New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research

New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect ResearchIt has been 20 years since the National Research Council (NRC) issued the report, Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect.

It now has been updated. A four-page overview can be seen at this link

You can browse the entire  375 -page prepublication pdf at this link.

“In the first major study of child abuse and neglect in 20 years, researchers with the National Academy of Sciences recently reported that the damaging consequences of abuse can not only reshape a child’s brain but also last a lifetime.

If untreated, the effects of child abuse and neglect, the researchers found, can profoundly influence victims’ physical and mental health, their ability to control emotions and impulses, their achievement in school, and the relationships they form as children and as adults.

The researchers recommended an “immediate, coordinated” national strategy to better understand, treat and prevent child abuse and neglect, noting that each year, abuse and neglect costs an estimated $80 billion in the direct costs of hospitalization, law enforcement and child welfare and the indirect costs of special education, juvenile and adult criminal justice, adult homelessness, and lost work productivity.

In Utah, according to a 2008 report from Prevent Child Abuse America, the annual cost for child abuse is $2.8 million, taking into account similar factors, such as hospitalization and law enforcement.

Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah Trina Taylor agrees with the report’s finding of the long-term damage that follows child abuse and the related costs.

“When kids are abused, we see more addiction problems and more mental issues. Even the physical effects are devastating, such as heart conditions,” she said.

Taylor said Utah is in line with the national rates of child abuse and may even have more because the state has more children. Every 38 minutes a child is abused, she said.

“Child abuse and neglect is a serious public health problem, which requires immediate, urgent attention,” said Anne Peter­sen, a professor at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan who chaired the research committee for the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of the National Academies. “The consequences can last into adulthood, with significant costs to the individual, to families and to society.”

The report, produced at the request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that while rates of physical and sexual child abuse have declined in the past 20 years, rates of emotional and psychological abuse, the kind that can produce the most serious long-lasting ­effects, have increased. Rates of neglect have held fairly steady. Researchers said they do not know why.

“That’s why we make that a research priority in our recommendations,” said Lucy Berliner, a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work and a committee member. “We need to understand better the reasons behind these trends.”

Berliner said the committee is proposing a coordinated strategy, because it found so much variation among states, in how abuse and neglect are defined and how local officials are trained to respond to it. “Some states had dramatic, 100 percent increases in cases of neglect,” she said. “And others had 100 percent decreases. That speaks to the complexity of the problem.”

Taylor said the best way to curb the effects of child abuse is to prevent it all together. Her organization works with families that are in a high-risk category of child abuse, even getting involved before the child is born. The group provides support and education for parents to keep the risk minimum and also educate kids to identify abuse and to seek out help.

Every year, child-protection agencies receive 3 million referrals for child abuse and neglect involving about 6 million children, the report found, though with unreported instances, the actual number is probably much higher, the researchers said. And, the report noted, about 80 percent of the children in investigated abuse and neglect cases are not removed from the home.

Child victims are equally likely to be male or female, the report found. The majority are younger than 5. About 80 percent of the perpetrators are parents, the vast majority biological parents. More than half of the perpetrators are female.

Angela Diaz, director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center and another committee member, said the report found three risk factors that increased the likelihood of child abuse: parental depression, parental substance abuse and whether the parents had been abused or neglected as children.

The researchers did not find an association between rates of abuse and times of economic hardship, such as the recent Great Recession.

“Researchers found relationships that were hard to make sense of: increases in child abuse in relationship to mortgage foreclosure but not to unemployment rates,” Berliner said. “It’s not all that straightforward. After welfare reform in the 1990s, there was a concern that as people lost their benefits, that would cause a spike in child-abuse referrals. Instead, that was a period of the greatest reduction in child-abuse referrals.”

While so much remains a mystery about the causes of abuse, and why some children respond to treatment and recover and others do not, the researchers said advances in brain science in the past 20 years show just how devastating and long-lasting the effects of abuse can be on the structure and the function of the brain.

Research has found that abuse and neglect can influence the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates emotions, particularly fear and anxiety. Abuse also has been shown to change how the prefrontal cortex functions, the part of the brain responsible for thinking, planning, reasoning and decision making, which can lead to behavioral and academic problems.

But there is hope, researchers said.

“The effects seen on abused children’s brain and behavioral development are not static,” said committee member Mary Dozier, chairman of child development at the University of Delaware. “If we can intervene and change a child’s environment, we actually see plasticity in the brain. So, we see negative changes when a child is abused, but we also see positive brain changes when the abuse ends and they are more supported. Interventions can be very effective.””

 

A version of this column originally appeared in www.reformtalk.net.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Grand jury criticizes Child Protective Services

10009461_R_CHILDREN_0709[1]Investigators don’t properly consider past history, such as parents’ criminal records, when looking into allegations of child abuse and neglect in Riverside County, according to a grand jury report.

The report released last week also found heavy caseloads for investigators in the Child Protective Services unit of the county Department of Social Services. In addition, the jury found that families aren’t properly told how to file a complaint and that some social workers lack required training.

In an email, county spokesman Ray Smith wrote: “Riverside County will thoroughly review the findings and recommendations and will respond to the report after that review has been completed.”

“A written response will then go to the Board of Supervisors and then be forwarded to the grand jury within the time frame specified by law.”

The grand jury consists of 19 county residents who spend a year looking into the inner workings of local public agencies. Their findings are released every summer.

Child Protective Services, commonly known as CPS, has 90 to 100 investigators and an overall staff of about 450, according to the grand jury’s report. In 2011, the agency received almost 45,000 phone calls alleging child abuse or neglect.

Of those, 82 percent were investigated and 21 percent were found to be substantiated. Almost 4,000 children are under CPS supervision.

In its report, the grand jury found that when investigating complaints, social workers “do not consider all current and prior history,” including past instances in a home of substance abuse, unsafe conditions and poor school attendance by children.

“Sworn testimony revealed that (CPS) has not diligently considered all the law enforcement calls to the homes where dependent children reside, which limits their ability to access all factors related to the children’s safety,” the report read, adding that social workers have limited access to law enforcement records.

“Testimony revealed not all social workers investigate fully into the criminal history of adults living in the home, nor do they investigate the medical, psychological, or school records of children with ongoing neglect and abuse complaints,” the grand jury found.

Social workers said “they are overloaded with cases and cannot properly evaluate the cases assigned to them,” the report read. Some said they had 40 cases and were “overloaded” with paperwork, including seven to 14 reports a month and court reports that take, on average, 6 hours per report to write, the report added.

Not all social workers are aware of or understand the complaint process and some fail to tell families about it, the report read. Social workers are supposed to get nine weeks of “core induction training” before tackling cases, but that doesn’t always happen, the report added.

It’s not the first time a grand jury has looked into CPS. In 2000, a grand jury report criticized the agency for being disorganized and allowing employees in different bureaus to run “fiefdoms” with no consistent procedures.

And after 11 children died, apparently at the hands of their parents, during a five-month span of 1994, the county requested a review of CPS by the Child Welfare League of America.

In 1996, the league concluded that the agency’s shortfalls created a “dangerous environment for both children and social workers.” A follow-up review in 2001 found improvement, but concluded children were still at risk and suggested improvements such as more training and support of social workers by managers.

In the latest report, the grand jury recommends CPS develop procedures to get more information from law enforcement authorities and other sources.

“This will provide information to caseworkers of law enforcement activity at the home address of dependent children and other pertinent information regarding school attendance and/or medical information,” the report read.

CPS also needs to evaluate workers’ caseloads, do more to inform families of the complaint process and establish a plan for veteran social workers to mentor their less-experienced peers, the jury recommended.

 

A version of this column originally appeared in pe.com.

Trial for Mercer County mom charged with child abuse to begin

justice[1]On the morning of June 25, 2013, Sheena Johnson, mother accused of child abuse and neglect after her family was found living in a storage locker in Ewing, New Jersey, is set to appear before the Mercer Court Family Court to determine whether she should be substantiated for the alleged acts of child abuse and neglect, and whether she and her children will be reunited. The children were separated from their mother after she was arrested for child endangerment, and her children were placed in the custody of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), formerly known as DYFS.

The case will be heard before Judge William Anklowitz, who will be asked to determine whether or not Johnson will be allowed to regain custody of her children. In determining reunification, the judge's primary responsibility is to consider what is in the best interest of the children. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4C-11.3, DCP&P is supposed to make every effort to reunify the children with the parent. Few instances exist when reunification should not be attempted:

  • The parent has subjected the child to aggravated abuse, neglect, cruelty, or abandonment;
  • The parent committed a violent crime that resulted in the death or significant injury of one of their children; or
  • The parent's custody rights have already been terminated for another child.

In the case of Johnson, her defense argues that her only "crime" was being poor, and that she and her children were living in a storage locker because they could not afford adequate housing. However, DCP&P argues that Johnson did not make an attempt to utilize social services in order to obtain appropriate housing for her children.

Since the children have been separated from their mother, they have only been able to see her during three supervised visits, and DCP&P has move changed their home twice in the last month.

 

A version of this column originally appeared in feedproxy.google.com.

The Child Protection Racket

brokensystemf23c1432-b4a0-417e-ad4b-9c39e85bdb68-300x225[1]Child welfare in the state of Missouri comes under the state government’s Executive branch, Department of Social Services (DSS). The Missouri Constitution Article IV Section 37 states the guiding principle of the Department of Social Services quite simply as:

“The health and general welfare of the people are matters of primary public concern; and to secure them there shall be established a department of social services in charge of a director appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, charged with promoting improved health and other social services to the citizens of the state as provided by law, and the general assembly may grant power with respect thereto to counties, cities or other political subdivisions of the state.”

One presumes that no one has any argument with the general statement of support for the health and welfare of Missouri citizens.

The Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo), the governing laws of the state, further define child welfare in Chapter 1 Section 1.092 as:

“The child welfare policy of this state is what is in the best interests of the child.”

The state’s child welfare services are concentrated in the Division of Family Services (DFS) in the Department of Social Services. Operating instructions for DFS are specified in RSMo Chapter 210 Section 210.109:

“The child protection system shall promote the safety of children and the integrity and preservation of their families by conducting investigations or family assessments and providing services in response to reports of child abuse or neglect. The system shall coordinate community resources and provide assistance or services to children and families identified to be at risk, and to prevent and remedy child abuse and neglect.”

One presumes that no one has any argument with the general statement of support for the health and welfare of Missouri children.

RSMo Chapter 630 Section 630.097 further authorizes the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to establish a “unified accountable comprehensive children’s mental health service system” providing “annual reports that include progress toward outcomes, monitoring, changes in populations and services, and emerging issues.” The strategic plan developed as a result of this legislation can be found here. The 2012 Annual Report for this effort can be found here.

There are no statistics about outcomes in this latest annual report. In fact, the report only discusses the establishment and activities of various committees, web sites, conferences, meetings, workshops, funding, training, newsletters — in short, nary a single word about accountable positive outcomes that improve the actual health and welfare of children.

An argument could be made that “improved health” and “best interests of the child” have not been genuine concerns of the state for its citizens and particularly for its children. The DSS, the DFS, and the DMH have all lost their way and abandoned their original purpose.

Instead we have these:

RSMo Chapter 208 Section 208.227 specifically allows for the availability of psychotropic drugs for seniors and children.

RSMo Chapter 208 Section 208.152 guarantees payments by MO HealthNet (the state Medicaid program) to provide mental health services.

RSMo Chapter 211 Section 211.161 allows juvenile courts to “cause any child or person seventeen years of age within its jurisdiction to be examined by a physician, psychiatrist or psychologist appointed by the court.”

To be fair, there is the occasional protection. For example, RSMo Chapter 632 Section 070 allows for the parents or legal custodians of any minors referred to DFS to consent to the mental health treatment of their children, and they must be advised that they have the right to consult their regular physicians before giving their consent to any treatment.

Are these protections enough? Judging from the number of cases brought to CCHR’s attention about children being taken away by DFS when the parents refuse to give psychiatric drugs to their children, we don’t think so.

Child Psychiatry is Child Abuse

The greatest threat of psychiatry is its targeting of the young, for in doing so, it threatens to destroy our future leaders. The drugging of children is a multbillion dollar business that grows larger every day. Psychiatrists expand their funding sources with an endless supply of fraudulent labels for normal childhood behavior.

No child should be compelled to receive brain-damaging “treatment” of any kind. No parent should be coerced into agreeing that, in order to retain custody of their child, they must consent to fraudulent, harmful and abusive psychiatric “care.”

If you become aware of the abusive treatment of children by the Missouri DSS, DFS, or DMH, notify the Office of Child Advocate: 866-457-2302, oca@oca.mo.gov, or fill out and send in a complaint form.

 

A version of this column originally appeared in feedproxy.google.com.

The Child Protection Racket

CPS TerrorismChild welfare in the state of Missouri comes under the state government’s Executive branch, Department of Social Services (DSS). The Missouri Constitution Article IV Section 37 states the guiding principle of the Department of Social Services quite simply as:

“The health and general welfare of the people are matters of primary public concern; and to secure them there shall be established a department of social services in charge of a director appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, charged with promoting improved health and other social services to the citizens of the state as provided by law, and the general assembly may grant power with respect thereto to counties, cities or other political subdivisions of the state.”

One presumes that no one has any argument with the general statement of support for the health and welfare of Missouri citizens.

The Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo), the governing laws of the state, further define child welfare in Chapter 1 Section 1.092 as:

“The child welfare policy of this state is what is in the best interests of the child.”

The state’s child welfare services are concentrated in the Division of Family Services (DFS) in the Department of Social Services. Operating instructions for DFS are specified in RSMo Chapter 210 Section 210.109:

“The child protection system shall promote the safety of children and the integrity and preservation of their families by conducting investigations or family assessments and providing services in response to reports of child abuse or neglect. The system shall coordinate community resources and provide assistance or services to children and families identified to be at risk, and to prevent and remedy child abuse and neglect.”

One presumes that no one has any argument with the general statement of support for the health and welfare of Missouri children.

RSMo Chapter 630 Section 630.097 further authorizes the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to establish a “unified accountable comprehensive children’s mental health service system” providing “annual reports that include progress toward outcomes, monitoring, changes in populations and services, and emerging issues.” The strategic plan developed as a result of this legislation can be found here. The 2012 Annual Report for this effort can be found here.

There are no statistics about outcomes in this latest annual report. In fact, the report only discusses the establishment and activities of various committees, web sites, conferences, meetings, workshops, funding, training, newsletters — in short, nary a single word about accountable positive outcomes that improve the actual health and welfare of children.

An argument could be made that “improved health” and “best interests of the child” have not been genuine concerns of the state for its citizens and particularly for its children. The DSS, the DFS, and the DMH have all lost their way and abandoned their original purpose.

Instead we have these:

RSMo Chapter 208 Section 208.227 specifically allows for the availability of psychotropic drugs for seniors and children.

RSMo Chapter 208 Section 208.152 guarantees payments by MO HealthNet (the state Medicaid program) to provide mental health services.

RSMo Chapter 211 Section 211.161 allows juvenile courts to “cause any child or person seventeen years of age within its jurisdiction to be examined by a physician, psychiatrist or psychologist appointed by the court.”

To be fair, there is the occasional protection. For example, RSMo Chapter 632 Section 070 allows for the parents or legal custodians of any minors referred to DFS to consent to the mental health treatment of their children, and they must be advised that they have the right to consult their regular physicians before giving their consent to any treatment.

Are these protections enough? Judging from the number of cases brought to CCHR’s attention about children being taken away by DFS when the parents refuse to give psychiatric drugs to their children, we don’t think so.

Child Psychiatry is Child Abuse

The greatest threat of psychiatry is its targeting of the young, for in doing so, it threatens to destroy our future leaders. The drugging of children is a multbillion dollar business that grows larger every day. Psychiatrists expand their funding sources with an endless supply of fraudulent labels for normal childhood behavior.

No child should be compelled to receive brain-damaging “treatment” of any kind. No parent should be coerced into agreeing that, in order to retain custody of their child, they must consent to fraudulent, harmful and abusive psychiatric “care.”

If you become aware of the abusive treatment of children by the Missouri DSS, DFS, or DMH, notify the Office of Child Advocate: 866-457-2302, oca@oca.mo.gov, or fill out and send in a complaint form.

 

A version of this column originally appeared in feedproxy.google.com.