The Dykeman article contains the results of a study whose purpose was to study the effects of pre- referral tertiary intervention in reducing acting out behaviors of students that had been referred for special education due to behavioral difficulties that had been as a result of the effects of their parents divorcing (Dykeman, 2003). The study included an intervention program with custodial parents of children whose parents had divorced in the recent past, in order to find out if the intervention program would assist to improve classroom behavior for these children.
According to U.S. Bureau of Census (1996) report, a third of American children will experience divorce before they turn 18 years of age. Studies have shown and proved that parent’s divorce may have a negative effect on the child’s academic performance. The effects will vary and will depend on the child’s age, sex of the child, the strength of the family bond, and how the divorcing parents will cooperate during the dissolution of the marriage (Dacey & Travers, 2002). The divorce will affect the child emotionally creating anxiety, guilt depression. The adjustment process will affect the child’s emotional stability and self esteem, affecting the academic performance. Various studies have shown that the cooperation of the parents and the non- custodial parent’s access rights will have a more serious effect on the child, whereby the classroom work drops substantially.
The school counseling services are a great help by offering primary and secondary interference to prevent the effects of divorce from affecting the child’s academic performance and by referring them to institutes where they can get more advanced assistance to cope. The school counselors will usually refer the students to community agencies or for special education evaluation.
The study involved 15 students, age averaging 13.1 years, from five junior high schools, who were in seventh or eighth grade and whose parents had recently divorced. Among the 15 students 13 were male and two were female; eight were Caucasian four Hispanics and three were Afro-Americans. The study involved the custodial parents and the child who would receive an intervention program from a counselor on conflict-resolution model in a family setting. The custodial parents involved were 13 mothers and two fathers of mixed education standards. The offered conflict resolution included methods on how to resolve problems that had led to the child’s acting-out behavior in school. The counselor offered ways on how to recognize and interpret the onset of a possible conflict, how to deal with provocation and how to involve others in the conflict resolution. The counselor met with the dyad on a weekly basis for one and a half hours session. The child’s teacher was to record the students behavior during the study period. The students were to take Conflict Tactic Scale, Reasons subscale and Aggression subscale as pretests at the beginning of the study and again at the end of the study. The study was to last three months for each student but different school years raging 1998 to 2001.
The results of the study indicated an improvement in verbal reasoning and a reduced use of verbal aggression. There was an improvement in classroom behavior which was concurrent with the increase in reasoning, as per what the teachers had recorded. There was however no reduction in physical aggression. The treatment unit was the custodial parent and child while the principle treatment objective was the interpersonal conflict between child and parent. Both were however advised to convey what their internal conflict was. It was discovered that the parent’s internal conflict was how to express love for the child and disapproval for the child’s use of verbal aggression and negative behavior. The child’s internal conflict was the difficult in expressing feelings on the parent’s divorce.
The results of the study let to the following conclusions. First, it is important to the child for the custodial parents to maintain some consistency and coordination and to continue monitoring the child’s action after the dissolution (Hines, 1997). Secondly, the community interference in primary, secondary and tertiary levels is important in helping the children while adjusting to the parents’ divorce. The community interference can be through treatments of cognitive, effective and behavioral consequences. The results of the study indicate that the community agency counselor can be of help to schools in helping children of divorced parents to cope with the effects of the divorce. They also indicate the effect of divorced parents on the child’s education can be minimized when parent and child apply conflict theory at home, by using rational when resolving conflicts, reducing verbal aggression at home, and a reduction in acting-out behavior in school. These results signify that the number of students from divorced families that are refereed to special education can be reduced through pre-referral interference. This proved what has always been known and what psychotherapy has recognized, the importance a family perception in therapy.
Statistical Shortcomings and Assumptions
The study had statistical limitations as the population sample was not enough to represent children from different age groups or children from different backgrounds or children who may have been brought up by different parents. The results failed to be specific on if the effects of pre-referral tertiary treatment would be different if the custodial parents are fathers or mothers. The sampling had only 2 male custodial parents. This may not be an enough population from which to draw conclusive findings from. Again the study population was imbalanced since the sample of students only included 13 male students and 2 female students. The study concluded its results with the assumption that pre-referral tertiary intervention had the same effect on the child’s performance in class, regardless if they were boys or girls. Another assumption in the study is the dyad mix in the study. The study involved a community resolution to each dyad from the selected families. The results however, did not indicate if the effect would be the same if the sexes of the parent-child were different. Would the results have been different if the dyad was made of father/daughter, mother/daughter or father/son or mother/son?
There was also the assumption of age effect. The population sampled children at an average age of 13.1 years of age. The study here assumed that the effects would be the same for all the age groups. This may not be so especially when one puts into consideration the fact that the selected age group is at the onset of teenage hood. The effects of divorce may conflict with the usual teenage hood characteristics. The sampled age group cannot be a representative of the children of all ages. A larger population, in terms of age, sex, dyad mix and race would have been more representative to achieve more reliable results.
In conclusion the study proved that there is reduction of verbal aggression while at the same time there is improvement in verbal reasoning. The students have as the time improved on their reasoning and behavior while they are in class according to the recording which was done by the teacher. However, there was some noted conflict between the parents and children which is the main objective why there is need to resolve the conflicts by conveying what there conflicts were.