Deprivationcan be described as thelack or denial of something considered to be a necessity, andby extension is considered a form of abuse or neglect. Deprivationinchildhood can be seen as living in a state of various forms ofneglect to provide basic needs – physical, emotional, or social.This essay will be looking at social deprivation which is a termdescribing the reduction or prevention of proper parental care orcontrol. This is a broadconcept which includes subsistence,education as required by law, or other care or control necessary forthechild’sphysical, mental, or emotional health.Thesocial and emotional development in children is a complex processwhich requires many factors for stimulation. One major factor issocial interaction. Healthydevelopment is influenced by factors such as access to lovingcaregivers, adequate nutrition, sensory and cognitive stimulation,and linguistic input.
Deprivationis often related to institutionalization, growing up in poverty, andparental problems (e.g. alcoholism or mental illness),studies have shown it cancause cognitive impairment and attachment disorder. Apaucity of social interactions with others can lead to less developedsocial skills, including the development of empathy and Theory ofMind. Lackof social input into a child, where caregivers do not interactsufficiently, nor explore personal and social aspects of livingeffectively, thisis often done through play, but also through modellingbehaviour of caregivers– encouragingchildren to care for teddies and dolls may help children develop anempathic response to others. Children who do not have manyopportunities toplay with other children can also struggle, theyfind it difficult to understand the point of view of others and donot learn to modify their behaviour to fit in with others. JohnBowlbywasa psychoanalyst who deviseda hypothesis regarding deprivation and separation in infants.Bowlby’s (1953)Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis proposedthat forat leastthe first two years of life, a nurturing, affectionate and continuousrelationship with a primary figure, oft-timesthe mother figure is imperative forhealthy psychological andemotional development.
Bowlbyset up the 44 thieves study (Bowlby 1944) which entailedhim gatheringsupporting evidence andretrospective datathroughinterviewing juvenile criminals,who had and had not been separated from their primary caregiver. Thestudy concluded that theconsequencesof maternal deprivation include: Aninability to form attachments in the future, affectionlesspsychopathy (inability to feel remorse), delinquency(behavioural problems in adolescence) andProblemswith Cognitive Development. Itis important to note that upon evaluation of the study, theresults are not concrete evidence, due to factors such asexperimenter bias and recalling memories may induce unintentionalfalsehoods.Althoughrare, there are a few known cases of extreme social deprivationincludingGenie the American feral child, who spent most of her childhood tiedto a children’s toilet and locked in a bedroom away from any socialinteraction. Another study is that ofVictor, the wild boy of Aveyron(c.1788-1828)a French feral boy who emergedfromthe woods of the Aveyron region in the late 1790s and, allegedly, wasraised by wolves.
Theboy was then around 12 years old and couldn’t speak any language.Uponfirst examination, the physicians speculated he may be deaf and mute,but oncehe was examined at the National Institute of the Deaf in Paris, theydetermined that he was ableto hear but perhaps he had never beheld any language.Severalresearchers, attempted to teach Victor French and somebasiccommunication, Victor didshow asmall amount ofprogress, he appearedto be uninterested in learning, often hyperactive and aggressive.Victorwas putundertheclose supervision ofJean Itard (a young medical doctor)whoeventuallymanaged to teachhimseveral phrases and some social conventions, likewearing clothes, whichVictor embraced,but, sadly,never became a fully functional member of society.
Toconclude, deprivation of any kind in childhood is seriousand negative,particularly,socialdeprivation influences cognitive and emotional development whichprovokesdetrimental consequences for the child.It is also important to acknowledge that allthe effectsof deprivation this essay hasdiscussed are likely to be perpetuated into the next generations.Parents who do not know how to play or empathise or communicateeffectively without aggression or contain their emotions effectively,because of a deprivation in these areas when they were children, areless likely to enable their own children to have these skills aswell.