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Sense of belonging in children from fractured families in disadvantaged communities

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All children need to grow up with a sense of belonging and security in order to maintain healthy relationships later in life (Erikson, 1969:239; McWhirten, 2007:189; Toerien, 2001:31). Belonging is a basic human need that has to be met before certain other needs, such as self-actualisation and self-esteem, can be fulfilled (Erikson, 1969:238; Maslow, 1970:43; Max-Neef, 1991:33). A lack of a sense of belonging leads to feelings of rejection, loneliness and an inability to engage in future relationships (Ding & Littleton, 2005:i). Children who do not experience this sense of belonging can easily become involved in gangster activities, promiscuity or substance dependence in order to secure a false sense of belonging (Brendtro, Brokenleg & Van Bockern, 2002:9). Ideally, this need for belonging should be fulfilled within the primary family situation. However, the reality is that many children in South Africa do not live in what is generally regarded as the primary family, namely a family with two parents (Holborn & Eddy, 2011:1), but come from fractured families. Children from fractured families in disadvantaged communities have more complex needs to be met in order to feel secure (Ding & Littleton, 2005:iii; Holborn & Eddy, 2011:7; Minuchin, Colapinto & Minuchin, 2007:10; Toerien, 2001:31; Yuen, 2005:7).
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