Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
A study published this week in the journal Pediatrics has found high rates of sexual and physical abuse among children who have behaviors that deviate from gender norms, leading to increased risk of PTSD as adults.
CNN.com reports that the study did not track transgendered kids, who believe they were born in the wrong physical bodies, but rather kids who exhibit gender nonconforming behaviors like boys wearing nail polish or girls wearing boys’ clothing:
Gender nonconforming behavior occurs in one out of 10 children, according to the study. A vast majority of these kids do not need medical interventions, because the behavior tends to fade as they grow older.
In the study published Monday, nearly 9,000 respondents were asked to recall their childhood experiences before age 11, including favorite toys, games, roles they took while playing, media characters they imitated or admired, and feelings of femininity and masculinity. When they reached adulthood, the participants were surveyed again — this time about whether they experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and were screened for PTSD.
The results showed “very clear patterns,” said S. Bryn Austin, one of the study’s authors. “The young people who as children were most nonconforming were much more likely to report mistreatment or abuse, within the family, by people outside the family. They were targeted for abuse.”
There should be extra precautions taken to protect them, she said.
“We are concerned about the health and risk of abuse and harassment targeting children who behave in a way, or express their gender in a way that’s not typical,” said Austin, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard School of Public Health. “We know there’s a lot of bias about how girls and boys are supposed to behave.”
Image: Little girl playing with a truck, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, January 5th, 2012
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement this week urging pediatricians to ask questions–and listen carefully–to identify warning signs that children are suffering under “toxic stress,” a chronic stress condition that can have serious health implications later in life.
Toxic stress is different from everyday stress, as it is the result of prolonged exposure to intensely difficult situations, such as abusive or neglectful family relationships, poverty, or parental substance abuse or mental illness. Health conditions including mental illness, obesity, diabetes and heart disease are linked to toxic stress.
The Boston Globe’s child development blogger, Dr. Claudia M. Gold, argues that the new statement should be seen as a call to respect–both with time and wages–the work of primary care physicians, particularly pediatricians, as they can be the first line of defense in identifying and easing toxic stress:
As a culture we need to value the primary care clinician, not only in the form of payment equal to the more lucrative subspecialties, but in the form of recognizing the role of relationships in healing. It makes sense that if we are recognizing the importance of family relationships in preventing poor health outcomes, that we should recognize the importance of doctor-patient relationships in supporting these families.
When primary care clinicians take time to carefully listen to stressed parents, parents feel supported in their efforts to carefully listen to their children, thus promoting healthy development. In turn, our culture needs to support and value primary care clinicians ( and its not only pediatricians, the subject of this policy statement, but all those entrusted with primary care of children.)
Image: Upset child, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, November 10th, 2011
In the wake of a 2004 video of a Texas judge beating his teenage daughter with a belt, which received huge YouTube circulation last week, the national conversation about parents using physical means of discipline on their children has risen to fever pitch.
Hillary Adams, now 23, learned last week that the statute of limitations had expired on charges of abuse or judicial misconduct against her father. She had uploaded the video in hopes that her father would be remorseful for her behavior and reconcile their relationship.
CNN.com published a report today about Sweden, which in 1979 became the first country to outlaw corporal punishment by parents. Today, 30 countries have similar laws. From the article:
No countries in North America ban physical punishment by parents, but there’s a perennial debate about the line between discipline and abuse, and who’s allowed to administer it. It flared again last week after millions watched a seven-minute YouTube video from 2004 that showed a Texas judge cursing at his teen daughter and beating her with a belt.
While there are laws against child abuse, it’s legal in all 50 states for parents to hit their children, and for schools in 19 states to physically punish kids. About 80% of American parents said they’ve hit their young children, and about 100,000 kids are paddled in U.S. schools every year, researchers said.
Kids are still hit with hands, belts, switches and paddles, said Elizabeth Gershoff , an associate professor of human development and family sciences at University of Texas, despite research that shows it doesn’t model or teach behavior parents are looking for, that it damages trust between parent and children and that it can lead to increased aggression.
Although more parents are trying a variety of disciplinary measures, corporal punishment isn’t going away, and some researchers argue that it shouldn’t. It’s effective for gaining immediate compliance from young children, and is unlikely to have long-term negative effects, they said. More powerfully, it’s hard to stop a discipline technique that’s been passed down through generations.
(image via: http://www.principalspage.com/)
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Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Jessica Beagley of Anchorage Alaska was convicted Tuesday of misdemeanor child abuse charges after she squirted hot sauce into the mouth of her 7-year-old adopted son as a punishment for misbehaving and lying in school. According to The Huffington Post, prosecutors also charged that she made the boy stand in a cold shower as a punishment, and that both actions were taken as a ploy to get onto a segment of the “Dr. Phil” television show called “Mommy Confessions.” The show aired in November 2010. From The Huffington Post:
Beagley…submitted audition videos in which she yelled at the boy, but producers said they needed to see her actually punishing her son, the prosecutor said.
That’s when Beagley got the video camera ready, made sure there was enough hot sauce on the shelf in the bathroom and recruited her 10-year-old daughter to shoot the video, Franklin said. Days later, she was headed to Los Angeles to tape the show that first aired on Nov. 17, 2010.
The boy and his twin brother were both adopted from Russia by Beagley and her husband in 2008. Defense attorneys argued that she had reached out to the “Dr. Phil” show for help, and that she is not a child abuser.
The maximum sentence will be one year in jail, a $10,000 fine and up to 10 years of probation. Beagley will be sentenced Monday, August 29.
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