Self-efficacy and vocational decision making of high school students within child protection institutions and high school students of the general population. A comparative study

Issue 30

“Self-efficacy and vocational decision making of high school students within child protection institutions and high school students of the general population. A comparative study”

Sagri Alexandra-Maria, Gena Aggeliki, Anastasios Asvestas

Pages 12 – 30

This work is a comparative study of the general population of high school students and institutional care teenagers in terms of career decision-making strategies and self-efficacy. The institution of the family, its structure and its importance is a cornerstone for the forging of the personality of the young person from childhood to adulthood. There are multiple factors that may affect family cohesion. They are divided into internal and external factors. Internal ones are the absence of communication between members, a sudden health problem, while external ones are unemployment or a disaster. These factors may lead to serious domestic conflicts and even violence. In the event of the creation of adverse conditions for the living conditions of children within their natural family, the care and protection of children is undertaken by the Child Protection Structures. It is defined as all actions taken by social workers and/or other rofessionals to safeguard the rights or protect children from intentional harm or neglect. The reasons for their admission to child protection services relate to social problems such as child abandonment, health problems or sudden death, addictions, mental illness and other personal difficulties, economic difficulties such as poverty, unemployment, lack of housing and economic rises. Finally, there are legal reasons, such as domestic violence or child abuse (either by parents or relatives). The effects of care on children’s development, according to a study, are mental retardation, loss of concentration, impaired emotional relationships, lack of developmental potential and inability to integrate into society. Child protection structures cannot provide individualised care to children and because of their separation from their family environment, they are left with a traumatic experience, regardless of their age. Of particular importance was the severing of the bond with the mother. The frequent turnover of persons within the institution and the inability to form an emotional bond with an adult person leads to the “philosophy of
least expectation”, where they stop getting better and develop emotional disorders. Institutions, by replacing the role of the family, feed the syndrome of “institutionalism”. In adulthood the impact on their life organisation and psychosocial functioning is significant, making their childhood experiences of major importance. Career guidance within child protection structures creates a safe and supportive environment, children gain a better understanding of themselves and are greatly helped both in their behaviour and in the way they perceive things around them, identifying and realising their potential. However, it requires first and foremost solving complex problems that they have faced from an early age, building a relationship of trust with the Counsellor. Differences in adolescents’ professional decision-making within and outside child protection units are presented and interventions are proposed to solve the aforementioned difficulties they face within institutional care. The findings of the present study showed that emotional deficits are greater than in the general population, confirming the literature, experiences played a key role in their personality development, they have difficulty expressing their feelings and do not seek support from any adult within the institution. However, the good
thing is that in the decision-making process they are not driven by dysfunctional thoughts and rely on their own strengths. The study may instigate further research about the emotional needs of children in institutional care, and the support they need, as they already come from impoverished environments.

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