The impact of the 1992 Newfoundland fisheries crisis on school children in rural communities: a focus on community perceptions, future career interests and academic achievements

Sharpe, Sarah L. (2004) The impact of the 1992 Newfoundland fisheries crisis on school children in rural communities: a focus on community perceptions, future career interests and academic achievements. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Past studies looking into the effects of economic crisis in rural communities have focused on adults and adolescents. These studies have indicated that residents have often reacted negatively to the financial and social loss associated with unemployment. These reactions can include depression and a sense of hopelessness when looking towards the future. However, this type of loss can be mediated through economic resiliency if communities tum to alternate industries for employment. Resiliency in rural communities can also be strengthened through close social networks that provide a foundation for support, and aid in coping following economic crisis. Few studies have focused on the effects of economic change on children in rural communities. This study examines the effects of unemployment on children and focuses on communities that experienced economic loss following the 1992 Newfoundland fisheries moratorium. -- The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of the moratorium on children's career interests, community perceptions and academic achievements. The children participating in this study lived in two rural communities that experienced high levels of unemployment following the closure of the fishery. One region (A-cove) has since focused efforts on the development of other existing industries while the second region (B-cove) had few alternate resources for employment. Therefore, these two communities experienced different economic situations following the moratorium and provided unique settings with which to compare children's interests, perceptions and achievements. -- Nineteen grade four students in A-cove and 22 grade four students in B-cove participated in this study through the completion of a survey on future career interests and through six focus groups on the topic of community perceptions. Academic achievement was measured with retrospective data from the Canadian Tests of Basic Skills (CTBS). These data provided grade six scores between 1985 and 1991, and four scores between 1987 and 1996 from each community. CTBS data were also compared with provincial scores over the same time periods. -- Results showed that children at ten years of age have detailed knowledge of the fisheries moratorium and unemployment resulting from this economic change. It was also found that there were differences between the two communities in the students' opinions. The fishery was not viewed as a viable future career option in B-cove and there was a high importance placed on post-secondary education and the need to leave this community in search of employment. Students in A-cove were less concerned with leaving the community and felt that they could work in the fishery if needed. However, this industry was not seen as an attractive career choice. CTBS scores revealed that academic achievement was relatively constant prior to 1993. Since the moratorium, academic results have improved in both communities. This improvement was especially evident in B-cove. -- In conclusion, the fisheries moratorium seemed to influence children's future career interests, community perceptions and academic achievement. Variations in community resiliency following this economic change were also seen to impact children's views and future goals. -- It is recommended that grade four students might benefit from home and classroom discussions surrounding the topics of education, employment and the influence of the moratorium on their communities. If options on future educational choices and careers could be presented to children, it could motivate learning and help to alleviate any concerns that students may have.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 11410
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 100-104.
Department(s): Medicine, Faculty of
Date: 2004
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Cod fisheries--Social aspects--Newfoundland and Labrador; Fishing villages--Newfoundland and Labrador--Social conditions; Plant shutdowns--Social aspects--Newfoundland and Labrador; Rural children--Newfoundland and Labrador--Social life and customs.
Medical Subject Heading: Fisheries--Newfoundland and Labrador; Rural Population--Newfoundland and Labrador; Child.

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