Child Development and The Ecological Theory Essay

Child Development and The Ecological Theory Essay

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Bronfenbrenner’s (1977, 1979, 1989, 1993, 1994) ecological theory suggested that child (human) development occurs for the child within the context of various environments. These environments, or systems, are influenced from within and between other environments. The individuals within each system influence each other through various transactions that occur between them.

In ecological theory, these systems are nested with the child at the core, embedded within his/her immediate family environment. The system with the closest proximity to the child is the microsystem; this includes the child and family, peers, neighborhood and school. A critical impact on development occurs within the immediate environment of the child due to proximal processes, transactions and interactions, that operate to produce and sustain development. This is particularly relevant when considering maladaptive development and disorders occurring in children. Based on this theory it can be assumed that dysfunction in children occurs as a byproduct of the microsystem.

The mesosystem surrounding the microsystem is representative of the relationships that occur between two or more settings containing the developing child. An example is the relational interactions between caregiver and school, or school and day care. The mesosystem is an environment, or system, of microsystems (1994)

The Exosystem represents mostly indirect, but at times direct, influences of the extended community on the child. These include law enforcement, social services, and religious communities, and a caregiver’s work setting. These are processes occurring between two or more settings, at least one of which does not include the child, thereby indirectly influencing the child by affecting...


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... occurrence of child maltreatment. These are explained as potentiating factors, which increase risk for probability of maltreatment; and compensatory factors, which decrease the risk for maltreatment. They can either be enduring, relatively permanent, or transient factors, which are shorter in duration or intermittent. These may involve child, parental, or environmental characteristics and may be biological, historical, psychological, or sociological in nature (1998).

Lynch and Cicchetti proposed that maladaption more likely occurred when vulnerability and potentiating risk factors outweighed protective and buffering compensatory influences. However, they determined it was not the absence or the presence of potentiating, risk, or compensatory, protective, factors that provided a specific outcome, but rather their dynamic interaction that were significant (1998).



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