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The placement of adolescent boys : a survey-review of the problems of adolescent boys in care of the Children's Aid Society, Vancouver, B.C. Reed, George Aubrey

Abstract

The basis for this study is a survey made by the Vancouver Children's Aid Society of the adolescent boys in their care, with special reference to their problems of adjustment and foster home placement. Since the schedules of the survey were of a very general nature, rating scales were devised in an attempt to give more specific classifications to the data. Age at admission and average number of foster home placements were used as starting points; and a fourfold classification of admission (corresponding to the developmental stages, oral and anal, oedipal, latent, and adolescent) was employed throughout. The psychology of the adolescent and the developmental periods prior to adolescence are briefly described as a background for this study, since adolescent adjustment is affected by anxieties and fears which have been carried over from previous developmental periods. Separation of a child from his parents may represent to him the total loss of parent affection upon which his ability to adjust is based: the child in care may thus be prevented from making a satisfying adjustment due to the anxieties of separation. Examination of the survey data showed that the four major groups of problems among the adolescents were emotional maladjustments, delinquent tendencies, relationship difficulties and forms of disturbed behaviour. Correspondingly, the boys who predominantly showed these problems had been placed in the greatest number of foster homes. A "hard core" of approximately sixty boys appeared to be completely unsuitable for foster home placement, because of the problems they showed, as well as the number of foster home placements they had experienced. The analysis also made clear that children admitted to care during adolescence have the greatest difficulty in adjusting to foster homes. To present a more detailed picture of the present and past adjustment of the adolescent, case illustrations were used; these lead to suggestions on resources other than foster homes which would satisfy the adolescents' needs. The illustrations emphasize the effect of experiences prior to adolescence and the damaging effect of numerous foster homes on a boy's adjustment. In general, the study points up the need for complete diagnostic examination of the child when he is first admitted to care. Prom this diagnosis a plan for the care of the child should be made which will satisfy his needs. If the plan proves inadequate, a complete review of the case should be made in order to determine the reasons for the failure of the original placement, and as a guide for preventing future failures. Several types of residential units are suggested which would offer a group living experience for those boys for whom foster home placement has proven unsuitable. These units could be coordinated into an adolescent boys department. Community assistance would be needed to set up these resources, especially those concerned with the treatment of gross maladjustment which if allowed to go untreated, will almost certainly result in greater damage to human lives and cost to the community.

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