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The multiple roles of the school as a protective factor for children in post-war communities in Croatia

The multiple roles of the school as a protective factor for children in post-war communities in Croatia

The aim of this study was to explore the role of the school as a factor of providing support and building resilience in children and their parents living in a post-war community in Croatia. This is a community of displaced persons, refugees and returnees, burdened with unresolved ethnic tensions, and extremely disadvantaged economically. Children in this community demonstrate a range of developmental difficulties (emotional and cognitive) and maladaptive behaviors (acting out, scholastic failure). Parents, themselves burdened with the difficult circumstances, are not able to respond adequately to the needs of their children. State services have as of yet been unable to provide sufficient resources for the reconstruction of this community. The school has been hypothesized to be a prominent factor of resilience in the area.

Data were gathered through community work with elementary school children. ln-depth interviews with children were conducted. Heteroanamnestic data on children were collected at the school. Parents completed questionnaires concerningthe socio-demographic status of the families. Results show that the school is a strong protective factor for the children. As the most important resources they receive from the school, children report warm meals. Teachers are an important source of emotional warmth and support for the children. The school is often the only source of structure and adequate social models. Several case studies will be presented. ln conclusion, the school is a strong factor of support for these children, fulfilling both their educational, as well as emotional and social needs.

Speakers: Jana Dusper
Conference: Demo
Areas of Interest / Categories: Refugee Issues, Resilience