Attachment and bonding: a sample lesson;Subject of the week;Social sciences

19th February 1999 at 00:00
Smuggling drugs into Britain is big business. To deter customs officers, smugglers have been sending young mothers with their babies into the country carrying the drugs.

Being caught has disastrous consequences, as shown by the following examples: Sara, from West Africa, was caught and sentenced to three years' imprisonment in this country. Tom, her six-month-old baby, was handed over at the airport to a social worker who immediately made arrangements to have him fostered. When Tom was taken back to Sara at the end of her sentence, he cried uncontrollably at being parted from his foster parents. Tom and Sara were sent back to their country of origin.

In a similar incident, Mary was also sentenced for the same period. Her 18-month-old daughter Lucy was with her, and Dave was the social worker who picked Lucy up into his arms as she watched her mother being taken away. She immediately buried her head into Dave's shoulder, and clung to him silently all the time he was telephoning to make arrangements for her care. He drove her to her new home, and when he had to leave she was extremely distressed.

Although Tom settled quite easily into his foster home, Lucy had considerable problems.

Suggested questions 1 Why do you think Tom settled into his new home but Lucy did not?

2 What evidence is there here that mothers should keep their children with them in prison?

3 Would both of the children have been better off if they had stayed with their mothers?

4 What alternatives were there for the care of the children?

5 What long-term consequences do you think there might be for the children?

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