Sociology Project Topics

Assessment of the Socio- Environmental Determinant of Emotional and Social Well Being of Teenagers in Foster Homes




 Background of the study

Adolescence is the period of transition from childhood to adulthood, a stage of major growth and development in which significant physiological, cognitive, psychological and behavioural changes take place. Gidion, (2010). At this stage, important developmental tasks, such as developing an identity and becoming independent need to be accomplished. Nevertheless, the concept of adolescence is socially constructed rather than being biologically determined; hence the image of adolescence is a time of stormy stress, intense moodiness and preoccupation with the self. Adolescence is a period of intense and rapid development and is characterised by numerous developmental tasks, including gaining new and more mature relationships with others, achieving a masculine or feminine social role and achieving emotional independence from parents and other adults Joseph & Moore, (2002). When adolescent development is successful, the result is a biologically mature individual, equipped with the capacity to form close relationships. The adolescent is also equipped with cognitive and psychological resources to face the challenges of adult life. Hazen, Schlozman & Beresin, (2008). The families, in general, and parents, in particular, have often been deemed to be the most important support system available to the child during the adolescenthood processes Joanna, (1996). The strongest factor in moulding a child‟s personality is the relationship with the parents; under normal circumstances every child is expected to be parented by his or her biological parents, and this will promote love and affection and bring about bond between the child and the parents. If his parents love him with a generous, even-flowing, non-possessive affection and they treat him as a person, like themselves, with adequate right and responsibilities, then he has the chance of developing normally. But if they diverge from this, the child‟s development may be distorted. Cox & Cox, (2009). This is to show that successful parenting is based on a healthy, respectful, and long-lasting relationship with the child. This process of parenting is viewed in the psychological sense rather than biological and leads a child to perceive a given adult as his or her „parent‟. Dorsey, (2009). That perception is essential for the child‟s development of emotional and social well-being. Optimal child development may occur when a spectrum of needs are consistently met over an extended period. Likewise, a child develops attachments and recognises as parents, adults who provide a day-to-day attention to his needs for physical care, nourishment, comfort, affection, and stimulation. This attachment to a primary caregiver who can either be the biological parents or the foster parents is essential to the development of emotional security and social conscience. But sometimes, this may not be the case when a child is not directly trained by the biological parents, which is a common trend in Africa. Troy & Beckert, (2005).

Isiugo-Abanihe (1983) reports that child fostering or the practice of sending children out to be raised by non-biological parents is wide spread among many societies in West Africa and Nigeria, in particular, and adolescent fostering has become a global problem that needs to be tackled if they are to be given their rights. Gelles, (2009). The issue of adolescent fostering has been given serious attention in many parts of the world, and Nigeria is not left out. Given this serious effort, one would have thought that this menace will not persist. Prior to the creation of juvenile and family courts, children who were maltreated by their families were dependent upon informal interventions from their communities and churches. Gil, (2005). Children suffer grave consequences when informal protective networks failed. Without a protective network, neglected and homeless youths often wandered the street begging or stealing in order to subsist. For centuries, the Nigerian child has been seen as an instrument or property with no absolute privilege of its own. Umobong, (2010). In the traditional African society, the belief was that children should merely be seen and not heard and were not allowed to listen to adults‟ discussions/conversation let alone make contributions. According to Umobong (2010), the training of the child is the sole responsibility of the parents and members of the community who have the right to discipline and correct the child whenever he/she goes wrong. Suffice it to say that the parents trained the child in a way that is suitable and acceptable to the standard of the society. Some children are taken away from their biological family of due to the inability of their parents to care for them as a result of various calamities ranging from physical or mental illness, imprisonment due to illegal behaviours such as drug trafficking and abuse. Other causes can be due to financial constraints, inadequate housing and unemployment, family and community violence. Charlotte, (2001).

Foster care is care for children outside the home that substitutes for parental care. The child may be placed with a family, relatives or strangers, in a group home (where up to a dozen foster children live under the continuous supervision of a parental figure), or in an institution. Tower, (2001). Whatever its form, foster care is an enormous upheaval in the life of a child, who often must adjust not only to a different family, a different location, a different school, and different peers, and different culture as well. Rawn, (2004). Important decisions concerning the lives of foster children are in the hands of strangers, such as juvenile courts, social welfare agencies, substitute parents, anyone of which may have custody of the child. Troy, (2005). Foster care is intended to be a temporary living situation for children with the aim of reunifying such children with their parents or guardian later in life. This may include an adoptive home, guardianship, or placement with a relative. At times, the bond that develops during foster care will lead to the foster parents adopting the child. In some instances, children may have a long-term placement. For older adolescents, a foster care programme may offer education and resources to prepare for a transition to independent living. Zetlin, (2004).

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The foster care system faces major societal problems, such as, high rates of child and family poverty, homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, unequal education, family and community violence, all these directly impact the adolescent well- being and the child welfare system. These factors have contributed to the development of large case loads of families that have multiple and complex needs. Early physical abuse and neglect in the course of fostering may cause adverse alterations to important regions of the brain, which can have long-term cognitive, emotional and behavioural consequence. Wiley & Karr-Morse, (2009). Fostered children abused early in life may also exhibit poor physical and mental health well-being into adulthood. These effects are strongly correlated with low academic achievement, substance abuse, and a myriad of other problems that prevent successful social adaptation. Kendall, Tackett & Eckenrode, 1996; Widom, DuMont, & Czaja, (2007). Older children who have been repeatedly traumatised in the process of staying with foster parents often suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and automatically freeze when they feel anxious, and therefore are considered oppositional or deviant by those who interact with them”. American Academy of Pediatrics, (2000). Adolescents in foster care typically have troubled backgrounds with multiple social and emotional problems that place high demands on foster parents. While the health and safety needs of fostered adolescents are easier to observe, the emotional well-being of these adolescents is often difficult to identify. Recognising emotional and social well-being becomes, particularly, challenging when the adolescents move to foster homes.


Statement of research problem

Adolescent in foster care are particularly vulnerable to detrimental outcomes ,as they often come into foster homes due to their exposure to maltreatment, family instability and a number of other risk factors that compromise their healthy development Fostered adolescents may be victims of family violence, or may not have been supervised or provided for appropriately manner. They may have been subjected to inadequate and impaired care- giving that results from a variety of parental difficulties, such as, substance abuse, mental illness and developmental disabilities. Moreover, these children are predominantly from impoverished backgrounds, a situation that exacerbates risk factors. An extremely high prevalence of emotional disturbance among young people in foster care is common, particularly those in group homes. These teens are at increase risk for such potentially adverse outcomes as educational under achievement/discontinuation, substance abuse and ultimately homelessness. Removal of children from their biological parents is enormously painful to the affected individuals. Many children and adolescents in foster care may feel anxious, uncertain and helpless to control their lives. Many feel angry, rejected, and pained by the separation or they develop a profound sense of loss. Some feel guilty, believing that they caused the disruption of their biological family. This, therefore, raises the question on how the fostering system could be made to work effectively in Nigeria. It is on this basis that the study investigated the extent to which socio-environmental factors determine the level of emotional and social well-being of adolescents in foster homes in Southwestern Nigeria.

Objectives of the study

the primary objective of the study are as follows

l  determine the extent to which socio-environmental factors  influence emotional well-being of adolescents in foster homes in lagos  Nigeria.

l  assess the level of relationship between Socio-environmental factors and social well-being of adolescents in foster homes in  Nigeria.

l  examine the impact of social factors  on emotional well-being of adolescents in foster homes.

  Research questions

the following research questions have been formulated for this study

1.        to what extent have the social factors influenced the emotions of the adolescents in foster homes in Southwestern Nigeria?

2.        what are the effects of environmental factors on the emotional well-being of adolescents in foster homes in Southwestern Nigeria?

3.        what are the influences of social factors (peer influence, foster officials‟ religious beliefs and media exposure) on social well-being of the adolescents in foster homes in Southwestern Nigeria?

4.        what are the effects of environmental factors on social well-being of the adolescents in foster homes in Southwestern Nigeria?

Research hypothesis

The following null hypotheses were tested:

Ho1 there is no significant relationship between social and environmental factors and emotional well-being of adolescents in foster homes in lagos Nigeria.

Ho2 there is no significant relationship between social and environmental factors and social well-being of adolescents in foster homes in lagos Nigeria.

 Significance of the study

This study is important because it provides insight into other approaches to fostering. This will assist the community to provide a healthy environment which will encourage the growth of the fostered adolescent and help them to enter into new stages of life and face its challenges. The outcome of this study will also guide foster homes in providing good governance to the fostered adolescents and bridge the gap between the foster family and the biological family of the adolescents

The study will also encourage the significant others like the religious organisations, schools, counsellors  and academia

 Scope of the study

the study will assess the socio environmental determinants of emotional and social well being of teenagers in foster homes. Hence, the study will be delimited to male and female who were raised in foster home , government and registered private foster homes in lagos state Nigeria

 Limitations of the study

This study was constrained by a number of factors which are as follows:

just like any other research, ranging from unavailability of needed accurate materials on the topic under study, inability to get data

Financial constraint , was faced by  the researcher ,in getting relevant materials  and  in printing and collation of questionnaires

Time factor: time factor pose another constraint since having to shuttle between writing of the research and also engaging in other academic work making it uneasy for the researcher.



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