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Two Boys, Similar Backgrounds, Different Outcomes: Why?

Two Boys, Similar Backgrounds, Different Outcomes: Why?

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Published by Jane Gilgun

Two boys from similar backgrounds: one becomes a contributing member of society and the other a prison inmate. What makes the difference in these two lives? This article show how close relationships with other people and the rejection of pro-violence beliefs go hand-in-hand in helping children overcome risks for violent behaviors.

Two boys from similar backgrounds: one becomes a contributing member of society and the other a prison inmate. What makes the difference in these two lives? This article show how close relationships with other people and the rejection of pro-violence beliefs go hand-in-hand in helping children overcome risks for violent behaviors.

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Published by: Jane Gilgun on Nov 17, 2009
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TwoBoys,SimilarBack‐grounds:OneGoesToPrisonandOneDoesNot:Why?
JaneF.Gilgun,Ph.D.,LICSW
JaneF.Gilgun,Ph.D.,LICSW,isaprofessor,SchoolofSocialWork,UniversityofMinnesota,TwinCities,USA.SeeProfes‐sorGilgun’sotherarticles,books,andchildren’sstoriesonAmazonKindle,scribd.com/professorjane,andstores.lulu.com/jgilgun
 
TwoBoys,SimilarBackgrounds:OneGoestoPrisonandoneDoesNot:Why?
icturetwoboysgrowingupinthesameneighborhood.Bothare10,liveinmiddle‐classneighborhoods,areintelligent,andwitnessedtheirfathersbeatingtheirmothers.Theirfathersbeatbothofthem.Bothexperi‐encedsexualabuse.ThepersonwhosexuallyabusedRobwashisfather.ThepersonwhosexuallyabusedMartywasanolderkidintheneighborhood.Onewillgrowintoresponsibleadulthood:optimistic,alov‐inghusbandandfather,andadependableemployee.Theotherwillbecomeaprisoninmate.Whatcreatesthedifferenceinthesetwolives?
Rob:TrustinOthers
RobconfidedinafriendnamedPetewhenhisfatherbeathimandwhenhehadworriesaboutschool,friendships,andmoney.HelearnedfromPete’sfatherhowtofixelectronicequipment.Hetriedtobelikehisfriend’sfather.HelikedschoolandenjoyedplayingwithotherkidsatschoolandintheneighborhoodAsRobgrewolder,hiscircleoffriendswidened.Hedevel‐opedhopesanddreamsforthefuture.Hekeptadiarywhereherecordedsecretstuffabouthistroublesinhisfam‐ily,hisfeelingsforgirls,andhowhisdaywent.Hegotdrunkatapartywhenhewas16anddidn’tlikethefeelingofbeingoutofcontrol.Afterthathedrankonlyoccasionally,andnottoomuch.Asayoungadult,Robsoughtprofessionalhelpforhisfeel‐ingsofanger,sadness,andfrustrationabouttheabuseheexperiencedasachild.
P
 
Marty:BrokenTrust
Marty,attheageofeight,confidedinateacherthathisfatherbeathim.Healsowantedtotelltheteacherabouttheolderboyintheneighborhoodwhosexuallyabusedhim,buthethoughthewouldwaittoseehowtheteacherhandledthenewsofhisphysicalabuse.Theteachercalledhisfather,whosaidhehadneverbeatenMarty.WhenMartygothomefromschool,hisfatherbeathimfortellingtheteacher.Martyneverconfidedinanyoneagain.Instead,hetriedtobetough,likemenhesawinvideogamesandonTV.Theydidn’tfeelhurtorhelpless.Theytookwhattheywanted.Theywereincharge.Bytheageof10,Martywasstealingfromstoresandharass‐ingotherchildren,physicallyandsexually.HewasdoingpoorlyinschoolAt11,hejoinedagroupwhostoleandsometimesattackedothers,vandalizedproperty,andusedalcoholanddrugs.Martytoldhimselfhewashavingfun.At14,Martywasinajuvenilecorrectionalcenter.Fiveyearslater,hewasconvictedandsentencedto12yearsinprisonforcriminalsexualconduct.
SimilarRisks,DifferentOutcomes
Aschildren,RobandMartywerebothatriskforcommittingviolentacts.Onehadon‐goingrelationshipswithpeoplehetrustedandinwhomheconfidedpersonal,sensitiveinfor‐mation.Doingsohelpedhimfeelbetter.Positiveexperiencesandrelationshipswereprotectivefactors.Martyhadsomeprotectivefactors,butapile‐upofriskfac‐torsoverwhelmedthem.Hislifemighthavebeenfardifferenthadtherebeenearlyandeffectiveresponsestohisreportofphysicalabuseathome.

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Jane Gilgun added this note
Even siblings can have different responses to tragedy. Even identical twins do. Environmental influences have a lot to do with how people respond to adversities and other life challenges.
Al added this note
how about two sibling from a grief stricken home and their response to the death of their oldest sibling? Rachel & Mary
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