Bonding and Attachment in Maltreated Children

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Lesson 4: What can I do to help?
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There are many other places to learn more about attachment and bonding in maltreated children.  A few starting places are listed below. 


Zero to Three is a national, nonprofit organization located in Washington, D.C., dedicated solely to advancing the healthy development of babies and young children.  Founded in l977 by top developmental experts, ZERO TO THREE disseminates key developmental information, trains providers, promotes model approaches and standards of practice and works to increase public awareness about the significance of the first three years of life.

734 15th Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 638-1144.
Homepage: http://www.zerotothree.com

PACT: A nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization begun by two adoptive parents in 1991, Pact has developed a national reputation for excellence in serving all members of the adoption triad. Each year, Pact offers educational events attended by more than 1500 individuals, provides - free of charge - over 1000 crisis consultations to birth parents, and consults with hundreds of potential adoptive parents. Top priority is given to programs especially designed to support and inform adopted children and adopted adults of color.

Pact, An Adoption Alliance
3450 Sacramento Street Suite 239
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 221-6957
(510) 482-2089 FAX
e-mail: info@pactadopt.org
Homepage: http://www.pactadopt.org

Attachment Parenting International is a coalition of concerned individuals, professionals, and grassroots organizations. They advocate special “attachment parenting” methods to develop and fulfill a child's need for trust, empathy, and affection in order to create secure and enduring relationships. This organization feels that attachment parenting, in conjunction with support groups can not only strengthen families but provide a simple and cost-effective model to aid in the prevention of child abuse, behavioral disorders, criminal acts, and other serious social problems. 

Attachment Parenting International
1508 Clairmont Place
Nashville, Tennessee 37215
(615) 298 4334

Homepage: http://www.attachmentparenting.org


Attachment:  A special form of emotional relationship.  Attachment involves mutuality, comfort, safety and pleasure for both individuals in the relationship.

Attunement:  The ability to read and respond to the communicated needs of another.  This involves synchronous and responsive attention to the verbal and non-verbal cues of another.

Bond:  A bond is a relationship.  Bonds may be of special mutual emotional nature such as an attachment or they may be based upon other emotions (e.g., fear – such as seen in the bond between captor and captive). 

Bonding:  Any activity, action or behavior that helps establish or maintain a relationship.  

Strange-Situation procedure:  A specialized clinical-research procedure involving eight separations and reunions with an infant and their caregiver designed to determine the nature of the attachments.

Getting Involved

Our society has been ineffective in preventing, identifying, and responding to the maltreatment of children. The impotence of our social systems to help children does not mean that you, as an individual, are powerless. Your actions can have dramatic impact on children in your community and, by supporting the efforts of effective organizations, your actions can impact thousands of children in this generation and in generations to follow.

There are many ways that you can choose to fight the maltreatment and trauma of children. Whatever method you choose, know that however small your effort seems, your participation is critical. In the end, unless we all participate in some fashion, we will always fall short of our true potential as individuals and as a society. Choose to help in a way that works for you. You may want to work directly with maltreated children, or you may choose to contribute in any variety of important ways. Please remember, you don't need to work directly with the child to be able to make a dramatic difference in their life.

Give Your Time

In your community, there are children that need the gift of attention, respect, instruction, comfort, and hope. So many children from abusive settings have lost hope. Even brief interactions with respectful, honest, and nurturing adults can be helpful to the abused or traumatized child, allowing them to know that adults can be kind.

There are many ways to find children who need your time. Volunteer to be a foster parent, to rock the crack-addicted infant in the hospital, to teach a child to read, to be an aide in the local public school, to answer phones at a battered women's shelter. In all of these settings, you can enrich the life of a child. You can give a child hope.

Give Your Skills

You may not realize how your skills can benefit maltreated children. Desperately underfunded child protection, child welfare, and child mental health systems can always benefit from the innovative use of your skills. A residential treatment center may need help with accounting or computer programming. A local children's shelter may not have a library.

A dancer can teach some foster children how to dance. A computer programmer can teach these children computer skills. A writer can write editorials/articles/books about these issues or help an agency create a newsletter. Your skills, whatever they are, can be used to fight abuse.

Give Your Money

In the United States, we spend more money on studying and treating abusers than we do on their child victims. Research, clinical services, and specialized professional training in child abuse are dramatically under-funded. You can help support these critical activities by financially supporting effective and innovative programs such as the ChildTrauma Academy.

Please direct donations to:

The ChildTrauma Academy
5161 San Felipe, Suite 320
Houston, Texas 77056

Checks should be made payable to "The ChildTrauma Academy."

As you give time, skills, or money to help these broken children, you may find that your life will be enriched and that hope has a new meaning for you. You can make a difference in the life of a child with your time, and in the lives of many children with your financial support. Choose to act.

Give Your Voice

Play a role in helping change the policies and practices that have allowed our society to ignore children. Remember, children don't vote. And far too many traumatized children have no effective adult advocacy. We allocate research and service-delivery dollars in the United States in a way that reflects political power. Maltreated children have no political power in this country, nor any other country.

Whenever you can, talk to the media. Talk with your local, state, and federal representatives to inform them and urge them to think about the future of our children. Write letters or send e-mails to make them aware of your concern. They all say that children are our future. Make them walk the walk and not just talk the talk.


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