WHAT IS AN AT-RISK CHILD

Children have often been labelled as at-risk with a variety of many pointers ranging from having experienced abuse or mistreatment, having disabilities or illness or having exhibited one form of behavioral problems or the other.

Nonetheless, we can define an at-risk child as a child that has a slight probability of positive transition into adulthood. Positive transition could be the ability to be independent and be a positive member of the society avoiding the negative vices such as a life of crime or delinquency.

There are several factors that makes a child being identified as at-risk and these factors influences negatively successful transition into adulthood. For instance, children who come from poverty stricken families often tend to be stigmatized by peers and this in turn spurs some kind of negative responses from them leading to engage in delinquent behaviors and are less likely to have a smooth transition into adulthood.

Research has shown that there is an increased rate of crime, unwanted pregnancies and drop out among the low income families and all these tendencies identifies the children that find themselves in this category at-risk.

Also, we have socio-cultural factors which includes single parenthood, family breakdown, divorce, remarriage and ethnic bias. Children of parents that are divorced, separated or remarried have been place in a state of dejection and neglect which may lead to psychological problems and this in turn encourage them to start displaying bad traits as result of their predicament. As a result, their effective transition into an adult becomes shattered. Many a times, these children are lured into delinquent acts.

Similarly, another reason why children are labelled as at-risk is a result of abuse and violence. Children are often times exposed to physical and sexual abuse which may include torture, rape or even slavery. As a result of conditions such as improper care and support by their parents probably due to breakdown or divorce, the children suffer abuse of different kinds. This prompts negative behavioral responses in the child.

Furthermore, children who suffer from one form of disability or illness or the other are considered at-risk because they tend to have a low self-esteem and disregard of their present state. These children with disabilities are sometimes exposed to maltreatment, bullying and abuse from peers or older ones and this in turn leads to depression and neglect.

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