The problem

The negative impact of institutionalisation

Institutions do not encourage children to become attached to a significant adult. The consequences include:

  • poor self-confidence, low self worth and esteem 

  • lack of empathy and understanding of others 

  • indiscriminate affection toward adults and lack of understanding of appropriate boundaries
  • aggression towards others, cruelty to animals; negative and anti-social behaviours 

  • autistic tendencies, stereotypical behaviours, self-stimulation and self harming 

  • poor cognitive development, academic underachievement 

  • poor moral development (difficulty understanding right and wrong)
  • problems with relationships in childhood and adulthood 

  • delinquent behaviour in adolescence and young adulthood 

  • higher probability of an autistic social personality 


Deinstitutionalising and transforming children’s services. A guide to good practice, European Commission Daphne Programme July 2007