Social Learning Theory: Child Support Services for Abused Children

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The social learning theory tries to explain how people pick characteristics or behaviors they are exposed to over time. This is especially true when it comes to children picking the behaviors of their parents or guardians due to the closeness (Erikson 1994, pp.39-42). The logic is that if a child is born to a family where the father is responsible and hardworking, the child takes this social background as the normal way of doing things and therefore turns out to be responsible too (Hensley & Singer 2004,pp.460-466). There are however isolated cases where children from organized families can turn out to be irresponsible due such reasons as negative influences from outside.

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The ethical concern in the Department of Job and Family services is the mistreatment of the child. This is the concern that forms the basis for the action that the department takes. It is not justifiable to watch as a child is subjected to unfair treatment by a parent or guardian who has parenting problems as a result of emotional disturbances emanating from drug abuse or too much consumption of alcohol. It is therefore ethical that the child be taken to a place where proper care can be availed. It is possible to have a point of view that opposes the taking away of the child from the parent on the grounds that the parent will be denied the opportunity to take care of his or her child. The argument however fails to make sense due to the fact that the child is being abused by the person who is supposed to be caring for him or her. It also puts the child in danger in that he or she may end up learning this behavior of abuse thus creating a cycle. In this cycle, the child will also turn out to be abusive when he grows up. Taking the child to a better environment while the parent or guardian is offered treatment for the problem is the best ethical move since it will result in the assistance of both the child and the parent or guardian.

The Impact of the action by the Department of Job and Family Services

To start with, the parent or guardian who will have been denied the opportunity to be with the child he or she is abusing will benefit in that he or she will be offered the chance to seek help for whatever problem he or she may be having. This will make him or her a better individual capable of leading a life characterized by order and direction. This is not something this parent or guardian can easily do if there is no intervention.

Secondly, the vicious cycle of violence or abuse as characterized by transmission from parent to child through social learning will have been broken. The fact that the child will be taken away and the parent advised to seek help will mean that the child will be subjected to a new orderly climate and the parent will become a better person such that when they are reconnected, they are in a position to lead a normal life. There may be no better way of breaking this cycle other than taking the child away and advising the parent or guardian to seek help.

Thirdly, the child who will have been detached from the parent will be assisted to lead a life that is free from both emotional abuse as well as physical abuse. This is obvious in that the parent will no longer be in a position to reach the child and inflict any form of abuse on him or her.

Impact on the Family unit

The family unit does not go unaffected in this whole saga. The impact has both an underside as well as an upper side. What does the family stand to benefit from the action taken by the department of job and family services?

First, the family will have benefitted through the protection given to the child. It is possible that the abuse inflicted on the child by the parent or guardian would have led to total destruction of the life of the child. But the fact that the child has been taken away to a place where he or she will have a normal life that is free from any form of abuse will give the child a chance to lead a successful life. In this manner, the life of the child is salvaged and in turn, the life of the family is affected positively though the help of the child, who is a member of the family.

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Leaving the above aside, the parent or guardian who will be require to seek help for the problems that may have made them to abuse the child will be able to get back to the right path after getting treatment or rehabilitation. Thus this parent or guardian will stand a better chance of not only taking care of the other members of the family but taking care of themselves. This is directly attached to the wellbeing of the family. What about the negative side of the move?

The move is negative in that it leads to the separation of family members. The parent or guardian will not have a chance of being close to the child and this will affect the growth and development of the child. It is obvious that the child will recognize the unusual happenings in his or her life in that as other children will be spending time with their parents, he or she will be under the care of a party that is not the parent. This can be a source of confusion and emotional distress for the child. But it is worth it in that the child will be safe from abuse.

Did the Department of Job and Family Services Apply the Social Learning Theory Properly?

The social learning theory simply asserts that people are able to pick aspects of behavior by witnessing what is happening around them (Bandura 1977, pp.25-27). This means that it is possible for the child of a parent who is abusive to later become abusive (Miller & Dollard 1941, pp.67-68) and (Siegel 2007, pp.110-111). Therefore the application of the social learning theory by the Department Of Job And Family Services is appropriate. The only area where there may be a discrepancy is when a child is brought up in an abusive family and grows to hate abuse. This is however not a common phenomenon.


In conclusion, it is evident that the social learning theory is at play in this case. The action recommended by the department of job and family services is helpful to both the parent and the child and is therefore morally sound.

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Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.

Erikson, E., (1994).Identity and the life Cycle. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Hensley, C. & Singer, S., (2004). Applying Social Learning Theory to Childhood and Adolescent Firesetting: Can it Lead to Serial Murder? International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 48 (4), 461-476.

Miller, N. & Dollard, J., (1941). Social Learning and Imitation. New York: Yale University Press.

Siegel, L., (2007). Criminology: The Core. New York: Cengage Learning.

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Premium Papers. "Social Learning Theory: Child Support Services for Abused Children." April 25, 2022.