If you’ve ever heard of orphans or abandoned children, you may have a difficult time understanding the true reality behind these stories. The plight of abandoned children is far more complex than just a few stories. Many children, often from remote villages, are taken to a city or a busy street corner, where they are told to wait for their momma to return. Momma never returns. Other children are carried to the wild or deep into the forest, where they risk being thrown out of sight of their mothers and fathers. Some are even taken to orphanages, or adopted by strangers who take care of them.
Adolescents tend to react to abandonment with anger and resentment. Moreover, this experience can disrupt learning and academic success. In addition, anxiety can result in poor concentration, which can impact school performance. Intense thoughts about the child’s abandonment can also lead to feelings of loneliness and self-blame. Additionally, children at this age tend to focus on the negative aspects of their lives, including financial troubles and family problems. These feelings can affect relationships with classmates and with their peers.
Stories of abandoned children are also common in the ancient world. Many ancient Greek and Roman tales contain descriptions of children left to die. A mother often hid the child in the hills, and an adult will eventually find him. The child will later marry his biological mother, and the family will never know the fact that he was abandoned. It’s impossible to know how these stories came to be, but we do know that they are not the only ones who suffer from child abandonment.
Children who are abandoned are vulnerable and at a great risk of suffering from emotional dependency and low self-esteem. People who abandon their children may face felony and misdemeanor penalties. While laws regarding abandoning children vary, many states include it in their child abuse laws. Others have a separate law targeting this offense. However, in most states, abandoning a child is classified as a felony and carries a strict penalty.
In the 1970s, a rising divorce rate brought the issue of abandoned children to the forefront of the public conversation. In some jurisdictions, physical custody was given to mothers while fathers were given visitation rights. Fathers were given financial responsibility, but many men refused to accept this responsibility. In these situations, fathers’ neglect can lead to the child being abandoned. By understanding the mechanisms of child abandonment, it can help guide effective interventions to protect the interests of both parties.
The history of abandoned children is a rich and diverse subject. The study of foundlings and abandoned children is related to the history of families, charity, and public welfare. Up until the early 21st century, no monograph or edited volume has provided an overview of this phenomenon. The geographical and chronological depth of the topic vary widely, but Panter-Brick and Smith’s 2000 monograph presents an overview of abandoned children across a wide range of contexts.