Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect

Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect
Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect

D’load

Read Online


Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect (1993)  Consensus Study Report

Purchase Options MyNAP members save 10% online.Login or Register Buy Paperback:$105.00Download Free PDFRead OnlineOverview

Contributors

National Research Council; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and EducationCommission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and EducationPanel on Research on Child Abuse and Neglect

Description

The tragedy of child abuse and neglect is in the forefront of public attention. Yet, without a conceptual framework, research in this area has been highly fragmented. Understanding the broad dimensions of this crisis has suffered as a result.[read full description]

Topics

Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/2117.

Import this citation to:

Publication Info

408 pages | 6 x 9
Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-309-04889-7
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17226/2117

Families at Risk of Breakdown

Beacon House (UK)

“If a community values its children, it must cherish their parents” – John Bowlby, 1951

At Beacon House, we are passionate about working with networks who are supporting families at risk of breakdown, where children are identified as being ‘In Need’ or meeting criteria for child protection procedures. We also sometimes work directly with families (or their professional networks) where care proceedings have been initiated, where the parties are open in principle to supporting therapeutic intervention prior to a final hearing. Please note that this sometimes requires an extension to standard timescales, as long as this is safe for the child.

The role that we take is somewhat different from that of an independent expert; we commence every piece of work with an overarching question of “What would need to be put in place for everyone in this family to be safe, and have their needs well met?”

Our work is inspired and shaped by the pioneering writing and research of Dr Patricia Crittenden. Crittenden’s key text, ‘Raising Parents’, shines a light on attachment throughout the lifespan, and the impact of parents’ own early years and developmental experiences on their capacity to safely parent their own children.

“Supporting – cherishing – parents is central to caring for their children. Doing so makes emotional sense, functional sense, and economic sense; parents are the only resource that is never cut back. Moreover, they are the architects of society; let’s value all parents and assist those that need help” 

Patricia Crittenden, 2008.

We offer three different pathways for families at risk of breakdown – all with a primary focus of meeting the emotional and psychological needs of the caregiver, and facilitating them to do the same for their children:

  • Case Consultation to the Allocated Social Worker
  • Case Consultation to the Professional Network
  • Parental Therapeutic Needs Assessment

Consultation to the Allocated Social Worker

Why choose this?

This option is useful when:

  • There are parts of a family’s situation that are difficult to understand
  • There are multiple significant needs, and it is difficult to know which to prioritise
  • Things feel ‘stuck’, or expected change is not happening
  • It is difficult to accurately assess risk
  • Aspects of the case are having a powerful impact upon the allocated worker

What is involved?

Key background reading is undertaken by the consulting Psychologist (e.g. chronology, PAMS assessment, assessments by other mental health professionals).

The Allocated Social Worker meets with the consulting Psychologist (either at one of our clinics, or the Social Worker’s usual base), and is guided through the process of developing a trauma and attachment informed, psychological formulation of the case.

The Social Worker is supported to connect with the emotional and psychological impact of the case for them, and thus, understand the ‘helping’ attachment relationship more deeply. This understanding is incorporated in to the formulation.

What happens next?

Initial recommendations are shared during the consultation session. Recommendations are likely to include:

  • Attachment and trauma informed strategies for working with the family
  • Priority needs to be addressed (i.e. those most likely to result in timely change)
  • How to sequence interventions
  • How to optimise the attachment relationship between parents and professionals

A written case formulation will be provided by the consulting Psychologist within two weeks of the consultation.

Case Consultation to the Professional Network

Why choose this?

This is a useful option when:

  • A case is complex, with the potential for risk of harm to children or young people is significant, and a number of different agencies are involved
  • There are parts of a case that are difficult to understand, and there is a lack of consensus within the professional network
  • There are multiple significant needs that require the input of a large number of professionals, and it is difficult to know which to prioritise
  • The professional network is not working as effectively together as everyone would like
  • Professionals, and the family, feel stuck and frustrated
  • Aspects of the case are having a powerful impact upon the all of the professionals involved, which may be manifesting as difficulties in relationships between professionals

What is involved?

Key background reading is undertaken by the consulting Psychologist (e.g. chronology, PAMS assessment, assessments by other mental health professionals)

The entire professional network meets with the consulting Psychologist (either at one of our clinics, or a convenient location for the network), and is guided through the process of developing a trauma and attachment informed, psychological formulation of the case.

Considerable time is dedicated to supporting the entire professional network to connect with the emotional and psychological impact of the case for each individual, and the network as a whole. The patterns of survival, defence, attachment, resilience and compassion within the team will be ‘brought to life’ in the room, and the network will be supported to observe these patterns with acceptance, curiosity and respect. This understanding is incorporated into the formulation.

What happens next?

We ask professional networks to approach these consultations with openness, honesty and self-reflection. Therefore, we do not minute or record what is shared.

In the final part of the meeting, the consulting Psychologist will facilitate the network to bring their reflections together in to a clear and concise plan for future working.

Parental Therapeutic Needs Assessment

Why choose this?

Empirical evidence tells us that the most powerful way to meet the emotional and psychological needs of a child is to meet the emotional and psychological needs of their caregiver. Creating a safe and secure care environment in the home has more profound and long-lasting impact than any individual therapy provision or even a number of discrete therapies.

Working alongside West Sussex County Council, we have developed a specialism in meeting the therapeutic needs of vulnerable parents. Often, parents come to us with a history of significant adversity, disruption, loss and trauma. They may have been removed from their own birth family. They may have insecure and mistrustful attachments with professional caregivers. They may find it difficult to relate openly to ‘help’, as help may feel threatening, overwhelming, or confusing.

A Parental Therapeutic Needs Assessment may be appropriate when there is a recognition that a parent’s own psychological and emotional vulnerabilities are serving to inhibit their capacity to parent their own children in the way that they would want to. We are very happy to work alongside statutory services to proactively engage parents who are anxious, ambivalent or unsure.

What is involved?

We commence all of our assessments with a professional network meeting. It is really important for parents to know that all of the professionals around them are working together in a joined-up way, and that there is an overall commitment to supporting them therapeutically. This meeting happens with the knowledge of the parent, but they would not usually be in attendance. This is an opportunity for professionals to share both their concerns and their hopes.

Following this, we would typically undertake any background reading, and meet with the parent over two to three hours to complete a clinical interview and administer psychological measures. Our aim is to develop a psychological ‘formulation’ of the parent’s difficulties, both as an adult in their own right, and as a parent. This involves developing an understanding of:

  • The parent’s own early years environment, early experiences of care, and developmental experiences.
  • The story of the parent’s key transitional stages (e.g. childhood to adolescence, adolescence to adulthood).
  • Understanding any significant life events, including the experience of becoming a parent.
  • A detailed picture of how difficulty and distress impact upon daily life, including the challenges of parenting.
  • The factors that seem to make things worse, or stop them from getting better.
  • How the parent experiences ‘help’, in the context of their own attachment pattern, and how they relate to professional caregivers.
  • The parent’s strengths, resources, skills and qualities.

All of this information is then brought together, underpinned by psychological theory and research evidence. We draw upon this understanding to generate our therapeutic recommendations for the parent.

What happens next?

Our assessment letter will be ready within three weeks of the last assessment appointment. This letter will include our formulation, and detailed recommendations for the type of therapeutic intervention that we think would be most helpful. We will invite the parent and allocated Social Worker to come back to meet with us face-to-face, to share our formulation and therapeutic recommendations. We usually conduct this meeting in two parts, allowing the parent to be the first person that our feedback is shared with.

Where therapeutic intervention is recommended, a phased programme will be devised, allowing the commissioning service to regularly review progress before commissioning the next phase. Please see ‘How will progress be reviewed?’

The psychological interventions that we use with vulnerable parents include:

  • Cognitive Analytic Therapy
  • Comprehensive Resource Model
  • Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing
  • Integrative Psychotherapy
  • Internal Family Systems Therapy
  • Mentalization Based Treatment
  • Schema Therapy
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

If, as part of a Parental Therapeutic Needs Assessment, it becomes clear that the parent-child relationship could be further supported by a dyadic intervention, this will form part of our recommendations. Most often, individual intervention with parents will be sequenced to take place before their child is brought into a therapeutic space with them.

How will progress be reviewed?

Therapeutic progress is something which is continually reviewed throughout the intervention. During the feedback and treatment planning meeting with the parent and Social Worker, the intervals for review will be agreed. Review can take the form of a telephone call between therapist and Social Worker, a written report, or a professional’s review meeting.

Alongside this, we have three main ways that we evaluate therapeutic progress:

  1. During the Therapeutic Needs Assessment, the parent will be asked to fill out a number of questionnaires, which will be re-administered at the end of each piece of work.
  2. At the start of the therapeutic intervention, the parent will be asked to identify three therapeutic goals, and scale them to show how well they feel they are achieving those goals. We will review these goals and the scaling at the end of therapy.
  3. At the end of therapy, both parent and referrer will be asked to tell us how satisfied you feel with your experience of coming to Beacon House, and whether you feel the difficulties you have been working on have improved.

How do I make a referral?

You can request a referral form by contacting the clinic on 01444 413939. Alternatively, you can email admin@beaconhouse.org.uk. Please specify which service you are requesting: case consultation, professional network case consultation, or therapeutic needs assessment and your preference of whether the work should take place from our Cuckfield or Chichester clinic. If you are unsure of the right option, please feel free to request a free of charge initial telephone conversation with Dr Laura France, Adult Services Lead, to help you to select the most appropriate service.

Your referral form and supporting documentation will be reviewed by our Adult Services Lead, who will then provide an estimate within three working days. We are usually able to commence work immediately on the receipt of a Purchase Order number. We do not have a waiting list and can usually organise the first appointment within two weeks.

Safeguarding

Our commitment to working therapeutically with parents is rooted in our commitment to the safety, protection and well-being of children. Please see our Safeguarding Policy here.


Getting in Touch

If you have any questions about our services please feel free to pick up the phone to us on 01444 413 939 or send us an email on admin@beaconhouse.org.uk, we welcome informal conversations about whether we are the right service for you. To make a referral please click here.

(Please do not send Post or attend for Therapy)
Registered Name Beacon House Psychological Services Ltd
Registered in England and Wales.
Registered Address AD5 Littlehampton Marina, Ferry Road, Littlehampton BN17 5DS
Registered No: 09205920
Chichester 01243 219 900Cuckfield 01444 413 939Enquiry: Message Us

Responsive site designed and developed byClick to go Madison Web Solutions’ websiteWe use cookies to help improve your experience of this website. By using this website, you agree to accept cookies from this site.


RETRIEVED https://beaconhouse.org.uk/specialist-clinics/families-at-risk-of-breakdown/

The Elephant in the Room campaign


#shrinktheelephant

PARCS have been taking conversations about the elephant in the room out of the centre and in to the local Portsmouth community since we were established by a group of local women in 1981. Our aim is to raise consciousness, challenging victim blaming narratives and rape myths, and to offer support and signposting to survivors of sexual abuse.

Our current outreach and education programmes are co-produced with the communities they hope to engage and work to challenge and disrupt the ever-present societal and cultural narratives of sexual violence. While our consciousness raising work has developed we believe the messages we took out in 1981 to be just as relevant now.

We believe that every community has a part to play in responding to and preventing sexual violence and that we all have the power to shrink the impact of the trauma caused by sexual abuse.

In 2016, following the launch from The Survivors Trust “Elephant in the Room campaign” we purchased a 10ft inflatable elephant and since then the elephant has attended hundreds of events including Portsmouth Pride, The Great South Run, Victorious, The South Coast Festival and many local Portsmouth schools and colleges. 

The Elephant in the Room has also featured in many of our awareness campaigns and this year we launched a series of posters of the Elephant at “home” and out in Portsmouth City, in response to the impact of sexual abuse during the pandemic.

Launched in August, 2020 #ShrinkTheElephant is our new campaign created during lockdown by a group of young women volunteering to train as young leaders and activists through Project Catalyst.

The aim of the campaign is to raise consciousness of the impact of sexual abuse in our local communities through photography. Many of the photo’s for the campaign have been taken by young people out in and around Portsmouth as well as in homes during lockdown with the aim of highlighting that HOME is not always a safe place for survivors of sexual abuse no matter how long ago the abuse happened.

The Elephant has gone on tour in the next chapter of the #shrinktheelephant campaign and with support from Strong Island and many local photographers we will be holding a local exhibition to showcase the images of the Elephant in and around Hampshire. We will also be running a photography competition for young people, aged 18 and under, from the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire area. To enter simply find an elephant model of your choice and capture your photos of the Elephant in the Room then tag us on Instagram @shrinktheelephant. If you prefer you can also DM us your photos if you wish them to be posted anonymously. More on this and information about prizes coming soon.

For more information on Project Catalyst or if you are interested in becoming a PARCS activist contact us: projectcatalyst@parcs.org.uk or for more information on the Elephant in the Room campaign contact us: admin@parcs.org.uk


RETRIEVED https://www.parcs.org.uk/index.php/activities/elephant-in-the-room

Scientists Have Found a Strong Link Between a Terrible Childhood And Being Intensely Creative

MICHELLE STARR 8 MAY 2018

Performing artists who were exposed to abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family as a child might experience their creative process more intensely, according to a new long-term study that has found a link between the two.https://bc67c5507046c5114c00f19acd7fd6d0.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Psychologists at California State University, Northridge, studied 234 professional performers, looking for a reason why mental health disorders are so common in the performing arts.

“The notion that artists and performing artists suffered more pathology, including bipolar disorder, troubled us,” dance coordinator and psychologist Paula Thomson, a co-author on the new study, told Psypost.

“No one seemed willing to also include the effects of early childhood adversity and adult trauma and its influence on creativity and psychopathology.”

The study examined 83 actors, directors, and designers; 129 dancers; and 20 musicians and opera singers. These study participants filled out self-report surveys pertaining to childhood adversity, sense of shame, creative experiences, proneness to fantasies, anxiety, and level of engagement in an activity.

The study found that, compared to the original Adverse Childhood Experiences study conducted back in 1998 on 9,508 adults, performing artists as a group reported a higher level of childhood emotional abuse and neglect.

The participants were able to be categorised into three groups: those who reported a high level of childhood adversity; those who had experienced a lower or medium level; and those who had experienced little to none.null

It’s the high-level group that demonstrated the greater extremes. These performing artists had much higher anxiety, much more internalised shame, and reported more cumulative past traumatic events. They were also more prone to fantasies.

But they also seemed more connected with the creative process, the researchers said. They were more aware of it, and reported feeling more absorbed in it. They reported heightened awareness of a state of inspiration and a sense of discovery during the process.

They were also able to move more easily between the state of absorption and a more distant state for critical awareness, and were more receptive to art.

“Lastly,” the researchers wrote, “[this] group identified greater appreciation for the transformational quality of creativity, in particular, how the creative process enabled a deeper engagement with the self and world. They recognised that it operated as a powerful force in their life.”

Obviously the study has caveats, as self-reported studies can be prone to personal bias. Also, since it was limited to performing artists, comparisons couldn’t easily be made with other subsets of the population.

Nevertheless, the finding, the researchers said, may indicate that adult performers who have experienced childhood adversity are better able to recognise and value the creative process; and the ability of that group to enjoy the creative process could indicate resilience.

“We are saddened by the number of participants in our study who have suffered multiple forms of childhood adversity as well as adult assaults (both sexual and non-sexual),” Thomson told Psypost.

“So many participants in our sample have experienced poly-traumatization and yet they also embrace their passion for performance and creativity. They are embracing ways to express all that is human.”

The research has been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.


RETRIEVED https://www.sciencealert.com/childhood-adversity-linked-to-intense-creative-process

Creativity’s CSA Impact | performing arts + child sexual abuse

Long suspected throughout many CSA Victims’ childhoods, in 2018 Scientific Alert published the following article on the proven-identified link: “Scientists Have Found a Strong Link Between a Terrible Childhood And Being Intensely Creative”. Opening with ‘exposure to abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family’ throughout a victim’s childhood, expands to join together how these impacts have a clear linkage. Complemented through Counselling and verifying some Victims’ long-held suspicions, this Article gives another (Scientific/Journalistic) POV – which may also satisfy those of us who often felt disbelieved, palmed-away or ignored. We knew what we were/had survived; we just didn’t know how to word, or should I say ‘Scientifically categorise’ what we ‘endured’! … WTF ?!!!… we were only young, innocent kids at their time: the perfect hunting ground, for these Criminal-Pedophilic-Dirty-(typically)-Senior/Old-(WO)-Men.

I apologise for going off on an emotional-outburst, yet this is a toned-down form of many of the conversations had with Victims, Parents and Relations; Thankfully, their mutual aim is to protect this triggering news from younger Siblings; As horrifying as this possibility is to consider, perhaps this is (another) layer of defence which the Criminal-Pedophilic-Dirty-(typically)-Senior/Old-(WO)-Men know of + exploit. Having (naturally?) always having entered the Arts, this Article gives many reasons and answers questions, yet more interests may be shown. Perhaps this is an underlying advantage of Creativity, yet CSA Survivours I’ve spent any time with each have their own ‘checklists’ to work through. At this point, I’ll aim to re-publish the complete Article ASAP, in addition to again providing the Private + Confidential Counsellors. Of great interest, is the amount of focus I am working through with my Counsellor on the “minor and inconsiderate” events, which are actually mounting up to explain the devastating impact which may result.

Hopes are that each of you, your loved ones and each of our ecosystems copes alright throughout this COVID19  Pandemic.

/                 /                 /                 RECENT SEARCH

Performing artists who were exposed to abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family as a child might experience their creative process more … https://www.sciencealert.com/childhood-adversity-linked-to-intense-creative-process

/                 /                 /

REFERENCE

Starr, M. (2018). Scientists Have Found a Strong Link Between a Terrible Childhood And Being Intensely Creative. https://www.sciencealert.com/childhood-adversity-linked-to-intense-creative-process

Growing number of CSA Victims

Over the weekend before Australia Day (Fri-Mon 17-20 Jan 20) there was a dramatic leap in Viewers of our RCbbc Blog! As shown, by the following jump in Stat’s, there was a profound interest in recent Statements of Past Students + their Families. Of great intrigue, is the increased overlaps between publicly reported instances of ChildSexualAbuse and the Elite levels of society. Throughout many countries, schools and religions there is commonly cases of the ‘untouchable Elites’ overpowering the ‘lower, working class’.

Daily Statistics – Views + Visitors
Sun 19.01.20 selected

It’s particularly worth noting that BBC’s current Headmaster, Paul Brown has removed the abilities of ‘Low SES backgrounds’ Applicants to be favoured in Scholarship + Bursary Applications. Whilst this may be a short-term remedy, the human nature of pedophiles will continue. As demonstrated by numerous current + previous staff, animal instinct is to shift to another ‘hunting ground’, or strategically-further-seclude their predator behaviours. Cessation (stopping) is not an option, after experiencing BBC’s earlier scenarios.

Socioeconomic-status
http://www.apa.org/advocacy/socioeconomic-status/index.aspx

Counselling is also worth noting as a great resource, as after countless solo attempts even further detail has become revealed of my own BBC Old Boys’ abuses. This brings to mind the saying that “there’s more than one way to ‘skin a 🐈’”.

Translation errors

Errors in translation

Of particular interest, is the notable leaps in visitors from non-English (ESL) countries. Noting that BBC has been & continues to aim to build on its international reputation, this past begins in asking what issues may occur in translations of our posts. As collected from various sources, including “Translation errors and forgeries in the Bible”, which many excuses wrongly using “in the name of God” to hide suspicious behaviours. Anything, anybody may find doubtful, at any institution should now be followed-up with GOVERNMENT Departments of relevant States.


Qld Government provide further info, outlining some Information to provide. Reporting child abuse | Community support | Qld.gov.au. The information includes:

  • details about the child or young person (e.g. name, age, address)
  • details about the parents or other relevant persons
  • the reasons you suspect the child or young person may have experienced or is at risk of experiencing harm
  • whether or not the child, young person or family has support
  • the immediate risk to the child or young person
  • contact details for the family.

Online child sex exploitation information, is provided by the AFP (Australian Federal Police). The information includes:

“Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect”, is from the AIFS (Australian Institute of Family Studies). This paper outlines the complex mix of both schools/education, within different states yet included in the same country. The information includes:

  • Abuse & neglect
  • Reporting & reporters
  • How mandatory reporting legislation defines a child (per state)
  • Co-existing reporting laws
  • Other challenging issues …

RETRIEVED

Do families have minds in the past?

Throughout the counselling I am regularly receiving, something which often gets raised is that although there’s quite a list of TYPES of child sexual abuse:

“minds in the past, families have” search result.
  • physical abuse,
  • physical neglect,
  • emotional or mental abuse, and
  • sexual abuse and includes signs, symptoms, and behavioral indicators of abuse.

There may be other TYPES, yet this is just a small example of where ‘traditional’ understanding clashes with the actual impact, victims try to live with, 247, also coping with COVID-19, trying to deal with Climate Change …

Adult survivors of child sexual abuse: how counselling helps

Virginia Sherborne MBACP (Accred.)

By Virginia Sherborne MBACP (Accred.) Published on 30th August, 2010


For many survivors, counselling may be the first time they have ever disclosed the abuse. They may have been locked into silence for years or even decades. Telling the counsellor can bring tremendous relief. On the other hand, some survivors may have revealed the abuse previously, only to be met with disbelief or rejection. Being heard and believed for the first time is an immensely important experience.

Trust

Trust is a difficult issue for most survivors of abuse. They may find it impossible to trust anyone: anyone could be a potential abuser. Others, though, have a problem with trusting too easily. As children, they weren’t able to learn who to trust and who not to, so in adult life, they are not able to use their gut instinct to recognise situations that would make other people feel uncomfortable. This means they can find themselves getting into abusive relationships and dangerous situations. 

Counsellors are trained to be trustworthy with respect to confidentiality, reliability and other boundary issues. Experiencing a trusting relationship with the counsellor allows the client to re-set their capacity to trust other human beings.

Childhood abuse

Childhood sexual abuse is traumatic in many different ways, and children often learn to protect themselves by splitting off their awareness of the abuse. This process is called dissociation, and it is almost like self-hypnosis. 

A consequence of dissociation can be that adult survivors experience terrifying flashbacks of the abuse, which don’t feel like real memories. A trained counsellor can help the client to understand the process of dissociation, so that they are less frightened, and can begin to re-integrate their memories.

Many survivors have feelings of intense shame, which they carry with them all the time. Telling their story to a counsellor, who is always non-judgmental, allows them to see things from a different perspective. They may realise for the first time just how young and vulnerable they were when the abuse took place. 

The counsellor will emphasise that a child is never to blame, no matter how persuasively the abuser tells them that they are. Hearing from an expert that their experience was typical can bring huge release from shame. Instead, feelings of anger and grief may surface, which the counsellor can help to deal with safely.

Counselling for sexual abuse

Counsellors who are trained and experienced in working with sexual abuse are used to hearing very shocking and upsetting accounts. For the client, being able to share details which once seemed unbearable for another person to hear can bring great comfort, and again can help to dissolve feelings of shame. Current issues, no matter how painful, can be brought up in a supportive, non-judgmental environment.

For the counsellor and client to work through the many issues arising from childhood sexual abuse can take a while, but eventually, the aim is that the client feels ready to move on, leaving counselling feeling more empowered and more free to live their life.


RETRIEVED https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/memberarticles/adult-survivors-of-child-sexual-abuse-how-counselling-helps

Find a counsellor or psychotherapist dealing with abuse … CARC & NRS.

Experiencing childhood trauma makes body and brain age faster: study

1 day ago
American Psychological Association
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Children who suffer trauma from abuse or violence early in life show biological signs of aging faster than children who have never experienced adversity, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. The study examined three different signs of biological aging—early puberty, cellular aging and changes in brain structure—and found that trauma exposure was associated with all three.

“Exposure to adversity in childhood is a powerful predictor of health outcomes later in life—not only mental health outcomes like depression and anxiety, but also physical health outcomes like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer,” said Katie McLaughlin, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Harvard University and senior author of the study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin. “Our study suggests that experiencing violence can make the body age more quickly at a biological level, which may help to explain that connection.”

Previous research found mixed evidence on whether childhood adversity is always linked to accelerated aging. However, those studies looked at many different types of adversity—abuse, neglect, poverty and more—and at several different measures of biological aging. To disentangle the results, McLaughlin and her colleagues decided to look separately at two categories of adversity: threat-related adversity, such as abuse and violence, and deprivation-related adversity, such as physical or emotional neglect or poverty.

The researchers performed a meta-analysis of almost 80 studies, with more than 116,000 total participants. They found that children who suffered threat-related trauma such as violence or abuse were more likely to enter puberty early and also showed signs of accelerated aging on a cellular level-including shortened telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of our strands of DNA that wear down as we age. However, children who experienced poverty or neglect did not show either of those signs of early aging.

In a second analysis, McLaughlin and her colleagues systematically reviewed 25 studies with more than 3,253 participants that examined how early-life adversity affects brain development. They found that adversity was associated with reduced cortical thickness—a sign of aging because the cortex thins as people age. However, different types of adversity were associated with cortical thinning in different parts of the brain. Trauma and violence were associated with thinning in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is involved in social and emotional processing, while deprivation was more often associated with thinning in the frontoparietal, default mode and visual networks, which are involved in sensory and cognitive processing.

These types of accelerated aging might originally have descended from useful evolutionary adaptations, according to McLaughlin. In a violent and threat-filled environment, for example, reaching puberty earlier could make people more likely to be able to reproduce before they die. And faster development of brain regions that play a role in emotion processing could help children identify and respond to threats, keeping them safer in dangerous environments. But these once-useful adaptations may have grave health and mental health consequences in adulthood.

The new research underscores the need for early interventions to help avoid those consequences. All of the studies looked at accelerated aging in children and adolescents under age 18. “The fact that we see such consistent evidence for faster aging at such a young age suggests that the biological mechanisms that contribute to health disparities are set in motion very early in life. This means that efforts to prevent these health disparities must also begin during childhood,” McLaughlin said.

There are numerous evidence-based treatments that can improve mental health in children who have experienced trauma, McLaughlin said. “A critical next step is determining whether these psychosocial interventions might also be able to slow down this pattern of accelerated biological aging. If this is possible, we may be able to prevent many of the long-term health consequences of early-life adversity,” she says.


More information: “Biological Aging in Childhood and Adolescence Following Experiences of Threat and Deprivation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Psychological Bulletin (2020). DOI: 10.1037/bul0000270

Journal information: Psychological Bulletin

Provided by American Psychological Association


RETRIEVED https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-experiencing-childhood-trauma-body-brain.amp?__twitter_impression=true