About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Child Neglect and Adult PTSD Statistics & Guidelines

Child Neglect & Adult PTSD Stats & Guidelines

Child Neglect and Adult PTSD

Child neglect is more common than you might think.

Comfort, nourishment, shelter, and care should be things that a child can take for granted. Unfortunately, child neglect is a rampant problem that statistically exceeds child physical and sexual abuse in the U.S. 2006 reporting statistics by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services concluded that:
  • Children in the U.S. were abused or neglected at the rate of 1.23%
  • Out of that number, 64.2% experienced neglect
  • 1,530 children died of abuse or neglect that year
  • Roughly half the victims were of each sex, with only a slightly higher incidence of neglect victims being female
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System defines neglect as "a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure by the caregiver to provide needed, age-appropriate care although financially able to do so or offered financial or other means to do so." (USDHHS, 2007) Neglect is a unique type of trauma because only children (and, in some cases, dependant adults) are susceptible. In order to experience neglect, a person must be reliant on others for their physical and emotional wellbeing. This vulnerability means that victims of child neglect are predisposed to experiencing related trauma (including PTSD) later in life.

Physical Neglect - Children need the same basic necessities as everyone: food, clothing, shelter. However, they are reliant on others to provide these necessities. If a provider is not ensuring that their trustee is given these essentials, it is considered neglect. Physical neglect might mean that a parent is neglecting to provide adequately nutritious meals consistently, or it might mean that a parent has literally abandoned their child.
Educational neglect - Failure to provide a child with adequate education in the form of enrolling them in school or providing adequate home schooling. Not providing a stable home environment that will enable the child to participate in school, chronic tardiness and absence due to the parents inability to get the child to school punctually, getting the child to school dirty, hungry, sleepy, sick and distressed. 
Emotional neglect - Consistently ignoring, rejecting, verbally abusing, teasing, withholding love, isolating, or terrorizing a child. Emotional neglect can also include subjecting a child to corruptive or exploitative situations (such as illegal drug use).
Medical neglect - American Humane.org cites Medical Neglect as "the failure to provide appropriate health care for a child (although financially able to do so), thus placing the child at risk of being seriously disabled or disfigured or dying." Of all the types of neglect, this is the trickiest to diagnose because religious or financial factors can play an adverse role in a child receiving appropriate medical care.
According to Child Welfare.gov, child neglect can lead to problems as an adult which may include: 3
Physical consequences - such as failure of the brain to develop properly due to malnutrition and other medical issues; also, poor physical health in general which can lead to an array of problems later on
Psychological consequences - low self esteem, problems maintaining healthy relationships, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, suicide attempts, cognitive learning disability, social disabilities, and other issues
Behavioral consequences - juvenile delinquency, alcohol and drug abuse, criminal or abusive behavior.
The dangers of neglect can be dire for a child's healthy development. Without proper care, children are in danger of not developing properly due to malnutrition, physical injury, or illness. But the hidden danger of child neglect - the one that may not be apparent for many years but which can stick with a person for their lifetime - is the risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that can affect them psychologically and emotionally in the long-term.
The psychological principle of attachment theory proposes that children become psychologically attached to their caregivers (and particularly their mothers) as infants in order to establish a vital sense of security. 4 In nature's terms, keeping a child attached to the mother increases its chances of survival. So it stands to reason that being neglected is an affront to the "healthy, normal" sense of attachment that nature desires for children to have with their caregiver(s).
According to extensive research done by psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1970's (published in her groundbreaking study Strange Situation), "What happens to children who do not form secure attachments? Research suggests that failure to form secure attachments early in life can have a negative impact on behavior in later childhood and throughout their life. Children diagnosed with oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), or (PTSD) frequently display attachment problems, possibly due to early abuse, neglect, or trauma. In other words, children who experience neglect early in life may be at risk for a lifetime of trouble attaching properly in relationships.
Another reason that child neglect can lead to such a wide array of development and psychological problems is that children (particularly, infants) need a certain amount and type of input for their brain development to proceed normally through it's various growth states. When deprived of appropriate input and stimulation, the brain may not develop normally, and this can affect brain functioning later on, which can affect an individual in many ways.
Not all children who experience neglect will experience long-term reactions. Factors determining whether the effects of abuse will be long-term include: 
  1. The child's age when the neglect occurred
  2. The type of neglect
  3. The frequency and duration

Child Neglect (known as an "act of omission".) On the other end of the spectrum of Child Abuse is physical abuse, an act of commission.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics for 2006, approximately 905,000 U.S. children were found to have been maltreated that year, with 16% of them reported as physically abused (the remainder having suffered sexual abuse or neglect.)  In other studies, it's been noted that approximately 14-43% of children have experienced at least one traumatic abusive event prior to adulthood. And according to The American Humane Association (AHA), an estimated 1,460 children died in 2005 of abuse and neglect.

 Many child abusers are not aware when their behavior becomes harmful to a child or how to deal with their own overwhelm before they lose their tempers.

At its core, any type of abuse of children constitutes exploitation of the child's dependence on and attachment to the parent.

Another therapeutic term that is used in conjunction with child abuse is "interpersonal victimization." According to the book Childhood victimization: violence, crime, and abuse in the lives of young people by David Finkelhor, interpersonal victimization can be defined as "...harm that comes to individuals because other humans have behaved in ways that violate social norms. This sets all forms of abuse apart from other types of trauma-causing-victimization like illness, accidents, and natural disasters.
Finkelhor goes on to explain: "Child victimizations do not fit neatly into conventional crime categories. While children suffer all the crimes that adults do, many of the violent and deviant behaviors engaged in by humans to harm children have ambiguous status as crimes. The physical abuse of children, although technically criminal, is not frequently prosecuted and is generally handled by social-control agencies other than the police and criminal courts. 

What happens to abused children?

In some cases—depending on the number of reports made, the severity of the abuse, and the available community resources—children may be separated from their parents and grow up in group homes or foster care situations, where further abuse can happen either at the hands of other abused children who are simply perpetuating a familiar patterns or the foster parents themselves. In 2004, 517,000 children were living in foster homes, and in 2005, a fifth of reported child abuse victims were taken out of their homes after child maltreatment investigations. Sometimes, children do go back to their parents after being taken away, but these statistics are slim. It's easy to imagine that foster care and group home situations, while they may ease the incidence of abuse in a child's life, can lead to further types of alienation and trauma.

How does child abuse turn into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

For children that have suffered from abuse, it can be complex getting to the root of childhood trauma in order to alleviate later symptoms as adults. The question is, how does child abuse turn into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder later in life? What are the circumstances that cause this to happen in some cases and not others?
Statistics show that females are much more likely than males to develop PTSD as a result of experiencing child abuse. Other factors that help determine whether a child victim will develop PTSD:
  • The degree of perceived personal threat
  • The developmental state of the child: Some professionals surmise that younger children, because they are less likely to intellectually understand and interpret the effects of a traumatic situation, may be less at risk for long-term PTSD
  • The relationship of the victim to the perpetrator
  • The level of support the victim has in his day-to-day life as well as the response of the caregiver.
  • Guilt: A feeling of responsibility for the attack ("I deserve it") is thought to exacerbate the changes of PTSD
  • Resilience: the innate ability to cope of the individual
  • The child's short-term response to abuse: For instance, an elevated heart rate post-abuse has been documented as increasing the likelihood that the victim will be later suffer from PTSD.
Carolyn Knight wrote a book called Working With Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma that states: "Trauma, by definition, is the result of exposure to an inescapably stressful event that overwhelms a person's coping mechanisms. She points out that an important aspect of an event (or pattern of events) is that it exceeds the victim's ability to cope and is therefore overwhelming. A child should not have to cope with abuse, and when abuse occurs, a child is not equipped psychologically to process it. The adults in their lives are meant to be role models on how to regulate emotions and provide a safe environment.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, some of the particular symptoms of child PTSD include:

  • Frequent memories and/or talk of the traumatic event(s)
  • Bad dreams
  • Repeated physical or emotional symptoms whenever the child is confronted with the event
  • Fear of dying
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Regular physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Extreme emotional reactions
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability, anger, violence
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Constant or often clingy or whiny behavior and regression to a younger age
  • Increased vigilance or alertness to their environment
Once a child has grown to be an adult, however, symptoms of PTSD can become more subtle as he or she learns how to cope with this in day-to-day life. The symptoms of PTSD can be quite general and can mimic other disorders: depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, problems with alcohol and drugs, sleep issues, and eating disorders are just a few. Many have problems in their relationships and trusting another person again. Many even end up in abusive relationships and find themselves re-enacting the past.
Community support is a vital tool in preventing child abuse and the PTSD that can result from it. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from child abuse, please report it to your local Child Protection Services - or the police, if a child is in immediate danger. The longer that abuse continues, the higher the risk of causing severe symptoms.

If you or a loved one may be suffering from delayed effects of trauma due to childhood abuse, I encourage you to make a therapy appointment with someone who specializes in trauma and who can put you on a path of healing.