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Psychological Abuse: Common & Harmful

Psychological abuse — including demeaning, bullying and humiliating — may be the most prevalent form of child maltreatment. Yet it’s among the hardest to identify or to treat.

Psychological Abuse: More Common, as Harmful as Other Child Maltreatment It may be the most common kind of child abuse — and the most challenging to deal with. But psychological abuse, or emotional abuse, rarely gets the kind of attention that sexual or physical abuse receives.

That’s the message of a trio of pediatricians, who write this week in the journal Pediatrics with a clarion call to other family doctors and child specialists: stay alert to the signs of psychological maltreatment. Its effects can be every bit as devastating as those of other abuse.

Psychological maltreatment can include terrorizing, belittling or neglecting a child, the pediatrician authors say.

“We are talking about extremes and the likelihood of harm, or risk of harm, resulting from the kinds of behavior that make a child feel worthless, unloved or unwanted,” Harriet MacMillan, one of the three pediatrician authors, told reporters.

What makes this kind maltreatment so challenging for pediatricians and for social services staff, however, is that it’s not defined by any one specific event, but rather by the nature of the relationship between caregiver and child. That makes it unusually hard to identify.

Keeping a child in a constant state of fear is abuse, for example. But even the most loving parent will occasionally lose their cool and yell. Likewise, depriving a child of ordinary social interaction is also abuse, but there’s nothing wrong with sending a school-aged boy to stew alone in his room for an hour after he hits a younger sibling. All of this means that, for an outsider who observes even some dubious parenting practice, it can be hard to tell whether a relationship is actually abusive, or whether you’ve simply caught a family on a bad day.

Psychological abuse can also include what you might call “corrupting a child” — encouraging children to use illicit drugs, for example, or to engage in other illegal activities.

In their Pediatrics paper, MacMillan and co-authors say that 8% to 9% of women and 4% of men reported severe psychological abuse in childhood when the question was posed in general-population surveys of the U.S. and Britain. A number of U.S. surveys have also found that more adults claim they faced psychological maltreatment as kids than claim they experienced any other form of abuse. This suggests that psychological maltreatment may be the most common form of abuse inflicted on kids.

Because of that, pediatricians must be as sensitive to signs of emotional maltreatment as they are to signals of sexual or physical abuse, the authors say. And while it may be possible in the event of psychological abuse to intervene to improve the child’s home life — especially where the root cause is a parent’s own mental-health issue — the authors stress:

Consideration of out-of-home care interventions should not be restricted to cases of physical or sexual abuse; children exposed to psychological maltreatment may also require a level of protection that necessitates removal from the parental home.

 

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Media violence: 1 of 6 Risk Factors for Bullying

A new tool may help schools identify students who are more likely to commit aggressive acts against other students, research shows.

See on www.futurity.org

 

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Embarrassing Punishments Hurt Kids

By Rachael Rettner

Embarrassing Punishments Hurt Kids, Experts SayParents and teachers who try to make their kids behave by subjecting them to humiliating punishments are taking the wrong approach to discipline, experts say.

Just this month, a Florida teacher was suspended for making tardy students wear a wide-brimmed dog collar dubbed the “cone of shame.” And parents in Minnesota who were disappointed with their daughter’s grades were arrested after they shaved the 12-year old girl’s head and forced her to wear a diaper and run around outside.

While these cases are certainly extreme, experts say that any punishment that shames or embarrasses a child is not an effective way to discipline youngsters, and may cause long-term psychological damage.

“The research is pretty clear that it’s never appropriate to shame a child, or to make a child feel degraded or diminished,” said Andy Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan. Such punishments can lead to “all kinds of problems in the future,” Grogan-Kaylor said, including increased anxiety, depression and aggression.

Malicious punishments can also damage a parent’s relationship with their child, and lead to a cycle of bad behavior, experts say.

Instead, parents should use other discipline strategies, such as setting clear rules for kids and taking away privileges. Overall, parents should aim to create a supporting environment for their child.

“Positive things have a much more powerful effect on shaping behavior than any punishment,” Grogan-Kaylor said.

Damaging punishments

Out-of-the norm punishments can have social repercussions for children, said Jennifer Lansford, a research professor at Duke Univesity’s Center for Child and Family Policy. An odd punishment can make a child stand out, and provoke bullying, Lansford said.

In addition, children evaluate their own experiences in the context of what they see their peers experiencing, Lansford said. If children are disciplined in ways that are not condoned by society, “it can lead children to perceive they are personally rejected by their parents,” Lansford said.

Humiliating punishments can also disconnect parents from their children, making kids less likely to want to behave and do what their parents say, said Katharine Kersey, a professor of early childhood education at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and author of the upcoming book “101 Principles for Positive Guidance with Young Children” (Allyn & Bacon, August 2012).

“Each time we [embarrass children with a punishment] we pay a price, and we drive them away from us, and we lose our ability to be a role model for them,” Kersey said.

“When you disconnect from a child, he no longer wants to please you, he no longer wants to be like you. You’ve lost your power of influence over him,” Kersey said.

Children who are punished in these ways usually still commit the behavior, but do it behind their parents’ backs, Kersey said.

Better ways to discipline

To properly discipline a child, experts recommend the following:

  • Focus on the positive — the behaviors you want to see more of — rather than the mistakes, Kersey said. “If a child is running, instead of saying stop running, you say use your walking feet,” Kersey said.
  • Be proactive: establish rules you want your kids to follow, and be reasonable in your expectations, Lansford said.
  • Listen to your kids: Often times, bad behavior is a mistake, Grogan-Kaylor said. Parents should listen to why their children did something, and explain why the behavior is inappropriate.
  • Timeouts are appropriate for younger kids. For older kids, taking away privileges such as watching TV may be effective, Lansford said. In a classroom setting, teachers may consider rewarding kids for good behavior, Lansford said.
  • Parent should model the responsible behaviors they want children to repeat, Kersey said.

Pass it on:  Humiliating punishments don’t work to discipline children, and may have long-term consequences.

Source: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/2584-embarrassing-punishments-children-discipline.html?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=MHND_05152012

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Kids Exposed to Bullying, Violence May Age Faster

By 

The emotional and physical scars from being bullied or exposed to other types of violence as a child may go deeper than imagined.

New research shows that the genetic material, or DNA, of children who experienced violence shows the type of wear and tear that is normally associated with advancing age.

“Children who experience extreme violence at a young age have a biological age that is much older than other children,” says researcher Idan Shalev. He is a post-doctoral researcher in psychology and neuroscience at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy in Durham, N.C.

Youth violence is widespread in the U.S. today. The CDC states that it’s the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 24, and that nationwide, about 20% of students in grades 9-12 were bullied in 2009.

Bullied Kids Age Faster Than Others

To see whether youth violence affects vulnerability to aging, the study authors focused on telomeres, or tiny strips of genetic material that look like tails on the ends of our chromosomes; think of a cap on an end of a shoelace. Telomere shortening is an indicator of cell aging.

The researchers analyzed DNA samples from twins at ages 5 and 10 and compared telomere length to three kinds of violence: domestic violence between the mother and her partner, being bullied frequently, and physical maltreatment by an adult. Moms were also interviewed when kids were 5, 7, and 10 to create a cumulative record of exposure to violence.

Children who were exposed to cumulative violence showed accelerated telomere shortening from age 5 to age 10. What’s more, children who were exposed to multiple forms of violence had the fastest telomere shortening rate, the study shows.

“Children who experience violence appear to be aging at a faster rate,” Shalev says.

Whether or not these changes are reversible is not clear. Shalev and colleagues plan to study the children for longer periods of time to see what happens later on in life. Their findings appear in Molecular Psychiatry.

Bullying Scars Run Deep

Bullying and other violence experienced during childhood may cause a physical erosion of DNA, says Paul Thompson, PhD. He is a professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“We now have a physical record that violence during childhood could be damaging later in life,” he says. This is a “big surprise.”

Victor Fornari, MD, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., says the new findings make perfect sense. “This article really points to a potential biological [indicator] that helps explain some of the differences in the brains of children who have experienced significant trauma and stress,” he says.

Read more: http://children.webmd.com/news/20120423/kids-exposed-bullying-violence-may-age-faster

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in General

 

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New Domestic Violence Online Course

 

Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence

Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner ViolenceDomestic violence, in the form of child abuse and intimate partner violence, remains a pervasive part of contemporary life in the U.S. Its effects are deep and far-reaching. This new 2-hour online continuing education course is intended to help health professionals maintain a high state of vigilance and to be well prepared with immediate and appropriate responses when abuse is disclosed. There is a special section on the complexity of an abuse victim’s decision about if and when to leave an abuser. This course will teach clinicians to detect abuse when they see it, screen for the particulars, and respond with definitive assistance in safety planning, community referrals, and individualized treatment plans.

This course is presented in two sections. Part I will deal with the scope, definitional concepts, dynamics, recognition, assessment, and treatment of victims of child abuse. A section on bullying is included, with consideration of a contemporary variant of bullying known as “cyber-bullying.” There is also a section addressing the question of whether abused children grow up to become abusers themselves. A strengths-based model of assessment and intervention is detailed.

Part II will cover similar aspects of intimate partner violence, including women, children, and men. Sections are included on cross cultural considerations and same gender abuse dynamics. Emphasis is on identifying victims of IPV and providing screening and intervention procedures that are intended to empower victims to take control of their own lives. There are sections on the dynamics that influence when/whether abuse victims decide to leave their abusers and how clinicians can prepare for immediate interventions as soon as a client discloses that he/she is being abused.

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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in General

 

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