Facilitating sense of belonging of children in fractured families from disadvantaged communities utilising bibliotherapeutic techniques
To belong somewhere is a basic human need. It is necessary for the psychological well-being of children to feel that they belong to a family, group and community and that they are loved and appreciated for who they are. A lack of a sense of belonging may cause children to find acceptance and belonging in destructive behaviour or groups. Children from fractured families who live in disadvantaged communities face more challenges than children who have easy access to education, health services and emotional support systems. Caregivers in these circumstances have a daily battle to survive and to keep their children safe. They do not always have the necessary knowledge to be aware of the children’s emotional needs, or the ability and means to fulfil in these needs. Social workers who render services to these families do not always have the time or aids to assist the children to enhance their sense of belonging or to enable the caregivers to strengthen the bond between them and the children. The overall goal of this study was to determine how bibliotherapeutic techniques can be utilised by caregivers and social workers to enhance a sense of belonging in children in their middle childhood years from fractured families in disadvantaged communities. In order to reach this goal, the way in which children from fractured families in disadvantaged communities experienced their sense of belonging was explored, as well as how the children, their caregivers and social workers perceived the social capital in the community. The content of a strategy that focuses on the uses of bibliotherapeutic techniques for children in fractured families from disadvantaged communities in order to enhance their sense of belonging was also determined, as well as ways in which such a strategy could be implemented by the social workers and the caregivers. The research findings suggested that children did not always have a sense of belonging with their primary caregivers and that the caregivers were unaware of the emotional needs of the children. The children expressed a need for playful interactions, nurturing and to listen to stories with their caregivers. Due to the caregivers’ lack of insight in the emotional needs of the children and illiteracy in some cases, a training programme that focussed on the importance of a sense of belonging and practical ways in which they can interact with the children to strengthen the emotional bond between them, was created and tested. The caregivers and children were able to identify schools, neighbours and churches as potential social capital in the community. Ways in which the social capital in the community could be utilised were suggested. Bibliotherapeutic techniques for the use of social workers to enhance a sense of belonging in the children were compiled and then tested by social workers. Both the training program and the bibliotherapeutic techniques proved to be useful and effective and will be disseminated for the use of social workers in their services with children and caregivers in disadvantaged communities.
- Humanities