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Place matters: The significance of place attachments for children's well-being

Summary


Place attachments are important to children’s well-being

The purpose of this article by Gordon Jack was to review evidence about the important relationship between place attachments and children’s well-being. He notes, in setting the context, that children’s attachment to people is widely studied. He makes the case that children’s attachment to place is also critically important to children’s healthy development and overall well-being.

Jack discusses the meaning of place and place attachments and how place attachments develop in children. Jack also reviews evidence about how children use space, the various influences (from individual to family and community) on children’s use of space, and how use of space affects place attachments. He then discusses studies that have found significant declines in children’s independent mobility or freedom to use their local environment and factors contributing to this decline. Jack highlights three social policy approaches (laissez-faire, service-oriented, and space-oriented) and related programs in the UK and their impacts on children’s independent use of their local environments, asserting that space-oriented approaches are generally the most beneficial to children’s development of healthy attachments to place. In the last section of this review, the author discusses the importance of place attachments for children who are in the social-care system and the lack of current focus on children’s attachments to place in favor of attachments to people. Importantly, Jack provides suggestions on how people working with children in the social system can better support their place attachments and well-being.

Jack urges support for policies and programs that, “view children and young people as capable of shaping their own lives; aim to improve the safety of local areas for children’s play, exploration and
social interaction; develop the understanding of local people about children’s needs, enabling
them to strike a balance between their protection and freedom; and help communities to accept shared responsibility for children’s well-being.”

Citation

Jack, G., (2010). Place matters: The significance of place attachments for children's well-being. British Journal of Social Work, 40(3), 755-771.

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