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NCJ Number: 203622 Find in a Library
Title: Bonding and Attachment of Australian Aboriginal Children
Journal: Child Abuse Review  Volume:12  Issue:5  Dated:September-October 2003  Pages:292-304
Author(s): Soo See Yeo
Date Published: September 2003
Page Count: 13
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This paper explores the current practice of the children's court in New South Wales, Australia, in assessing the bonding and attachment of Aboriginal children to their parents and primary caregivers as the basis for determining whether an out-of-home placement is appropriate.
Abstract: Current assessments on the bonding and attachment of Aboriginal children to parents and primary caregivers are based in an ethnocentric view rooted in Anglo-Celtic values. Under the presumptions of such bonding and attachment assessment, Aboriginal children in New South Wales continue to be significantly overrepresented in the substitute care population. This paper argues that any assessment of bonding and attachment of Aboriginal children must take into account the historical, cultural, and spiritual contexts of the families and communities in which the children have been raised. Without an appreciation of Aboriginal history, culture, and politics, it is difficult to have a full understanding of the long-term implications for an Aboriginal child to be raised in a non-Aboriginal family. The most obvious effect is shame or denial of an Aboriginal identity. To be an Aboriginal person is to live within and reflect the culture through interactions with the community while learning what it is to incorporate the attitudes and behaviors of the Aboriginal culture. This involves the development of a spiritual connection with ancestors and a way of life as well as receiving the benefits of a supportive network. Although the sensitivity response from the parent to the children is primary in the positive development of a child, the sensitivity response is culturally based. Generally, Aboriginal children grow up in a close relationship with the broader community, and various mothers will often breastfeed the infants. Children are cared for by different women interchangeably and often will be raised by women who are not their natural mothers. Infants are kept close to their caregivers, and they may be weaned off at approximately 3 years old or as old as 5 years old; this practice may be considered inappropriate in Western cultural views of child-raising. It is crucial that the New South Wales children's courts which deal with the care and protection of children take into account Aboriginal historical, cultural, and spiritual practices and values reflected in the raising of children when they assess the bonding and attachment experience of an Aboriginal child. Further, the courts must take into account the research findings that show the detrimental effects of placing an Aboriginal child in a non-Aboriginal home. 31 references
Main Term(s): Parent-Child Relations
Index Term(s): Aborigines; Australia; Child placement services; Cultural influences; Family support; New South Wales; Parental attitudes; Parental influence
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