From today’s Guardian Online – how children in care suffer shame that follows them into adulthood.
Written by Jimmy Paul, some of the common perceptions society has of children in care, such as them being there through their own bad/disruptive behaviour, will make you examine your own beliefs.
We need to remember that children in care have usually experienced trauma and/or abuse and that a safe, supportive environment is crucial to their physical and emotional stability and development. There is a stigma attached to children in care which is unjustified, incorrect and outdated, not to mention damaging and isolating. As the article states:
‘Rejection, uncertainty and a lack of love can be extremely isolating. I still felt the weight of the label when I went to university. The sense of guilt, shame and unworthiness were so deep-rooted that I concealed my care experience into adulthood. My life was a charade.’
Just imagine being a child who feels worthless, unloved and is not within a loving, family environment. Who is isolated, ashamed and extremely vulnerable. On top of this, they are aware of some of society’s attitude towards them – that they are to blame for their predicament – the article continues:
‘It’s commonly stated that those with care experiences are more likely to go to prison than university, are more likely to have a diagnosable mental health issue, and face worse outcomes. More work is needed to establish definite statistics around this; but much more work needs to take place to ensure that the voices of those who have experienced care are included in this.
Assumptions (in the absence of qualitative richness) lead some parts of society to believe that children in care belong to a form of underclass. The offspring of delinquents, who deserve to feel the way I felt. I was extremely aware of the stereotypes of what care experienced adults turn out like and I felt like I constantly needed to blend in with others not to become a statistic’
No child deserves to be excluded from their natural family in what should be a loving, inclusive environment. And if they are, then they certainly don’t deserve the stigma that is attached to their care home background.
More tolerance, more understanding and more education. Needed by adults. Not the children.