Maltreated children’s social understanding and empathy: a preliminary exploration of foster carers’ perspectives

Luke, Nikki and Banerjee, Robin (2012) Maltreated children’s social understanding and empathy: a preliminary exploration of foster carers’ perspectives. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21 (2). pp. 237-246. ISSN 1062-1024

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Abstract

Previous research suggests that parental abuse and neglect can have adverse effects on children’s peer relationships and self-perceptions. Emerging theoretical and empirical work suggests that children’s social understanding and empathy could play a key role as mediators of these effects, but we have little knowledge about the viability of such a model in explaining the everyday experiences of children in care. Thus, in order to gain an in-depth insight into the potentiality of this conceptual model, a focus group and detailed semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with a total of 10 foster carers. First, a thematic analysis revealed that problematic self-perceptions and peer relationships were indeed commonplace. Crucially, in line with our theoretical model, carers readily identified children’s difficulties with social understanding and empathy as relevant explanations for their socio-emotional problems. Carers reported using a variety of strategies to help children, but expressed a need for a clearer training package of practical strategies that could be used to encourage social understanding and empathy in children, with the aim of improving their social relationships.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Depositing User: Robin Banerjee
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2012 13:34
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2012 13:34
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/42413
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