or neglected still may remain in their own home. Children who that are not safe in their current environment are put in to out of home care providing a place for a change for there own safety. These services have come under attack in recent years with such bad press with a lot of negative stories. These are put into the public eye for everyone to see and to judge, but they don’t hear about or get to see the excellent work that they have done.
Children that are bought up in the same environment or systems as stated in the Uri Bronfenbrenner under the same environmental and perinatal conditions. Take a look at Dr Thomas Boyce and his sister both bought up in the same place with the same parents, but both grew up completely different.
Genes are inside of us and when we a born it is little or not a lot we can do to change this DNA sequence DNA is nature’s blueprint. As we look at specific situations, there are sometimes every little we can do about stresses and strains in a children life. The thing that can bind most of these studies or evidence together is how the person is supported through it by a caregiver. There could be a concern for children to have a steady attachment figure in their lives as children’s emotional understand mainly with discussions with a caregiver. It is clear that during middle childhood children continue to be vulnerable to a wide range of threats and continue to use their attachment figures as a secure base from which to explore (Marvin and Britner, 1999). Granted if the caregiver is maltreating them then they will struggle to find the resilience to cope with the sensitive situation. With both these factors showing it’s the help of the caregiver that is the most important to help the children to get through the hard time or situations. This should make it the ultimate priority to identifying those who are at most risk and have appropriate interventions in place to protect them.With the psychological aspects of understanding sensitivity and building resilience the argument is, we should improve our understanding of what goes on in people minds after being maltreatment. Or even try to alter children’s genes to help them with there sensitivity and resilience. Phycologists are in an agreeance that they need to improve there understanding of children’s psychiatric vulnerability following maltreatment or significant stresses. Findings are suggesting that maltreatment makes neurocognitive alterations that lead to the fragility and psychiatric disorders. This makes for a compelling case for us to find those who are at most risk and have appropriate interventions in place to protect them. I feel we need to advance from just merely treating those with a manifest disorder. Also to develop effective preventative approaches that can or could help prevent or eradicate such disorders in the first place. So we should invest heavily in the services that help children who do get maltreated children and give caregivers the full support they need if they are struggling. In the future, we could also look in to manipulate genes of children that could one day maybe stop them from committing suicide or becoming a serial killer. Possibly one day this could lead to doctors getting rid of such things like leukaemia, cancers or life-changing illness like Multiple sclerosis. To so help parents educate them selfs, so they are not putting their genes at risk or risking there children’s genes to give them the best possible start in life. As in Thomas Boyce if we can treat the 4/10 children that are taking up over 50 % of resources we would be well on the way to making the world a better place.