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A Canadian Catastrophe: The Effect Of Residential Schools On Aboriginal Parenting

1537 words - 7 pages

diagnostic criteria for PTSD (Corrado and Cohen 2003). These high rates of PTSD, directly attributed to the trauma experienced within residential schools, provide strong evidence for a link between PTSD and the Canadian residential school system. The prevalence of PTSD has a direct impact on the absence of effective parenting skills in the Aboriginal community, as it often influences behaviors such as alcohol abuse and spousal abuse, which in turn set negative precedents for children growing up.
Often used as a coping mechanism to deal with PTSD, alcohol abuse throughout modern Aboriginal culture proves to be a major cause for concern. According to a report by Health Canada (2003), 79 ...view middle of the document...

Regardless of the underlying reasons for alcohol abuse, it has become a key issue in the problem of Aboriginal parenting practices.
PTSD and alcohol abuse, occurring either independently or in conjunction with one another, can produce adverse and potentially harmful behavior. Spousal abuse, which holds close ties to both PTSD and alcohol abuse, is perhaps the single most detrimental behavior associated to poor parenting practices. Spousal abuse requires a process of learning; abusive behavior is learned through a process of observation of the people surrounding us. While attending residential schools, Aboriginal children were subject to vast amounts of abuse; students were subjected to severe punishments in instances of minor infractions and disobedience, were often malnourished as a result of food rations, and despite condemnation from the church, sexual abuse was common (Robertson 2006). As a result of these experiences, as Aboriginal children attending these institutions matured into adults, they carried with them the memories of these experiences, and regarded them as portrayals of appropriate behavior. In the book From Truth to Reconciliation: Transforming the Legacy of Residential Schools, it’s declared that “residential school attendance, particularly when accompanied by physical and sexual abuse, has been linked to problems of alcoholism, drug abuse, powerlessness, dependency, low self-esteem, suicide, prostitution, gambling, homelessness, sexual abuse, violence, and, as this paper argues, missing and murdered women” (Castellano et al. 2008:126). Thus, a correlation is drawn between attendance in residential schools, and the violent characteristics that the victims of this abuse have continued to carry with them. In addition, a study conducted by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (2005), reported that rates of spousal homicide are 18 times greater among Aboriginal men, than among non-Aboriginal men. This study indicates the impact of the residential school system, and the resulting trauma accompanying it, leads to the escalation of violence beyond that of spousal abuse, and is a potential cause in incidents of homicide.
When considering alcohol abuse as a factor, countless studies and reports have drawn links between rates of alcohol consumption and spousal abuse. The same study that reported substantially higher rates of spousal abuse among aboriginal men, also found that 6 percent of people whose spouse is a frequent and heavy drinker experience spousal abuse (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics 2005). Taking into consideration a report discussed earlier in this paper, the study conducted by Health Canada (2003), which found that 79 percent of Aboriginals suffer from alcohol abuse, the rate of spousal abuse among Aboriginals due to alcohol abuse can be determined. If this statistic is used in conjunction with the fact that 6 percent of people who abuse alcohol commit acts of spousal abuse (Canadian Centre for Justice...

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