Social Function

How we learn to interact and socialize begins at a very early age. Children's social and behavioral abilties - and problems - in eary childhood development can be indicators of success or concern in later life. Studies in social functioning indicate that indiviuals with problems in social functioning can experience poor impulse control, difficulties following direction and problems with conforming to rules. In some cases this can lead to aggression. A recent study (Vandell 2003) found that family factors, as well as external child care experiences at the pre-school age can predict the level of the child's social functioning.

As we mature into adulthood we continue to build on from these earlier social skills, and as life circumstances change we develop "adult" social skills. These can be best summarized into 7 different social skills.

  1. self-reliance or independence; the ability to live independently, cook and care for oneself, personal hygene and maintaining a home
  2. financial management; ability to arrange your personal finances to pay bills, develop credit and finance major purchases
  3. social and community skills; this skill includes the ability to be sensitive to the needs and moods of others, the level of self esteem and feelings of self-worth and responding appropriately to criticism or to rise above a negative experience
  4. employability: the confidence to seek and maintain employment and to interact with co-workers, ability to resolve workplace conflicts
  5. friendships and intimacy: ability to develop long lasting friendships or relationships, understanding  intimacy and ability to effectively communicate in these relationships
  6. parenting: ability to bond,  and meet the emotional and developmental needs of children, ability to communicate, relate and effectively discipline children
  7. life planning; the ability to set goals and work towards meeting future needs, optimism about life and general happiness with personal accomplishments

Assessing and reporting the social skills of the offender provides the Courts with a more wholisitic picture of the person appearing before the Courts. 

It is important to remember that the indicators of social functioning can be very different for Aboriginal people and the community they live in. Aboriginal Jusitce Workers may need to take some time to explain how the offenders social function relates to that of other communty members to the Court.