In Nina Bernstein's The Lost Children of Wilder, what organizations discussed in the story affect the children? Are the organizations featured in the book empowering or disempowering children and...

In Nina Bernstein's The Lost Children of Wilder, what organizations discussed in the story affect the children? Are the organizations featured in the book empowering or disempowering children and to what extent?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Many different foster care institutions are severely criticized in Nina Bernstein's book The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care. Below are a few ideas to help get you started.

One institution that is criticized is the New York Foundling Home, which flagrantly discriminated against black children, even taking foundlings to the Museum of Natural History "to be examined and classified by its resident anthropologist" should the children's race be questioned. If children were identified as black, they were thought to be unlikely to be adopted and were left to be raised in an institutional nursery, while white babies were prioritized for adoption services.

Another institution named was the Training School for Girls in Hudson, New York, in which its girls were very guilty of being physically abusive.

The book often mentions that children could be unjustly diagnosed as having psychological issues and could be placed in what could be called "boot-camp-like psychiatric hospitals" like one Lamont was placed in while in Minnesota. As Frank Northen Magill, editor of Literary Masterpieces, Critical Compilation, phrases it, Lamont saw the hospital as the "scariest place he had ever been in" (eNotes, "Summary").

Since all of the institutions named in the book were either guilty of discriminatory behavior or fostering abuse, naturally it is part of Bernstein's objective to show just exactly how disempowering and marginalizing these institutions are.

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