Home and Homeland: Displaced Children and Youth

Children have a right to be at home and to have a homeland. This right flows from their need to be anchored somewhere psychologically, to be part of something stable and enduring, something larger than themselves where they can feel a non-contingent sense of belonging. When this right is violated and this need unmet, children are adrift, and in being adrift they are candidates for losing their way in the world.

Children live in and through their “social maps.” Each such map is both the product of past experience and the cause of future actions. Some children see themselves as powerful, secure countries, surrounded by allies. Others see themselves as poor little islands, surrounded by an empty ocean or hostile enemies.

Such representations of the world reflect a child’s intellectual ability—the cognitive competence of knowing the world in an objective sense—but they also indicate moral and emotional inclinations. Children develop social maps, and then they live by them—as we saw in Chapter 4, where we looked at how the social maps of abused children can put them on the fast track to conduct disorder. In early childhood, the outlines of these social maps begin to emerge. What we commonly call “attachment” is the first such map. It reflects the way an infant understands the social environment. Some infants have a strong, positive map of attachment, and live a life of responsiveness and security. For them the social map of attachment provides a foundation for exploration—physically and emotionally—because it provides a secure base of human operations, a secure mini-homeland.


Cultural Identity Future Orientation Homeland Security Positive Identity Public Housing Project 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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