Journal: Child abuse & neglect
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as child abuse are related to poor health outcomes. Spanking has indicated a similar association with health outcomes, but to date has not been considered an ACE. Physical and emotional abuse have been shown in previous research to correlate highly and may be similar in nature to spanking. To determine if spanking should be considered an ACE, this study aimed to examine 1): the grouping of spanking with physical and emotional abuse; and 2) if spanking has similar associations with poor adult health problems and accounts for additional model variance. Adult mental health problems included depressive affect, suicide attempts, moderate to heavy drinking, and street drug use. Data were from the CDC-Kaiser ACE study (N=8316, response rate=65%). Spanking loaded on the same factor as the physical and emotional abuse items. Additionally, spanking was associated with increased odds of suicide attempts (Adjusted Odds Ratios (AOR)=1.37; 95% CI=1.02 to1.86), moderate to heavy drinking (AOR)=1.23; 95% CI=1.07 to 1.41), and the use of street drugs (AOR)=1.32; 95% CI=1.4 to 1.52) in adulthood over and above experiencing physical and emotional abuse. This indicates spanking accounts for additional model variance and improves our understanding of these outcomes. Thus, spanking is empirically similar to physical and emotional abuse and including spanking with abuse adds to our understanding of these mental health problems. Spanking should also be considered an ACE and addressed in efforts to prevent violence.
Childhood adversity negatively impacts the biological development of children and has been linked to poor health outcomes across the life course. The purpose of this literature review is to explore and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions that have addressed an array of biological markers and physical health outcomes in children and adolescents affected by adversity. PubMed, CINAHL, PsychInfo, Sociological Abstracts databases and additional sources (Cochrane, WHO, NIH trial registries) were searched for English language studies published between January 2007 and September 2017. Articles with a childhood adversity exposure, biological health outcome, and evaluation of intervention using a randomized controlled trial study design were selected. The resulting 40 intervention studies addressed cortisol outcomes (n = 20) and a range of neurological, epigenetic, immune, and other outcomes (n = 22). Across institutional, foster care, and community settings, intervention programs demonstrated success overall for improving or normalizing morning and diurnal cortisol levels, and ameliorating the impacts of adversity on brain development, epigenetic regulation, and additional outcomes in children. Factors such as earlier timing of intervention, high quality and nurturant parenting traits, and greater intervention engagement played a role in intervention success. This study underlines progress and promise in addressing the health impacts of adversity in children. Ongoing research efforts should collect baseline data, improve retention, replicate studies in additional samples and settings, and evaluate additional variables, resilience factors, mediators, and long-term implications of results. Clinicians should integrate lessons from the intervention sciences for preventing and treating the health effects of adversity in children and adolescents.
Spanking is one of the most common forms of child discipline used by parents around the world. Research on children in high-income countries has shown that parental spanking is associated with adverse child outcomes, yet less is known about how spanking is related to child well-being in low- and middle-income countries. This study uses data from 215,885 children in 62 countries from the fourth and fifth rounds of UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) to examine the relationship between spanking and child well-being. In this large international sample which includes data from nearly one-third of the world’s countries, 43% of children were spanked, or resided in a household where another child was spanked, in the past month. Results from multilevel models show that reports of spanking of children in the household were associated with lower scores on a 3-item socioemotional development index among 3- and 4-year-old children. Country-level results from the multilevel model showed 59 countries (95%) had a negative relationship between spanking and socioemotional development and 3 countries (5%) had a null relationship. Spanking was not associated with higher socioemotional development for children in any country. While the cross-sectional association between spanking and socioemotional development is small, findings suggest that spanking may be harmful for children on a more global scale than was previously known.
OBJECTIVES: In comparison to other traumatic events, the impact of a childhood during war on resilience later in life has been seldom examined. The aim of this study was therefore to examine the long term outcomes of post-traumatic responses and resilience of a sample of adult Indigenous Quechua women, who were girls or adolescents during the Peruvian armed conflict (1980-1995). METHODS: The study instruments (Harvard Trauma Questionnaire Part I and IV; Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale; Life Stress Questionnaire) were translated to Quechua and cross-culturally validated. A cross sectional survey design was used in 2010 to collect data from a convenience sample of 75 participants (25-45 years old) in Ayacucho, Peru, the region most affected by the conflict. Data was examined using hierarchical regression analyses. RESULTS: Participants reported extreme exposure to violence (e.g., sexual violence, torture, combat, death of family members, and forced displacement) during the armed conflict, but surprisingly, only 5.3% reported a current level of symptoms that may indicate a possible post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Resilience scores and number of years exposed to conflict as a child were not associated with PTSD symptoms; instead only the degree of exposure to violence, and current level of stress contributed to the variance of PTSD-related symptoms. Conversely, resilience and current stress contributed to the variance of trauma symptoms when measured by local idioms of distress. CONCLUSIONS: Findings should be interpreted with caution, due to limitations in the content validity of instruments, risk of inaccurate recall, use of individual explanations of distress (such as PTSD) for collective experiences of violence, use of non-indigenous frameworks to examine Indigenous resilience, and other methodological concerns. The study however highlights the high degree of traumatic exposure of these former war children. While the prevalence of potential PTSD was astonishingly low in this sample, a number of women still suffer from significant distress two decades after the traumatic events. Therefore, post-conflict interventions should renew efforts to foster the resilience of marginalized populations disproportionately targeted by violence and advocate for enhanced protection of women and children in current armed conflicts.
In cases of maltreatment involving children of U.S. Army service members, the U.S. Army Family Advocacy Program (FAP) is responsible for providing services to families and ensuring child safety. The percentage of cases of maltreatment that are known to FAP, however, is uncertain. Thus, the objective of this retrospective study was to estimate the percentage of U.S. Army dependent children with child maltreatment as diagnosed by a military or civilian medical provider who had a substantiated report with FAP from 2004 to 2007. Medical claims data were used to identify 0-17year old child dependents of soldiers who received a medical diagnosis of child maltreatment. Linkage rates of maltreatment medical diagnoses with corresponding substantiated FAP reports were calculated. Bivariate and multivariable analyses examined the association of child, maltreatment episode, and soldier characteristics with linkage to substantiated FAP reports. Across 5945 medically diagnosed maltreatment episodes, 20.3% had a substantiated FAP report. Adjusting for covariates, the predicted probability of linkage to a substantiated FAP report was higher for physical abuse than for sexual abuse, 25.8%, 95% CI (23.4, 28.3) versus 14.5%, 95% CI (11.2, 17.9). Episodes in which early care was provided at civilian treatment facilities were less likely to have a FAP report than those treated at military facilities, 9.8%, 95% CI (7.3, 12.2) versus 23.6%, 95% CI (20.8, 26.4). The observed low rates of linkage of medically diagnosed child maltreatment to substantiated FAP reports may signal the need for further regulation of FAP reporting requirements, particularly for children treated at civilian facilities.
The present study investigated the perceived emotional behavior of alleged child victims when disclosing sexual abuse in a forensic interview. It also addressed whether the perceived emotional behavior influenced prosecutors' evaluations of children’s potential as witnesses and prosecutors' recommendations to press charges. Ninety-eight videotapes of forensic interviews with alleged child sexual abuse victims (4- to 17-year-olds) were coded for behavioral indicators of emotions. Case file information and district attorney evaluations were also coded. Results indicated that children were not generally perceived as being emotional (e.g., sad) during disclosure. However, the perceived intensity of expressed emotions was greater when children disclosed the alleged abuse compared to when they discussed more neutral topics in rapport building. Greater perceived emotional withdrawal by children at disclosure was associated with more negative evaluations of child witnesses by prosecutors. Moreover, children’s emotional behaviors, as noted by prosecutors, were among the predictors of prosecutors' recommendations to file charges. Practical implications are discussed.
The present study provides an estimate of the U.S. economic impact of child sexual abuse (CSA). Costs of CSA were measured from the societal perspective and include health care costs, productivity losses, child welfare costs, violence/crime costs, special education costs, and suicide death costs. We separately estimated quality-adjusted life year (QALY) losses. For each category, we used the best available secondary data to develop cost per case estimates. All costs were estimated in U.S. dollars and adjusted to the reference year 2015. Estimating 20 new cases of fatal and 40,387 new substantiated cases of nonfatal CSA that occurred in 2015, the lifetime economic burden of CSA is approximately $9.3 billion, the lifetime cost for victims of fatal CSA per female and male victim is on average $1,128,334 and $1,482,933, respectively, and the average lifetime cost for victims of nonfatal CSA is of $282,734 per female victim. For male victims of nonfatal CSA, there was insufficient information on productivity losses, contributing to a lower average estimated lifetime cost of $74,691 per male victim. If we included QALYs, these costs would increase by approximately $40,000 per victim. With the exception of male productivity losses, all estimates were based on robust, replicable incidence-based costing methods. The availability of accurate, up-to-date estimates should contribute to policy analysis, facilitate comparisons with other public health problems, and support future economic evaluations of CSA-specific policy and practice. In particular, we hope the availability of credible and contemporary estimates will support increased attention to primary prevention of CSA.
Harsh or frequent spanking in early childhood is an established risk factor for later childhood behavioral problems as well as mental disorder in adulthood in Western societies. However, few studies have been conducted in Asian populations, where corporal punishment is relatively accepted. Moreover, the impacts of occasional spanking on subsequent behavioral problems remain uncertain. This study sought to investigate prospectively the association between the frequency of spanking of toddlers and later behavioral problems in Japanese children using national birth cohort data. We used data from the Longitudinal Survey of Newborns in the 21st Century, a population-based birth cohort data set collected by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (N=29,182). Frequency of spanking (“never”, “sometimes” and “always”) and child behavioral problems were assessed via a caregiver questionnaire when the child was 3.5 years old and again at 5.5 years. Propensity score matching was used to examine the association between frequency of spanking and child behavioral problems, adjusting for parental socioeconomic status, child temperament and parenting behaviors. Compared to children who were never spanked, occasional spanking (“sometimes”) showed a higher number of behavioral problems (on a 6-point scale) (coefficient: 0.11, 95% CI: 0.07-0.15), and frequent spanking (“always”) showed an even larger number of behavioral problems compared with “sometimes” (coefficient: 0.08, 95% CI:0.01-0.16). Spanking of any self-reported frequency was associated with an increased risk for later behavioral problems in children.
As indicated by research on the long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), maltreatment has far-reaching consequences for affected children. Effective prevention measures have been elusive, partly due to difficulty in identifying vulnerable children before they are harmed. This study employs Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM), an analysis of the cumulative effect of environmental factors thought to be conducive for child maltreatment, to create a highly accurate prediction model for future substantiated child maltreatment cases in the City of Fort Worth, Texas. The model is superior to commonly used hotspot predictions and more beneficial in aiding prevention efforts in a number of ways: 1) it identifies the highest risk areas for future instances of child maltreatment with improved precision and accuracy; 2) it aids the prioritization of risk-mitigating efforts by informing about the relative importance of the most significant contributing risk factors; 3) since predictions are modeled as a function of easily obtainable data, practitioners do not have to undergo the difficult process of obtaining official child maltreatment data to apply it; 4) the inclusion of a multitude of environmental risk factors creates a more robust model with higher predictive validity; and, 5) the model does not rely on a retrospective examination of past instances of child maltreatment, but adapts predictions to changing environmental conditions. The present study introduces and examines the predictive power of this new tool to aid prevention efforts seeking to improve the safety, health, and wellbeing of vulnerable children.
We examine associations between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and substance abuse, the role of mental health indicators as mediators in these associations and whether or not associations differ by gender. Data are from 14,063 respondents aged 18-76 years from the 2004-2005 Canadian Gender, Alcohol, and Culture: An International Study (GENACIS). Multiple logistic regression models were used to examine associations between CSA and substance abuse variables, controlling for socio-demographic factors. Odds were adjusted by indicators of mental health to assess if these variables mediated associations between CSA and substance abuse. Tests of interactions between sex and CSA were conducted to see if gender differences exist in associations. In 2004/2005, CSA was reported by 14% of women and 5% of men. CSA was associated with heavy drinking, hazardous drinking, and the use of marijuana, other illicit drugs, and off-label drugs. Associations were only very marginally attenuated when controlling for depression and self-perceived emotional/mental health. In all cases previously observed significant associations persisted. Evidence of gender differences in associations between CSA and substance abuse was negligible. Preventing CSA may also reduce substance abuse.