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Tony’s story from life course perspective

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 2287 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Tony is a 14 year old boy who is out going and boisterous adolescent. June His mother describes him as “out of control” and says he never does as he is told June say’s “he is going to end up like his father terry” who is currently serving a prison sentence for a violent assault.

Discuss how an understanding of human development from a life course perspective assists you in understanding this child’s situation

Consider how your understanding will influence your work with the child and family social worker.

Human development from a life course perspective is a way of considering all contributing factors of an individual life and incorporating them with growth, development and change. It is often referred to as the lifespan or cycle, theorists use the different perspectives in order to understand and interpret different experiences and how these impact on an individual. The biggest debate throughout the centuries has been the nature nurture debate. There has been differing perspectives for example the

psychological and sociological perspectives to define exactly how much of personality, characteristics, behaviour and feelings derives from nurture or how much is in our genes and therefore innate. I will look at some theories in order to explain the case of Tony, a fourteen year old boy, who is described as an outgoing and boisterous adolescent.

Tony’s mother describes him as “out of control” she feels that he is unruly and states “he is going to end up like his father Terry” who is incarcerated for a violent assault. In order to fully understand Tony’s situation you must look further than the facts. There is likely to be various underlying issues within parental relationships, his environment, poverty and education, which will contribute considerably to his situation, therefore as a social worker I would consider a holistic approach in order to obtain a full and accurate understanding of his situation. To do this I will be incorporating theories on various aspects of his Tony’s life from a psychological, biological and psychosocial perspective.

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Obstructions vary and can be hereditary such as a disability or health problems or environmental such as education unemployment and living conditions. According to the Behavioural Perspective, the individual may mimic or learn behaviours through: their environment, their peers, television, internet and media but more importantly role models. These behaviour patterns are underpinned by positive or negative rewards for the behaviour which in turn determine which behaviours are chosen to mimic Gross (20??). Tony’s father may have been a strong role model for him within a disadvantaged area where he may not have felt safe or secure. (Elaborate from violent night book).

There is a pattern throughout many perspectives which link the importance of stages in determining human development, like the lifecourse, such as; Piage’s stages of moral development, Freud’s psychosexual stages and Erikson’s eight stages of man. Erikson considered the developing stages of the life span as eight individual tasks and suggested these, depending on how successful the completion, would result in a positive or negative outcome. The eight stages of man is considered to be a Freudian based model of the psychosexual stages, as both see the relevant stages and the importance of completing them in order to successfully move on to the next. However Freud was not as flexible as Erikson, as he did not consider the ability to repair uncompleted tasks, where as Erikson suggests that more often than not there will be unresolved issues, but which may be overcome in later life. In Erikson’s adolescent stage, where the individual is thought to go through a process of identity v role confusion, searching for a coherent personal and vocational identity. The desired result of this would be for the individual to consider themselves as a consistent and integrated person.

However in Tony’s case there may have been an interruption of the stages, for example if his father has had an inconsistent relationship with Tony through a number of prison sentences from reoffending, then there may be confusion as to ‘what or who he is’. This outcome is considered to be a pattern for any individual who does not successfully complete this stage within the psychosocial model. Beckett (20??). Vitaro et al derived a theory based on Erikson’s eight stages that an individual who has a best friend or role model who is a delinquent, has a higher chance of them too developing such behaviour. However this model tends to take a somewhat individualistic approach and does not consider free will or the humanistic approach which would say that human beings have the ability to overcome adversities and choose the path in which they want to take. Gross Psychology (2008).

We can assume that there is a problem with finances which may suggest that there are some aspects of poverty. According to Perry (2004), children largely reflect their upbringing; positive and negative life experiences will determine behaviour. Therefore an understanding of early experiences and how they impact on the human brain is vital in order to understand the individual. The more enriched the early experiences of the child, the better the outcome and chance to reach their full potential is thought to be.

Du Plessis suggests, DATE the only innate features human beings are born with is reflexes such as blinking, breathing and sucking. Everything else is thought to be learned through the environment in which they live which then in turn will then determine the adult they become. She gives an example of a person given the wrong directions would never reach the desired destination, just as a child not given the necessary emotional support, love and affection will never reach their full potential, therefore the parents as the primary educators.

“The destiny of children’s lives lies in the hands of their parents”. Du Plessis (19..)

Mills suggests that people develop differently depending on the culture and environment in which they live as this affects the opportunities which they may have, or lack, through their life span. REFERENCE Income has a direct effect on children’s development for example; poor housing conditions such as: damp, cold and poorly nourished have a direct emotional and physical effect. There is also an indirect effect through the parent’s suffering hardships, parents and caregivers may not fully accomplish their parenting tasks unless living within ‘permitted circumstance’. Children’s development and well being is said to suffer through inequality as financial deprivation is probably the most common and wide spread stress factor faced by families within society. Algate, etal (19??).

“Poverty means staying at home, often bored, not seeing friends, not going to the cinema, not going out for a drink and not being able to take the children out for a trip or a treat or a holiday. It means coping with the stresses of managing on very little money, often for months or even years. It means having to withstand the onslaught of society’s pressures to consume. It impinges on relationships with others and with yourself. Above all poverty takes away the tools to create the building blocks of the future-your ‘life chances’. It steals away the opportunity to have a life unmarked by sickness, a decent education, a secure home and a long retirement. It stops people being able to plan ahead. It stops people being able to take control of their own lives. Taken from Aldgate – (Oppenheim and Halker 19996 p5)

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Behaviour which is collectively considered unacceptable or maladaptive behaviour is thought to derive from distorted thought cognitions. These can often be self defeating thought processes not feeling good enough or in Tony’s case being constantly told he will never amount to anything positive. Gross Psychology (200??). Piaget’s theory of cognitive development emphasises the understanding of how a child’s cognitive ability varies by age, this too is a stage theory of cognitive ability. Such theories have given an insight into how a child is able to understand, or make sense of, their environment or a given situation and enabling professionals to consider such factors to guide their approach. (advanced psychology reference)

It may be argued that Tony is merely a product of his environment (look at book on environmental issues)…

However environmental factors, although have a vast impact, do not consider the individual will or the ability of human resilience to overcome obstacles, for example: the Humanistic Approach which emphasises individual choice. There is the thought that a person chooses whether or not to submit to oppressive circumstances and, has the ability, to overcome disruptions in order to reach full potential Gross (2008). Psychosocial is considering both individual psychology and social context of people’s lives on their individual development Walker (2008). It focuses on the importance of illiminating obstructions which may be preventing self actualisation, like the Humanistic Approach, emphasis on the will of a person and their ability to overcome adversities.

(Look at Darwin for biological explanations)…

Sociological explanations on deprivation- Bronfenbrenner (1979) influenced social work practice as he derived a series of systems to explain deprivation in depth which were: The microsystem which is the immediate environment such as people and events in the home, this is said to have the largest impact as it is direct, the mesosystem, which is a social and cultural factor and the way in which two or more Microsystems interact, the chronosystem which is the history of growth and development of time, the Ecosystem is beyond the immediate environment, for example the neighbourhood in which the child lives, and finally the macrosystem which is social factors, economic conditions and cultural values. Each of these systems interacts with each other to form the complexity of each individual’s life. Crawford and Walker (2008)

Look up examples of psychosocial theories-psychological theories is developmental psychology, cognitive and behavioural approaches which are already in essay but need to relate to eachother and state as such.

Conclusion To gain an understanding of each individual, as an individual, there must be an understanding of the interaction between various factors such as: the genes we inherit, physical characteristics, environmental factors, the impact of culture and response of others for example social class, the way we are brought up and choices made, random or unexpected events, opportunities and the impact of others on and in our lives Crawford and Walker (2008). As a social worker I would take a life course perspective, in order to ensure that I could incorporate this theory into practice, I would take a narrative approach. This is a way of working with individuals that focuses on the importance of their experiences and the meaning they attach to them, how the individual may have interpreted experiences within their lifespan to get to this point and therefore possible approaches or interventions to fit.

For ADP being careful of discriminatory language like youth culture which is linked to hoodies culture, talking about anti social behaviour is again linking the individual to a label based on age and assumptions. Also not using jargon therefore ensuring language is clear and targets are clearly understood, not abusing power by ensuring the individual has a right to input on how they feel and what they want despite them being a minor. Not making assumptions based on class or the environment in which they live that may be linked to high drug and crime rate. Not assuming the behaviour is innate and therefore there is genetics which will determine the behaviour of Tony to be exactly like his father. Ensuring all legislation and procedures are met as he is a minor with regards to objectives and choices given. Making sure you’re using resources available to the best of ability as you will more than likely be working within a budget. Assessing time scale trying to improve the situation before there is a crime committed, therefore assessing whose needs are to be addressed first. Looking at what agency you are working with and the approach that they take therefore being accountable for any choices you make within this restriction and having awareness of poverty, adolescence, the effects of incarcerated parents on their children and local agencies that you may incorporate to deal with practical problems.

Children’s whose parents are incarcerated are often overlooked when considering adversities faced by families and support structures which are put in place after such an event. According to Barnardo’s report, children of those in prison are more likely to experience mental health difficulties, poor housing conditions and poverty, yet are less likely to offered help and support for these. There is said to be over two hundred and eight local authorities and health boards spread across the United Kingdom and yet only twenty make reference to children whose parents are imprisoned in their children’s plan. (According to Linda Wilson director of bernardo’s Northern Island).


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