Family Violence Changes Children's Brains
1/20/2012 7:31:10 AM
A recent study in Current Biology explores the ways in which exposure to family violence changes children's brains. Exposure to violence in the household includes physical abuse, which is experienced by between 4 and 16% of children, and intimate partner violence, which is witnessed by between 8 and 25% of children. The study used MRIs to compare the responses of children exposed to family violence with those of children not exposed to family violence when shown pictures of angry, neutral and sad faces.
When shown the angry face, children who had experienced family violence showed greater reactivity in both the amygdala, which moderates emotional responses and preparation for stress, and the anterior insula (AI), which works with the amygdala to anticipate pain, than children who had not experienced family violence. Although this heightened response may be beneficial when faced with an immediate threat, previous research links increased reactivity in these areas of the brain to several anxiety disorders.The authors suggest that this hypervigilance may limit a child's ability to master certain social skills and may even predispose children to future aggression. The study did not include children with symptoms of depression or anxiety disorders, implying that there are neurological consequences of family violence even in children without mental health symptoms.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study violence and its effects on children. Daniel Flannery researches the effects of violence on children in Cuyahoga County. Read a policy brief on his work. Patrick Kanary studies youth violence prevention and childhood exposure to violence. Jeffrey Kretschmar studies violence and aggression. Judith Lipton studies inter-disciplinary strategies for addressing domestic violence and the rights of immigrant victims of family violence. Mark Singer studies youth violence and the community. James Spilsbury researches how family violence can affect children's sleep and health.
Read The Atlantic's summary of the study.
Tags: Children, Family, Health, Violence
Michael Wald Speaks On Rethinking Child Protection
12/2/2011 7:49:49 AM
On November 29, the Schubert Center hosted Stanford University Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law, Emeritus, Michael Wald as part of the Schubert Center's 2011-2012 lecture series Child Well-Being in Challenging Times. In the talk, titled Rethinking Child Protection, he discussed how child protective services should focus on threats to children's physical well-being and that the development of a second system is needed to serve at-risk families of children with developmental challenges. Additionally, he highlighted key areas of achievement that all children should reach by adulthood, including graduating high school, avoiding criminal conviction and incarceration, and delaying parenthood until age 18 or later. He argued that the current systems and intervention programs during early childhood do not improve these outcomes for the "bottom 20 percent" of children, due to their parents' isolation from the larger community. After his talk, Professor Wald was joined by Patricia Rideout, the Director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Juvenile and Family Services, and Dr. Mark Feingold, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at CWRU's School of Medicine, who discussed their experiences working with maltreated children and the Child Protective Service in Cuyahoga County. The Schubert Center and its faculty associates have long been involved in issues of child maltreatment. Director Dr. Jill Korbin, Dr. Claudia Coulton, Dr. David Crampton, and Dr. James Spilsbury studied the impact of neighborhood conditions on child maltreatment and child wellbeing. Read an article on their findings, co-written by former Child Policy Director Molly Irwin.
Learn more about this event.
Get information about upcoming Schubert Center lectures.
Tags: Children, Family, Parenthood, Violence, Welfare
Some Youth Incompetent to Stand Trial Due to Cognitive Impairments and Immaturity
10/13/2011 8:20:38 AM
A study published in September's issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law found that many youth in the juvenile justice system are determined as incompetent to stand trial due to cognitive impairments and an inability to understand the long-term consequences of their actions.The authors attribute the high rate of incompetency to stand trial in adolescents, especially those under fourteen, to a "myopic temporal perspective" which leads them to misunderstand or underestimate the consequences of their actions.
The researchers used the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication (MacCAT-CA), the Judgement in Legal Contexts (JILC) instrument, the Welchsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) and the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Second Version (MAYSI-2) to evaluate competence, future orientation, intellectual ability and psychopathy in 453 detained youth and 474 youth in the community who were not involved in the juvenile justice system. They found that competency was strongly associated with both intelligence and age. Additionally, youth with psychiatric symptoms were less competent than youth without psychiatric symptoms.
The authors note the importance of these findings in the juvenile justice system, as not all states require a consideration of maturity in evaluating juvenile defendant's competence. Aaron Kivisto, the lead author of the article, states, "When we're teenagers, we're focused on short-term consequences. Teens think about what might happen later today if they do something. Because courts can impose consequences that can affect someone's life for years, it appears that adolescents approach these longer-term and very serious implications blindly."Gabriella Celeste
, Child Policy Director, spoke with Faculty Associate Patrick Kanary
and Marcia Egbert of the George Gund Foundation on October 11, 2011 about recent reforms to juvenile justice programs in Ohio. These reforms will result in more youth remaining in their communities in evidence-based programs who would have previously been incarcerated. Download the powerpoint of their talk.
A number of Schubert Center Faculty Associates study child development, including:
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Juvenile Justice, Violence
Child Abuse Increased During the Recession, Study Says
9/19/2011 12:15:48 PM
A study, published this week in Pediatrics and conducted in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Washington, found that the number of children diagnosed with abusive head trauma in hospitals rose from 8.9 in 100,000 before the recession to 14.7 in 100,000 during the recession. Abusive head trauma, such as Shaken Baby Syndrome, is the leading cause of child death, and previous research suggests that times of stress can lead to increases in child abuse.
The study found 422 cases of abusive head trauma in hospital emergency rooms, with the average age of the child at 9 months. Sixteen percent of the children in the study died due to their injuries. The authors mention that an important factor in the rise in cases of AHT may be that the recession forced many people who had previously not been caretakers to be the primary caretakers for young children. In a MSNBC article on the study, Dr. Rachel P. Berger, one of the authors, notes the importance of teaching parents that it is ok to leave a crying baby safely in a crib and walk away after all basic needs have been taken care of when stressed. She also says that government decreases in programs to help infants and young children may also contribute to increased parental stress.
Schubert Center Director Dr. Jill Korbin has studied child maltreatment for over 35. She is currently editing a volume on C. Henry Kempe, a pediatrician who was the first to identify child abuse in a medical setting.
To read the study, click here.
To read an NPR article on the study, click here.
To read an MSNBC article on the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Early Childhood, Family, Parenthood, Violence
Article Proposes Prenatal and Early Childhood Origins of Violence
9/14/2011 11:08:30 AM
In an article published in January 2011 in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior, Dr. Jianghong Liu of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing proposes a framework for understanding the pre- and early post-natal origins of violence. Dr. Liu argues that the current literature neglects the role of early childhood in child and adolescent violent behavior and lacks long-term studies of how early childhood health impacts later behavior.
She proposes a variety of early health risk factors that may increase risk of childhood aggression, including smoking during pregnancy, birth complications, alcohol and drug consumption during pregnancy, teenage pregnancy, maternal depression, malnutrition, lead exposure, head injury, child abuse and maternal stress. These risk factors do the most damage during early childhood, when children’s neuro-development is at its peak. She argues that public health prevention programs targeting these risk factors are a heretofore-unused opportunity for violence prevention.
In a news article about her research, Dr. Liu says, “As a society we should invest in better health care for early life – as early as a growing fetus – in order to minimize their health risk factors for violence. It is never too early to intervene in the development of violent tendencies.” Her statement echoes the work of Dr. James Heckman, Nobel Laureate, who advocates for economic investment in early childhood education. A summary of his talk at the Schubert Center in March 2010 can be accessed here.
On September 27, Schubert Center Faculty Associate Dr. Daniel Flannery will be giving a talk on Merging Research, Practice, and Policy in Addressing Children’s Exposure to Violence. He is the director of the Semi J. and Ruth J. Begun Center for Violence Prevention at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. His current research projects include Project Tapestry, which studies violence prevention services for youth, and evaluation of the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program.
Several other Faculty Associates study violence in children and youth. Dr. James Spilsbury of the Center for Clinical Investigation studies the role of sleep disturbances in children who have been exposed to violence. Dr. Mark Singer of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences studies youth violence and co-existing drug and mental disorders.
To read the original article online, click here.
To read a Science Direct article on the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Family, Infancy, Violence
Recent Killings Draw Attention to Mothers Who Kill Their Children
4/21/2011 12:49:27 PM
Last week, a shocking case of a mother who drover her car filled with her four children into the Hudson River made national headlines. However, a series of articles following this event note that parents and particularly mothers are far more common than the public perceives them to be. One such article notes that parents kill their children at least 100 times a year and that mothers are more likely than fathers to kill children under the age of 5.
Schubert Center Director Dr. Jill Korbin has studied women who fatally maltreat their children for over 35 years. In a recent Associated Press article, she noted that, unlike reducing auto fatalities, finding means of preventing these deaths has proved difficult. She does state that society’s desire to be supportive of a “good mother” may result in hesitancy to intervene even when friends and family members may see a mother struggling.
Case Western Medical School professor Dr. Phillip Resnick is a forensic psychologist who has testified in a number of prominent cases, including the 2001 Andrea Yates case. He spoke with NPR about a variety of circumstances in which parents kill their children, including what he calls an “altruistic killing” which occurs when a depressed parent decides to kill his or her children to spare them from the cruelty of the world. In a previous study, he found one in every 33 mothers in the United States is a parent killing his or her child.
To read the Associated Press article that Dr. Korbin contributed to, click here.
To listen to an NPR conversation with Dr. Resnick and two mothers, click here.
Tags: Children, Family, Mental Health, Parenthood, Violence, Welfare
Women Abused During Childhood at Increased Risk for Having Low Birthweight Babies
3/31/2011 9:12:44 AM
A recent study from the University of Washington has found that emotional, sexual, and physical abuse and poverty before age 10 leads to an increased risk of having a low birth weight baby. The study also found links between alcohol and drug use during adolescence and pregnancy and low birth weight.
Children are considered low birth weight if they are born weighing less than 2500 grams. Low birth weight has been linked with a variety of negative impacts to health and development including cerebral palsy, increased rates of conduct disorders, obesity, and increased risk of death before age one.
The study is the first to find a link between maternal childhood maltreatment and low birth weight. The authors also found the childhood maltreatment increased risk of substance abuse during high school and that women who used drugs during high school were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol during later pregnancies. The study is part of a recent trend in looking at the effects of early life experiences on later health outcomes.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study various issues related to low birth weight and child maltreatment.
- Schubert Center Director Dr. Jill Korbin has studied child maltreatment with a focus on child abuse in a cross-cultural setting for 35 years.
- Dr. Maureen Hack studies the outcomes for low birth weight and very low birth weight children. A policy brief on the findings of her research on the impact of low birth weight throughout the lifespan can be downloaded here.
- Dr. H. Gerry Taylor studies the impact of low birth weight and premature birth and future learning and neurological status. A policy brief from a recent talk he gave on early school progress for children with extreme prematurity can be downloaded here.
- Dr. Marilyn Lotas studies the health issues related to low and very low birth weight.
To read the article, click here.
To read a news article about the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Family, Low Birth Weight, Parenthood, Poverty, Violence