Child Neglect – minutes or months?
In NZ, the public discourse is about obvious child neglect or serious injury done in a minute and the more subtle emotional neglect, which injures children over weeks and months is neglected in the public debate.
This longer term damage by emotional neglect, affects many, many more children, probably over 10,000.
It cannot be seen in bruises, it cannot be picked up as a child left unattended for a few minutes or hours. Diagnosing emotional neglect is not straightforward.
It occurs when the caregivers fail to attend or respond to the child, many times per hour and fails to provide the child with other appropriate stimulations, month after month. Contact with other children and adults is essential. Multiple relationships protects the child’s development, even if the day to day caregiver isn’t particularly competent.
Rather than diagnosing incompetent parents, isn’t it better to warn them, before they are out of their depth?
The present public debate, over 10 or 20 children per year, is just a feel-good by putting someone else down. This debate is carried on by insecure, maybe incompetent parents, who can only feel good by belittling other parents. I am not saying forget about children beaten to death, but lets not be distracted by debating over these serious injuries and forget to respond appropriately to emotionally neglected children. Lets attend to injury and emotional neglect in proportion to their numbers and the seriousness. Broken bones usually heal in 6 weeks, emotional neglect often heals in 25 to 40 years.
The present public debate about serious violence injuries, is just a smokescreen to keep the featherbrains in familycaught$ awarding custody to mothers, irrespective of their actual parenting skills. In my opinion, a competent parent would rarely ever want to exclude the other parent. (It is always best to be able to share the blame!) Any parent who wants to exclude the other parent, unless there is some real hazard, is the hazard themself.
Incompetent parents don’t know what it is they don’t know. (Of course the same goes for incompetent familycaught$ judges, incompetent at child protection.)
There is no point in blaming and putting down these parents, as it almost always isn’t really their fault. Most have been emotionally neglected in their babyhood years. Another too common cause of lack of competence, is substance addiction.
As a country, we should make sure that children learn about taking care of babies and children, before they reach puberty. With smaller family sizes, this is not so easy to achieve.
Even more important, before children reach puberty, they should have had enough experience taking care of little children, to know whether they are up to the task. They won’t like being told, so I guess it needs to be done experientially. This should lead to parents who lack body language emotional reading skills making their own choice to avoid parenthood.
Taking care of a baby or children on your own, is much harder than in a partnership. By providing DPB no questions asked, no skills tested, we are financially incentivising dangerous parenting. We reap what we sow, rather cruelly really.
Many young girls who end up pregnant risk being quite hazardous sole parents.
Is it their fault, or are we driving this dynamic by carelessly funding unskilled parents, who cannot get jobs?
Lets get the public discourse to look at the quality of parenting our children are receiving.
When we do this, we may find that a substantial number of mothers and fathers are not adequate. In some cases, assistance and training may be given and taken up. Unfortunately, quite a number of parents cannot be helped, as their communication problems are deep seated and not easily able to be helped. The difficulty to help these parents, lies in their own deprived childhoods. (NZ Brainwave Trust has a public education programme pushing for better protection of babies.)
It is essential that as a society we act to protect children from these parents.
The existing familycaught$ fails to protect children, as it’s understanding of parent-child interactions is about 75 years out of date. Although their is the ocassional legal conference paper about child neglect, these rarely transfer into action that satisfactorily protects children.
For positive change, fathers must learn more about child development and mental health impacts onto parenting skills and be able to argue these in familycaught$.
It is no pleasure to draw attention to these issues relating to your own spouse, that you chose to have children with.
However, until we warn children before puberty about their parenting skills, then we will continue to have to rescue children from less competent parents. This is not pleasant work.
Separation significantly increases the risks to children’s development. We must warn parents before separation, what the likely effect on their children would be, if they proceed to separate. If parents knew that by separating their children would be ok, or would be at greatly increased risk, then surely this is information we should give parents before they make their decision to separate?
Fathers, if perchance the mother of your children turns out to have parenting problems, are you willing to step in and serve this need yourself?
Mother to reappear in court over child neglect charge
NewstalkZB | 12:52pm Thu 26 Jul 2012
A Wairarapa mother, whose child was found wandering alone down a highway, has made a brief appearance in the Masterton District Court.
The woman faces one charge of neglecting a child after her three-year-old daughter was found walking along the side of the road in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The 27-year-old woman told police she had left the girl at home alone for two hours while she visited friends.
She’s been remanded without plea and will reappear next month.
Another similar media article – Babies make up half of abuse cases
Social deprivation hurts child brain development, study finds
Jul 23, 2012
LOS ANGELES — Children who grow up in institutions instead of with families have major deficits in brain development, a study of Romanian orphans has shown.
The findings, published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, underscore the importance of an enriched environment during infancy and childhood and may help explain the increased rates of depression and anxiety disorders known to exist among institutionalized children.
The report comes from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, which has been following 136 Romanian orphans for 12 years, ever since the children were infants. The project is unique because it is the first to randomly assign children either to foster care or to the institutional care of orphanages.
Such randomization — ethically possible because all the children would otherwise have remained in institutions — has allowed the scientists to ensure that other factors, such as physical appearance or personality, did not affect whether children were chosen to join a family or remained in an institution.
Researchers at Harvard University, the University of Maryland and Tulane University worked with Romanian authorities to place half the children with families that had been rigorously vetted to ensure they would provide good homes. Since that time, most of these children have remained with their foster families. Children living with their biological families have served as a control group.
The team has published almost 50 research papers since the project began, showing that the orphans who remained in institutions have significantly more behavioral and neurological deficits than those who went to families: At age 4 1/2, more than 40 percent had anxiety disorders and 4 percent had major depressive disorders. Many also exhibited signs of autism such as “stereotypies,” repetitive behaviors such as rocking and arm-flapping.
In the new study, the team scanned the brains of 74 of the Bucharest children, now ages 8 to 11, using magnetic resonance imaging.
What they found was striking: Brains of children who had remained in institutions had less white matter — the type of tissue that connects different regions of the brain — than orphans who were placed in foster care or children living with their own families.
Reductions in white matter have been found in numerous neurological and psychiatric conditions, including autism, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Study senior author Charles Nelson, a developmental neuroscientist at Children’s Hospital Boston, said the white-matter changes were likely related to a difference that the scientists had noticed earlier in the project: Children in institutions had less electrical activity in their brains — specifically, a kind known as “alpha power” — than those who had gone to foster homes.
“If a normal kid is like a 100-watt light bulb, these kids were a 40-watt light bulb,” Nelson said.
The observed brain differences seem to parallel some of the behavioral differences seen in the different groups of children — notably, higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders in kids who remained in institutions, Nelson said.
But the placements — the children went to families when they were 6 to 31 months old — did not wipe away all problems. Though the children with families were doing better than the children left in institutions, brains of both groups remained far from normal, Nelson said, with less gray matter than children who had been with families all along. Both groups also had significantly higher rates of ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder.
Perhaps, Nelson said, the children were placed in homes too late in life; deprivations they experienced before that time were profound. Children in the orphanages are often left in rooms by themselves for hours at a time with nothing to look at or play with.
“The brain needs stimulation to grow and develop, and we know the Romanian orphans are not getting that stimulation,” Nelson said.
The findings underscore both the potential for recovery from early-life isolation and the devastating reach social deprivation can have even if experienced only for the first few years of life, Nelson said.
Dr. Daniel Geschwind, an autism expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study, said the new report is “fundamental and foundational because it identifies clear structural abnormalities in the brains of these kids. Now we can ask ‘Why?’ What is it about these environments that alters brain structure and function?”
But even without that knowledge in hand, the findings should make U.S. child-welfare officials sit up and pay attention, Geschwind said.
“There’s oodles and oodles of information and data that points to really clear and obvious policy implications: (The) kind of environment a child has from zero to 3 and 3 to 5 is fundamental to their future,” he said.
(c)2012 Los Angeles Times
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