Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) impact an individual long-term. Dr. Vince Felitti from Kaiser Permanente and Dr. Bob Anda from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a research to study how childhood trauma impacts health outcomes. In their investigation, they tracked the number of ACEs of over seventeen thousand individuals and then compared these to the participants’ health outcomes. The study has shown a correlation between adverse childhood experiences and the health and social problems an individual encounters over his or her lifetime.

The potential ill effects of childhood trauma are troubling. ACEs can dramatically increase the risk for seven out of ten of the leading causes of death in the United States. Childhood trauma can impact the development of the brain and the immune system. There are also findings that individuals who experienced childhood trauma are at a triple risk for heart disease and lung cancer. Other areas where risks are increased include hepatitis, ischemic heart disease, depression, and suicide. The impact of childhood trauma is not confined to an individual’s health prospects, however, and also spills over into other areas.

In her TED talk, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris breaks down how the stresses associated with abuse, neglect, and parental difficulties—which can range from mental health or substance abuse struggles to separation or domestic violence—affect a child in the short and long term. Yet, she points out that in spite of these high stakes, doctors are not yet trained in routing screening or treatment of this ailment. She then recounts her personal journey to discovering the impact of childhood trauma and explains how she implements this knowledge to screen and address the ramifications of ACEs. Ultimately, Dr. Burke advocates for increased awareness regarding this threat, as well as a proactive approach to addressing it in order to minimize its potential detrimental effects.

However, we cannot leave it to the medical field to address and work towards eradicating the ill effects of childhood trauma. Rather, it will take a concerted effort from all actors that are able to help secure safe environments and provide appropriate interventions when necessary. For this reason, the Center for Children, Law & Policy’s Zealous Advocacy Conference later this summer will be focusing on adverse childhood experiences. Please be on the lookout over the next few weeks for more information regarding specific conference details.

 

ACEs

Image from http://news.rutgers.edu/news/study-links-early-childhood-trauma-kindergarten-behavior-problems-poor-performance/20160118#.VxOvMGMoFSU.

The Right to Counsel for Children in Dependency Cases

Graphic by www.naccchildlawblog.org

 

Graphic by www.naccchildlawblog.org

Graphic by www.naccchildlawblog.org

Dependency courts have the authority to make critical decisions that may greatly impact the life of an abused or neglected child, including where that child will live and what visitation rights, if any, her family will be granted. Yet in spite of these high stakes, these children do not have the constitutional right to counsel. To learn more, please visit: https://www.naccchildlawblog.org/child-welfare-law/infographic-the-right-to-counsel-for-children-in-dependency-cases/.

Kansas Legislation Aimed At Allowing Parents To Spank Harder Rejected

In Kansas currently spanking is allowed but it crosses the line and become child abuse when it leaves a mark. Kansas is one of a handful of states where corporal punishment is legal in schools. Democratic state representative, Gail Finney, aimed to expand that definition of corporal punishment by making it legal to spank and leave a mark for parents, teachers and other caregivers.

Finney says she proposed the law to “restore discipline to families” and protect parent’s rights.
The proposed law would legalize up to ten spankings by hand per child. The law would also allow parents to delegate others to spank their children and included no age limit on children who can be spanked.

Opponents say that one spank is too many and find Finney’s allocation of 10 strikes as completely arbitrary. Critics also allege that the bill attempts to legalize child abuse. Child abuse experts report that spanking is an outdated form of punishment and is less effective than time-outs.

Finney denied these accusations saying the bill was not intended to legalize child abuse but to establish consistent parental corporal punishment standards across Kansas. Britt Colle, the McPherson Deputy County Attorney who inspired Finney to draft the bill remarked, “This bill clarifies what parents can and cannot do. By defining what is legal, it also defines what is not.”

The bill was quickly rejected but has generated much debate on spanking, particularly in schools.