Behavioral and Developmental Issues Among Foster Children

If you've had a chance to learn a little about Guitars not Guns you know by now that we exist solely to help foster children and other at-risk youth by deterring them away from negative influences such as drugs, alcohol, violence, and more. Our objective is to train their focus on the positive things in life to help give them a foundation for long-term success. And yes, we do this through playing guitar.

As I was doing some research on this particular topic, I came across a very comprehensive report compiled by the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics that really told a story about the behavioral and developmental issues faced by children in foster care (you can see the entire report here).

Why are these children at risk?

According to the report, there are multiple factors that put foster children at-risk for behavioral and/or developmental issues:

  1. "Children with developmental and emotional disabilities have an increased vulnerability to maltreatment."
  2. "Many of these children display a number of documented environmental risk factors for developmental and behavioral problems. Before their placement in care, these children have been abused or neglected; many have been raised in environments of poverty or violence. Compared with their peers, they are more likely to have parents with mental illness or drug/alcohol dependency, to have been exposed to prenatal and maternal substance abuse in utero, and to have received inadequate preventive health care.
  3. Simply, "most have experienced poor parenting."
  4. "The experiences of abuse and neglect, coupled with multiple placement changes, can further exacerbate or alter a child's developmental trajectory."

The report also states that "the developmental and mental health problems experienced by the majority of young children in foster care significantly affect the success of foster care placements and the ability of these children to contribute positively to their communities later in life."

Our volunteer guitar teachers in the Guitars not Guns Music Program are not mental health professionals, nor do we pretend to be. But, we do recognize that these issues exist and that's what drives us to want to help.

We've heard stories from parents across the nation confirming that our program has helped their children to be more focused in life and have helped them improve in school among other things. Yes, we really do believe that playing the guitar (or any instrument for that matter) can be therapeutic and can help instill positivity and focus into a child's life.

We really believe in the mission and we hope you do, too!

Ryan Countrymen – GNGAZ

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