International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

A Systematic Review of Contextual Factors and Self-Injurious Behavior of Foster Care Youth
Jackson de Carvalho, PhD; Felix O. Chima, PhD

Self-injurious behaviors (SIBS) defined as "any socially unaccepted behavior involving deliberate and direct physical harm to one's own body without the intent to die as a result of the behavior itself' (Claes, Vandereycken, & Vertommen, 2005, p. 1 1) has been the focus of research and writings in professional literature over the past several decades (Trepal & Wester, 2007). An aggregate of factors may be responsible for the self-injurious behavior of foster care youth such as: the significant role of early childhood exposure to trauma, abuse, and/or maltreatment, disrupted parental attachments and exposure to domestic violence on subsequent acts of self-injury (van der Kolk, Perry, & Herman, 1991).Nevertheless, self-injury is one of the most puzzling and least understood human behaviors; it has generated a great deal of false beliefs and stigmatization among the general population. The purpose of this paper is to help educate foster care parents and professionals working with individuals who self-injure. This paper will discuss the history of foster care and the characteristics of youth in today's foster care system. More specifically, the mental health needs of these youth will be explored, as well as the numerous factors that place them at risk for engaging in self-injurious behaviors. Additionally, self-injurious behaviors will be discussed to provide an understanding of this mental health issue and the various systemic barriers that make it difficult for youth in care to access adequate and consistent mental health services.

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