Posts Tagged ‘ abuse ’

1 in 8 Children Abused Before 18th Birthday, Study Finds

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Child Abuse GirlOne in eight American children have experienced a form of abuse, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers tracked child-abuse cases of more than 5.6 million children and categorized abuse to included beatings, neglect, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. The study reveals that girls, racial minorities, and children under the age of one had higher percentages of abuse than their counterparts. More from HealthDay.com:

More than 12 percent of kids in the United States experience beatings, neglect or sexual or emotional abuse, according to a new study.

“One in 8 American children, at some point between birth and their 18th birthday, will be maltreated,” said study researcher Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of sociology at Yale University.

Although the percentage of confirmed cases of abuse and neglect is lower than 25 years ago, it’s higher than Wildeman had anticipated. “We compulsively checked our numbers when it came back as 12 percent,” he said.

The study, published online June 2 in JAMA Pediatrics, used information from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File. The database contains only confirmed reports of maltreatment.

The researchers defined confirmed maltreatment as “any report that was substantiated or indicated, meaning sufficient evidence existed for [child protective services] to conclude that abuse or neglect had occurred.”

More girls were mistreated than boys (13 percent versus 12 percent), and certain minority groups were more prone to abuse than others, the researchers said.

More than 20 percent of black children are mistreated, they found. “For Native Americans, the risk is closer to 15 percent,” Wildeman said.

For Hispanic children, the percentage is about 13 percent and for whites, close to 11 percent. “Asians had the lowest, at about 3 to 4 percent,” he said.

Risk is highest early in life, with 2 percent of children having a confirmed report by their first birthday, and nearly 6 percent by their fifth birthday, the researchers said.

However, fewer children suffer abuse now compared to several decades ago, Wildeman said. “There have been big declines in child maltreatment in the U.S. in roughly the last 25 years,” he said, citing other research.

About 80 percent of the cases the team evaluated were neglect, not abuse, he said.

The researchers tracked cases for the years 2004 through 2011, which included about 5.6 million children. They then estimated the cumulative prevalence of confirmed maltreatment by age 18.

The new numbers don’t surprise Janet Currie, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey. “Child maltreatment is a huge and underappreciated public health problem,” said Currie, who was not involved in the study.

In her own recent research, she found that child maltreatment is the leading cause of death from injuries in children older than 1 year.

Because the new report only focuses on confirmed cases, she said it might underestimate the scope of the problem. “Cases may not be confirmed for various reasons, including lack of child welfare staff available to investigate a report,’” she said.

Anyone who suspects a child is mistreated should notify their local or state child protective services or police department, experts say. “Many suspected cases are not verified, but it is better to be safe than sorry about this,” she added.

Telltale signs of abuse include unexplained bruises or burns; fear of going home; age-inappropriate behaviors such as thumb-sucking or bed-wetting, or inappropriate sexual behaviors. A child who is chronically unwashed may be neglected. Other signs of possible neglect are lack of medical or dental care or drug or alcohol abuse, experts say.

To reduce the risk of mistreatment, friends and family should be especially attentive to the needs of parents of very young children, Wildeman said. “The risk of childhood maltreatment is about four times higher in the first year than any other age,” he said, citing his research.

Having loved ones pitch in during that time might ease the burden and the stress, Wildeman said.

Protect your child from predators with these important tips!

Baby Care Basics: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Baby Care Basics: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Baby Care Basics: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Image: Neglect via ShutterStock

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Childhood Trauma May Raise Heart Disease Risk

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Children who suffer traumatic or severely stressful events as kids may bear the mark of their experiences on their blood vessels.  This effect, which is the subject of a new study published in the journal Hypertension, may put those children at higher risk of developing heart disease later in life.  More from Reuters:

[Jennifer] Pollock, part of the research team, co-directs cardio-renal physiology and medicine in the nephrology division at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

She and her colleagues looked for elevations in blood pressure and other indicators of how well blood vessels constrict or relax, as well as signs of stiffness in blood vessel walls.

“All of this was highly correlated with people who have more of these stresses during childhood than the people who had no stressors in childhood,” she said.

Pollock said that household dysfunction was the most common adverse event, followed by neglect and abuse.

For their study, which was published in the journal Hypertension, Pollock and her colleagues analyzed data on 221 healthy adolescents and young adults recruited for a study of cardiovascular risk factors that started in 1989.

The research team looked at markers of blood vessel health including blood pressure, the heart’s output of blood, characteristics of the pulse and levels of a substance called endothelin-1, a protein that constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure.

They calculated adverse childhood event (ACE) scores based on a questionnaire answered when the participants were about 21 years old. Those who reported one traumatic event were classified as having mild ACE and those with two or more traumatic events were classified as moderate or severe ACE.

The researchers found that participants who had one traumatic event in childhood had plasma endothelin-1 levels that were an average of 18 percent higher than those who had reported no traumatic events, and those who had two or more traumatic childhood events had levels that were 24 percent higher.

Participants with two or more adverse events also had elevated measures of blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness.

The study didn’t follow up to see if those young people ended up having more heart attacks, strokes or other illnesses. And it cannot prove that the early-life traumas were the cause of the cardiovascular differences.

Nonetheless, Pollock said that in the future she’d like to determine if behavioral therapies may change the course of the cardiovascular risk factors in people who have these early life stressors.

Image: Stressed child, via Shutterstock

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‘Friday Night Tykes’ Highlights Bullying Coach Issues

Friday, February 7th, 2014

“Friday Night Tykes,” a new reality television show set at a youth football league in Texas, is igniting a debate about the fine line between motivation and bullying when it comes to coaches. An essay on Time.com outlines the issue and cites recent research that studies the ways coaches’ attitudes and behaviors can influence kids:

[On "Friday Night Tykes,"] one weeping child is told by his coach: “I don’t care how much pain you’re in! You don’t quit.” Another coach chides a player, “Don’t give me that soft crap,” while smacking him on the head. Two coaches featured on the show, where all of the athletes are 8- or 9-years-old, were suspended last week.

Such conduct by an adult can have serious ramifications for a child. “It can impair social and emotional development and cause substantial harm to mental health,” Nancy Swigonski, a professor at Indiana University’s School of Medicine, wrote last month in a piece in the journal Pediatrics. “When the bullying occurs in an athletic setting, those harmful effects are augmented by the stress kids often feel as a result of athletic competition.”

Swigonski’s article opens with the scene of a parent walking into basketball practice at her daughter’s high school, only to find “the head coach screaming at the team that they lacked intelligence and were lazy because they had not executed a play properly.”

This kind of behavior is hardly uncommon. Swigonski cited one study of more than 800 American children in which 45% said their coaches called them names, insulted them or verbally abused them during play. In another study from the United Kingdom, 6,000 young adults were asked about their experiences in youth sports, and 75% said they suffered “emotional harm” at least once, and one-third of that group said their coach was to blame.

But what often gets lost in these stories is the flip side of the equation: A “true coach”—to use the term favored by Morgan Wootten, the first high school coach to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame—can also make a lifelong difference for a young person, only in a deeply positive way.

This isn’t to say that coaches should be soft or easy. But there’s a clear line between expecting a lot from kids and being abusive. “It’s good to be tough,” Swigonski said. “It’s just not OK to be a bully.”

Image: Coach’s whistle, via Shutterstock
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Parenting Book’s Techniques Blamed for Multiple Deaths; Petition Circulates

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

“To Train Up a Child,” a parenting book that advocates parents use such extreme discipline measures as starvation and severe beatings with switches and plastic tubes, has been implicated in the murders of three children, all adoptees:  4-year-old Sean Paddock, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz, and 13-year-old Hana Williams.  Last month, Williams’ adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, were convicted of homicide by abuse after the girl died of malnutrition and hypothermia, both punishments linked with advice from the book, which was written by a preacher and his wife.  Politix.com reports on a petition that is circulating urging Amazon.com to remove the book from its website–so far, the petition has garnered more than 80,000 signatures:

The book by preacher Michael Pearl and his wife Debi advocates using a switch on babies starting at 6 months old. The book also recommends beating older children with a flexible plumbing pipe that “can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.” The Williams’s seem to have taken that advice to heart. When Hana died, her body was scarred by beatings with the plumbing line.

The same kind of tubing was used to beat Lydia Schatz, 7, whose adoptive parents were convicted of second-degree murder in her death. Her parents would intersperse beatings with prayer. Lydia “died from severe tissue damage, and her older sister had to be hospitalized,” the New York Times reports. Another small child, 4-year-old Sean Paddock, was scarred by beatings with the tubing when he died at the hands of his adoptive parents.

The Williams’s told friends that Hana was “rebellious” and recommended To Train up a Child as manual for dealing with rebellious children, according to Slate. Hana has also been deprived of food (perhaps following the Pearls’ advice that “a little fasting is good training”) and forced to shower outside and sleep in a barn without bedding, even in freezing weather.

Currently over 670,000 copies of To Train Up a Child are in circulation.

Discipline Without Spanking
Discipline Without Spanking
Discipline Without Spanking

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Genetics Make Some Moms More Likely to Be Abusive During Recession

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Mothers with a specific gene that makes them more prone to stress during times of transition and uncertainty may be more likely to treat their children harshly or abusively during times of economic downturn, according to a new analysis of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.  CBS News has more:

Moms who had a variation in a gene called “DRD2 Taq1A genotype” were shown in a new study to be more likely to react negatively to economic changes in their environment compared to moms who didn’t possess the variant.

The DRD2 Taq1A genotype has been shown to control how the body creates dopamine, a neurotransmiter that regulates behavior in the reward-based pathway in the brain.

The researchers looked at data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFS), which included almost 5,000 children born in 20 U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000. The mothers were interviewed after giving birth, and when their child was 1, 3, 5 and 9 years of age. Information on parenting behavior was gathered when the child was 3, 5 and 9 years old.

Harsh parenting was determined by the mother’s score on the Conflict Tactics Scale, which included questions on five items on psychological harsh parenting — like shouting or threatening the child — and five more items on corporal punishment, like slapping or spanking.

Saliva DNA samples were also collected from 2,600 mothers and children when the child was nine to test for the genetic variant.

After gathering the data, the researchers took into account the economic conditions where the subjects were living, focusing on unemployment rates. They then discovered that moms who had the “sensitive” allele or variation of the DRD2 Taq1A genotype — which they called the “T allele” — were more abusive towards their children when the economy was bad, such as during the 2007-2009 Great Recession. Mothers without this genetic variation were no more likely to act harshly towards their children during this time.

When economic situations improved, mothers with the sensitive T allele were not as harsh compared to the other mothers.

They also discovered that high levels of unemployment among the subjects did not increase how abusive a mom was. Mothers with the T allele were more likely to be mean with their children when the economy was bad, even if they personally did not lose their job or had any personal changes because of the recession.

Instead, the overall unemployment rate of the city they lived in and their confidence in the economy played a larger role. A 10 percent increase in the overall unemployment rate was linked to a 16 percent increase in maternal harsh parenting among those with the T allele.

Image: Angry mother and daughter, via Shutterstock

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