Institutionalized Neglect Parables and Pop Culture

The Music of Humanity

This song brings into question what are we as humans made of? What type of person are you, what does it mean to be good and what does it mean to be bad. It mentions the fundamental need that all humans have for some sort of connection. The connection that people have with other people is vital to development

Institutionalized Neglect in Movies

This is the movie Oliver. In this clip we see Oliver asking for more gruel. This innocent request is met with anger and the threat of a a beating. Oliver runs away from Mister Bumble and the other boys kick and try to stop him instead being in solidarity with one of their fellows. The next point to take note of is that Mister Bumble doesn't know Oliver's name even though he named him. There is no emotional connection to the boys in his care. Yes Oliver has clothes on, yes he was given some sort of food, and yes there is a roof over his head but Oliver has no one to care for him, no one to make him feel wanted or even useful. The threats and repercussions for daring to as for more food continues for the rest of the clip.

This clip is after Oliver has been sold for being more trouble then he is worth. He has been thrown in the basement because he has gotten into more trouble with the people he was sold to. He sings a song about where love is. Oliver wants one thing in the world and that would be an emotional connection. He turns to a higher power and asks "can I mean something too?" " Where is love?" These two clips exemplify what it means to be neglected by the institution. A place that is suppose to keep you save and provide for you but that fails to give emotional support and interrupts the ability to form secure attachments.

This movie that is about a boys reformatory school, this scene shows the callousness of how the boys are treated. They are not given emotional connection, everything is punitive to these boys. The mass punishment is just one example of how institutionalized neglect works and reeks havoc on the development of these boys brains and bodies.

Brain Differences

Child maltreatment during infancy and early childhood has been shown to negatively affect child development, including brain and cognitive development, attachment, and academic achievement. Child abuse and neglect can have enduring physical, intellectual, and psychological repercussions into adolescence and adulthood. Overwhelming stress and young children. Early exposure to trauma — extremely fearful events — and high levels of stress affect the developing brain, particularly in those areas involved in emotions and learning. The amygdala and the hippocampus are two brain structures involved in fear and traumatic stress. The amygdala detects whether a stimulus (person or event) is threatening and the hippocampus, the center of short-term memory, links the fear response to the context in which the threatening stimulus or event occurred. These two brain structures also play an important role in the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin influencing the capacity of the prefrontal cortex for regulating thought, emotions, and actions, as well as keeping information readily accessible during active learning. When a child is faced with this overwhelming stress which stems from in this case being institutionally neglected their brain drive the fight or flight response and releases stress hormones. These children have a limited capacity to manage this overload and it generally causes fear and anxiety.

What we have learned about the process of brain development helps us understand more about the roles both genetics and the environment play in our development. It appears that genetics predispose us to develop in certain ways, but our experiences, including our interactions with other people, have a significant impact on how our predispositions are expressed. In fact, research now shows that many capacities thought to be fixed at birth are actually dependent on a sequence of experiences combined with heredity. Both factors are essential for optimum development of the human brain (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000).

Researchers use the term plasticity to describe the brain’s ability to change in response to repeated stimulation. The extent of a brain’s plasticity is dependent on the stage of development and the particular brain system or region affected (Perry, 2006). For instance, the lower parts of the brain, which control basic functions such as breathing and heart rate, are less flexible, or plastic, than the higher functioning cortex, which controls thoughts and feelings. While cortex plasticity decreases as a child gets older, some degree of plasticity remains. In fact, this brain plasticity is what allows us to keep learning into adulthood and throughout our lives. The developing brain’s ongoing adaptations are the result of both genetics and experience. Our brains prepare us to expect certain experiences by forming the pathways needed to respond to those experiences. For example, our brains are “wired” to respond to the sound of speech; when babies hear people speaking, the neural systems in their brains responsible for speech and language receive the necessary stimulation to organize and function (Perry, 2006). The more babies are This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. If the appropriate exposure does not happen, the pathways developed in anticipation may be discarded. This is sometimes referred to as the concept of “use it or lose it.” It is through these processes of creating, strengthening, and discarding synapses that our brains adapt to our unique environment. The ability to adapt to our environment is a part of normal development. Children growing up in cold climates, on rural farms, or in large sibling groups learn how to function in those environments. Regardless of the general environment, though, all children need stimulation and nurturance for healthy development. If these are lacking (e.g., if a child’s caretakers are indifferent, hostile, depressed, or cognitively impaired), the child’s brain development may be impaired. Because the brain adapts to its environment, it will adapt to a negative environment just as readily as it will adapt to a positive one.

What is Neglect

The definition of Neglect in which laws and policies of the US are based off is: a failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

This definition fails to sufficiently acknowledge the less immediately visible leads to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, health, and emotional wellness.

Attachment Disorder

Attachment Disorder is extremely pervasive in children that have been neglected. This can lead to behavioral issues, issues in schools, work places, and in everyday life. Attachment Disorder is defined as the condition in which individuals have difficulty forming lasting relationships. They often show nearly a complete lack of ability to be genuinely affectionate with others. They typically fail to develop a conscience and do not learn to trust. Children with reactive attachment disorder have been so disrupted in early life that their future relationships are also impaired. They may experience difficulty relating to others and are often developmentally delayed. Reactive attachment disorder is common in children who have been abused, bounced around in foster care, lived in orphanages, or taken away from their primary caregiver after establishing a bond.

However, no matter how detached or insecure your child seems, or how frustrated or exhausted you feel at trying to connect, attachment disorders can be repaired. With patience and perseverance, you can help your child feel safe and secure and able to develop healthy, meaningful, and loving relationships—starting with their relationship with you. Parenting a child with insecure attachment or reactive attachment disorder can be exhausting, frustrating, and emotionally trying. It is hard to put your best parenting foot forward without the reassurance of a loving connection with your child. Children with RAD are less likely to interact with other people because of negative experiences with adults in their early years. They have difficulty calming down when stressed and do not look for comfort from their caregivers when they are upset. These children may seem to have little to no emotions when interacting with others. They may appear unhappy, irritable, sad, or scared while having normal activities with their caretaker. The diagnosis of RAD is made if symptoms become chronic.

Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder is another common disorder to arise from institutionalized neglect. The primary defining feature of disinhibited social engagement disorder is a person’s pattern of behavior that involves culturally inappropriate, overly familiar behavior with relative strangers. This behavior violates the ordinary social customs and boundaries of the culture. Symptoms of Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder are consisting of but not limited to the following: behavior where a child is resistant to approaching and interacting with unfamiliar adults, overly familiar verbal or physical behaviors that defies socially sanctioned norms, not checking back with adult caregiver adult venturing away even in unfamiliar settings, as well as a willingness to go off with an unfamiliar adult with little to no hesitation.

Sometimes you may wonder if your efforts are worth it but be assured that they are. With time, patience, and concerted effort, attachment disorders can be repaired Some of the symptoms are but not limited to the following: an aversion to touch and physical affection, control issues, anger problems, difficulty showing genuine care and affection, having an underdeveloped conscience, avoids eye contact, and doesn’t smile.

This problem is evident when you look at the child welfare system and see children in environments that meet the criteria for reportable neglect, but they do not appear to have any physical harm in the moment. The sad truth is that these kids have already experienced disruptions in the development of their brain, organs and metabolic systems that are irreparable.

While when people typically think of neglect they think of extreme physical neglect there are 4 types of neglect stated as follows: physical neglect, medical neglect, supervisory neglect, and institutional neglect.

Extreme cases of physical neglect are typically regarded as children who are almost starved to death, they can’t speak because no one ever talks to them, they are not toilet trained and sit in their own filth for days at a time. These are the cases that you hear about in the news where the home is infested with every pest imaginable and the child is small and stunted.

Physical neglect can be summed ups as the failure, inability or flat out refusal to provide basic needs like food, safety, clothes, shelter, and reasonable protection.

Medical Neglect which is most commonly found with children who have chronic illness or serious mental illness that effect the function of day to day life. This would be the repeated denial or refusal to seek out medical or mental health professionals in order to provide services that drastically affect one’s life. Though this definition is lenient its enforcement neglects the mental health component and is only used for medical attention that is needed in a life or death manner for a child.

Supervisory neglect is not providing a child adequate supervision as per their need. An example of this would be leaving a 2 year old at home alone to take care of themselves while you go to Vegas for the weekend. The life of the child could be at jeopardy as there is an expectation that they will cook for themselves, clean themselves, and keep the home in some sort of functional state while their parents are gone. What 2 year old can handle those responsibilities safely by themselves?

These forms of neglect can occur independently of each other but a lot of the time when a child is being neglected in the home they will experience multiple forms of neglect at once.

Books Exemplifying Aspects of Institutionalized Neglect

Enders Game Plot

Enders game takes place in the future where the world has been attacked by aliens and won. The world is recruiting children to train for the war when the aliens returned. Ender the main character is taken to space to train to be the great commander that Earth needs. Through his training he experiences institutionalized neglect for what is deemed as the sake of humanity

Moments in the Book that Show Institutionalized Neglect

" 'It was what I was born for, isn't it? If I don't go, why am I alive?' 'Not good enough,' Graff said. 'I don't want to go,' said Ender, 'but I will.'" Chapter 3, pg 26

This is one of the first moments in the book where the institution turns down Ender's bid for attention and attachment. Graff doesn't care what Ender is feeling so long as Ender does what Graff wants that damage that is being done is not worth Graff's time.

"With Ender, we have to strike a delicate balance. Isolate him enough that he remains creative - otherwise he'll adopt the systems here and we'll lose him. At the same time, we need to make sure he keeps a strong ability to lead." Chapter 4, pg 27

This quote exemplifies how this type of neglect is legal. Enders basic needs of food, shelter, and education are being met but he is being held from making relationships and having all emotional needs falter.

"[Shen and Ender] laughed together. Ender's isolation was over." Chapter 5, pg 53

Ender is so devoid of emotional connection at this point that just sharing a laugh makes Ender feel like he has a friend, that his entire world can change.

"... the adults are the enemies, not the other armies. They do not tell us the truth." Chapter 7, pg 82

Ender see the adults as the enemies because what he most desperately wants the adults have and can give him but choose not to. He wants positive emotional feedback from people, from the people that are suppose to take care of him.

"Bonzo's anger [was] growing hot. Hot anger was bad. Ender's anger was cold, and he could use it. Bonzo's was hot, so it used him." Chapter 7, pg 87

The motivating force behind their interactions is anger. Both of these children struggle to regulate emotions because they have no proper model in their environment. With out adults connecting on an emotional level children are unable to experience a ride range of emotions and can be come hostile.

"Listen, Ender, commanders have just as much authority as you let them have. The more you obey, the more power they have over you." Chapter 8, pg 102

In efforts to cope with the lack of emotional stimulation, support, and concern the children attempt to exert some semblance of control over their lives, they turn the anger they feel, and fill the void with anger that can be directed at the adults that caused the void.

"I can't believe you haven't seen through all this crap yet, Ender... These other armies, they aren't the enemy. It's the teachers, they're the enemy. They get us to fight each other, to hate each other." Chapter 8, pg 108

This quote exemplifies the nature of institutionalized neglect. Children are not encouraged to engage with one another

"It was the teachers who had done it... It was a strategy. Graff had deliberately set him up to be separate from the other boys, made it impossible for him to be close to them." Chapter 10, pg 167

"And with that anger, he decided he was strong enough to defeat them-the teachers, his enemies." Chapter 10, pg 172

"The teachers got me into this-they can keep me safe." Chapter 11, pg 195

"Ender Wiggin must believe that no matter what happens, no adult will ever, ever step in to help him in any way... If he does not believe that, then he will never reach the peak of his abilities." Chapter 12, pg 202

Moments of Isolation Adding to Institutionalized Neglect as a Whole

By telling the rest of the launch group that Ender is the only excellent mind in the group, Graff quickly allows the rest of the group to become distrustful of Ender. After Ender is pokes by a sharp object repeatedly, and Ender responds by unintentionally breaking his arm, Graff further isolates Ender by insulting the launch crew and exalting Ender as the best.

Bernard helps isolate Ender some more, as the former builds a gang around himself. They torment him as often as they can, kicking, insulting, and excluding him. Ender allows himself to move to the fringes

The intent of the adults, by promoting him to Salamander Army, was to isolate Ender and force him to rise to the occasion. Ender is remorseful at losing the camaraderie that he took so long to cultivate with the launch group. He is alone at Salamander, but luckily finds an acquaintance (if not a friend) in Petra.

Ender, because of his talents, and because of his amazing abilities, is again alone. Everyone treats him with respect, but he has no friends, nobody who allows him to be a friend. By virtue of his standing as the best student at Battle School, he is alone, and he pities himself for it. Graff explains why Ender is isolated to Valentine: "Isolation is-the optimum environment for creativity." (Chapter 9, pg 149)

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