“Do what it takes for as long as it takes to restore a broken life”: Supporting Hagar International, by Deirdre Dobson-Le

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It’s another person’s Child, be a Busybody! By A.LLY, written for Fei Yue Community Services, Singapore, as part of the #ProtectAChildToday campaign.

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As parents, how often do we think of raising children other than our own? And in the context of Singapore, there is an innate fear of being labelled as “Kay Poh” (busybody) even though the intention is out of pure sincerity. We are connected in more ways than just through the internet.

All of us play a role in children’s lives

Are you that employer who implemented flexible work timings? Are you that family member who offered parents time away? Are you that person who gave your seat to a child on the train? Or are you that person who resorts to yelling and violence just to get your way? Are you that person who looks away in the face of child abuse? Every policy an employer undertakes, every decision parents make, and every social interaction that takes place are woven into the fabric of children’s lives. So yes, that’s you! Every day, you leave a mark on children’s lives and every day is a chance for you to recognise that we all play a role in children’s lives. Living in this common space, we hold the responsibility to contribute to and shape the kind of space we want to live, work and play in; this is the same environment that a child grows in.

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Your children are MY future too

Not just my children, but your children make my future too! It is well understood that children who are raised in loving and safe environments grow up to become productive, successful and loving adults. They develop life skills, attitudes and aptitudes that allow them to help their community and contribute to their country, and on the personal front, they hold more potential to achieve success academically and financially. Staying competitive in the global economy is important and it is up to our children to do that in the future. What can we do for them? Give them the opportunity for healthy growth and development in a safe and loving environment.

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(To read more, please follow the link below…)

https://allyve.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/its-another-persons-child-be-a-busybody/

Acknowledging Past Institutional Child Sexual Abuse In Aotearoa/ New Zealand and Ensuring the Protection of Vulnerable Children in the Future, by Grant West and Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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My name is Grant West I am a survivor of child sexual abuse in New Zealand. My abuse was by many different people in government-run institutions.

I am now travelling New Zealand collecting signatures on a petition calling for a Royal Commission Inquiry into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. I started in Dunedin and have travelled the South Island. I will be in Wellington on the 14th August 2016 to start to collect signatures on the petition from the 15th 16th 17th and 18th in the Cuba Mall.

I will be traveling the North Island to Lake Taupo and Rotorua from the 20th until the 23rd and then on to Hamilton from the 23rd until the 26th. From there I will be heading for Auckland, staying there until the 14th of September when I will fly back to Wellington too hand over the petition to three MPs on the steps of Parliament on the 15th of September at 1:15 pm.

I am asking for changes to the Australian and New Zealand Royal Commission.   As I am funding this out of my own money. I need help to be able to pay for things like the car hire and accommodation and petrol. So please if you can help me out and give a little bit that would help. New Zealanders: ANZ 06-0909-0439736-00   And Australians: Westpac BSB 033-607 ACC 000796  Even If anyone concerned out there gave a dollar or two, It would add up and help the cause.

With everyone signing the petition your signature is taking back the power from the government of New Zealand and putting it back in the hands of the people. Thank you for your support. My Facebook webpage is Silence No More NZ please go there and have a look.

I am here to stop the sexual abuse of New Zealand children and to give all victims and survivors, including and those that are no longer with us, a voice.

 

The following is from an interview Grant West recently gave to the Australian newspaper The Courier.

r52_143_3280_4227_w1200_h678_fmaxWhen Grant West was eight he was placed in juvenile detention after he was caught by police attempting to burn down a Presbyterian Church. 

It would be the first of many desperate attempts Mr West would make to end a cycle of horrific sexual abuse inflicted on him from the age of four. 

Mr West told The Courier he was the victim of intrafamilial sexual abuse before he was raped by a church minister at the age of six.

He become a ward of the state until the age eight and were abused up until the age 16.

He spoke of systematic beatings, sadistic sexual abuse and culture of fear at the boys home which was run by the former Department of Social Welfare from the 1960s through to the 1980s.

“I was shoved into a cell and beaten to a pulp,” Mr West said.

“The first night I was made to stand naked in the shower while they turned a high pressure fire hose on me. It wasn’t long after that the night-watchmen started sexually abusing me.” 

Mr West, has lived in Ballarat for more than a decade.

He suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and has made multiple attempts to end his life. 

While one of his perpetrators is in jail in New Zealand, others have died without ever being prosecuted. 

Mr West has made it his mission to protect future generations of children and get justice for scores of child sexual abuse victims in New Zealand. 

He is calling for the New Zealand federal government to roll-out an independent royal commission mirroring Australia’s child sex abuse inquiry.

He plans on travelling around New Zealand to get more than 200,000 signatures for petition which will be lodged in parliament.

He has returned to New Zealand because he wants to see changes to the system in his home country.

“We are asking for all institutions who care for children to have mandatory reporting of sexual abuse cases,” he said. “This is about changing the way we deal with children.”

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Grant West, right and supporter Pete Chapman are collecting signatures calling for a Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/83075972/kiwi-expat-calling-for-royal-commission-inquiry-into-child-sex-abuse

Related You-tube Video…

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The Road Near Rio’s Olympic Village Where 9-year-old Girls are being Sold for Sex, by Candace Sutton

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Around a bend on one of Brazil’s longest highways, only a 50-minute drive from Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic village, girls as young as nine are selling their bodies to truck drivers for money.

Just a few miles from the glittering new stadiums where the world’s elite athletes are gathering to battle it out for Olympic gold is a shabby world of poverty, violence and child exploitation.

The BR-116 runs for 2800 miles between the World Cup stadium host city Fortaleza in the far north of Brazil to Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo, where the Arena de Corinthians will stage Olympic soccer games in the south.

The road is nicknamed the Highway of Death (Rodovia da Morte) for its mortality rate due to many accidents and unstable weather and conditions along the route.

But its real misery occurs at 262 truck stops along its way, where female children are sold for sex, often by their own families, sometimes as part of a town’s unofficial bartering system.

ro 1Two underage sex slaves near the football stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil before the 2014 World Cup soccer. Picture: BBC. Source:Supplied

As more than 10,000 athletes and spectators fly in from around the world for the $10 billion 2016 summer Olympics, local activists are drawing attention to the reality of the young girls drawn into a life of sex slavery and drug addiction.

At Meninadanca, an organization established to stop the exploitation of at-risk girls in towns along the BR-116, the real life stories are mind blowing.

When a Meninadanca team visited the remote town of Candido Sales, which is bisected by the BR-116, they discovered that underage girls in the town were regularly offered to men as prizes in raffles.

(Related: How To Spot (And Rescue A Sex Trafficking Victim)

Trucks and heavy goods vehicles clog the road lined with bars and brothels through the town, just miles away from the dirt brick homes where Brazilian families live in poverty.

ro 2Child prostitutes as young as 11 work in this slum which lines the fence of the 2016 Olympic football stadium in Sao Paulo. Picture: Jota Roxo. Source:Supplied

Sex trafficking gangs target the town and poor families are vulnerable to offers of money for their little girls.

But even the Meninadanca workers were surprised when a town council psychologist told them raffles were held regularly with the winning ticket holder’s prize being the right to abuse a particular girl being sold.

The psychologist Gleyce Farias said “Candido Sales is a small town, but every day we hear of another girl who has been sold.

“I had to stop a mother from allowing her 12-year-old daughter to ‘marry’ a 60-year-old man, for money of course.

“Another 13-year-old girl ended up in hospital because of the abuses she suffered. She told us how from the age of nine she was made to watch pornographic films, and men would pay her to touch them.”

ro 3By the age of 13, Lilian (above) had been sold to truck drivers by her mother for $4 a time. Picture: Matt Roper. Source:Supplied

 

ro 4Leidiane, 11, worked on the BR-116 highway but became addicted to crack and couldn’t be saved. Picture: Matt Roper. Source:Supplied

As the Rio Olympics are now underway, Meninadanca is attempting to lure the world media’s attention away from the excitement of the games to the confronting scenes beyond.

Matt Roper, a journalist and author, has held a walk of the BR-116 and Meninadanca’s Facebook page has an “adopt a kilometer” program on me for each section of the highway to raise money for the non-government organization.

As the final preparations are made on Rio’s 32 sporting venues, and last minute concerns centre on the Zika virus, Russia’s doping ban and pollution at the Guanabara Bay sailing ground, Meninadanca is tying pink ribbons along the highway.

Roper has helped establish ‘pink house’ refuges for girls rescued from the highway, although he admits many times it is too late.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://fightthenewdrug.org/the-road-near-rios-olympic-village-where-9-year-old-girls-are-being-sold-for-sex-photos/

Dunedin Study Findings: The Importance of Identifying Personality Types at a Young Age, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

16f7mbContinuing  our series of articles on findings discovered by the “Dunedin Longitudinal Study”…

The Dunedin Study identifies five major personality types.  These can be recognised in children as young as three years of age and do not change as we grow older: they are the personality types we are born with, they seem to be “in our blood”.

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Most people fall into the groups classified as “Well Adjusted”, “Confident”,”Reserved” or some combination of these three: together these three groups cover 83% of the population.  “Well Adjusted” individuals tend to fit in with their surroundings, sometimes being “in the lime light”, but not having to all the time.  They tend to be able to “get along” with others, for the most part.  “Confident” individuals are the risk takers and “go getters”.  Like those described as “Well Adjusted” they don’t necessarily always have to be in the limelight, but they are thrill seekers and will “go out on a limb” to try a new idea.  An example used in the documantary about “The Dunedin Study” findings, “Why Am I?” was New Zealand’s A.J Hackett, founder of “Bungy Jumping”.

aj-hackett-parkdownload (1)Alan John “A. J.” Hackett is a New Zealand entrepreneur who popularised the extreme sport of bungy jumping. He made the famous bungy jump from the Eiffel Tower in 1987 and founded the first commercial bungy site in 1988. Wikipedia

Those classified as “Reserved” make up 15% of the general population. Reserved individuals tend to “hang back” and watch things for a bit first, before getting involved.  They are often a little shy and are more comfortable in smaller groups. These traits do not, however, prevent them living full and productive lives.

According to “The Dunedin Study” monitoring of 1037 people born in 1972-3, “Well Adjusted”, “Confident” and “Reseved” individuals, 83% of the population, usually go on to have “successful life outcomes”.  By their 40s they are usually happily married or in positive relationships, are persuing careers and/ or parenting well.  The remaining 17% consists of two personality types (again, identifiable in early childhood) which go on to adult lives which create immense angst and unhappiness–  both for themselves and for the rest of the community.

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Source: Google images.

People with a personality type described in “The Dunedin Study” as “Undercontrolled” are usually highly strung and don’t cope well with novelty or change.  These individuals are usually quick to anger and struggle with self control.  (Self control was discovered by “The Dunedin Study” to be one of the biggest indicators of a successful life outcome, a characteristic which was even more important than a high IQ).  Children identified as being in the “Undercontrolled” personality group at age three were more likely to go on become adults with diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, heart disease and lung problems.

Group Of Threatening Teenagers Hanging Out Together Outside Drinking

Source: Google images.

These same adults, despite disliking change or novelty, were described as “impulsive” and “sensation seekers”.  They were more likely to drink, take drugs and/ or have sex at an early age and to manifest other behaviour which takes a toll on physical and emotional well-being over time.  Children identified as being in this category at age three were highly likely to have been in serious trouble with the law by the time they were 23.

The other 7% of the population have personalities classified, according to “The Dunedin Study” as being “Inhibited”.  These individuals do not usually commit crimes or become violent.  They seem, instead, to “turn inward on themselves” and what may initially manifest as shyness or social awkwardness in a pre-school child becomes extreme self-consciousness to the point where, in many cases, teenagers manifest “school refusal” ( a refusal to go to school which differs from truancy, in that it is an anxious/ depressive reaction to school, rather than a rebellious act against going to school).  Teaching in High Schools in Japan for five years, I saw a number of examples of this, the Japanese call it Hikikomori.

Hikikomori (ひきこもり or 引き籠もり Hikikomori, literally “pulling inward, being confined”, i.e., “acute social withdrawal“,  is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive adolescents or adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. The term hikikomori refers to both the sociological phenomenon in general and to the people belonging to this societal group. Hikikomori have been described as recluses, loners, or “modern-day hermits.”  [Source: Wikipedia].

An example of a young Japanese man living this kind of life is shown in “Why Am I?” People in this personality group have a difficult time attending school during the High School years and frequently struggle to leave home and establish a life for themselves in the adult world.  They tend to be fearful, anxious, highly strung, closed to change or novelty and prone to depression.  Whilst “hikikomori” is a Japanese term to describe teenagers or young adults who behave in this way, it is now a recognised problem in developed countries around the globe.

shy-teen-girl-200x300What is remarkable is that “The Dunedin Study” first identified these five personality types in pre-school children. These types appear to be set and have persisted in study participants, even becoming more pronounced, into adulthood.  This is, as the study says, one thing for those in the three “normal” groups, but what do we do if a child is identified as being in the “at risk” groups (“Undercontrolled” or “Inhibited”)?

download (2)What this study does establish are theoretically meaningful connections between 3-year-old children’s behavioral styles and their adult personalities. There is more to establishing this answer than satisfying intellectual curiosity. If early-emerging behavioral differences did not predict outcomes, behavioral scientists, parents, and teachers could safely ignore such individual differences. However, because such differences do shape the course of development, information about these individual differences can be harnessed to design parent-training programs and school-based interventions to improve children’s development. Ironically, although demonstrations of continuity are often viewed as deterministic and pessimistic, such findings provide the strongest support for the urgency of early intervention. [Source: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.576.9452&rep=rep1&type=pdf]

The most important thing to remember about “The Dunedin Study” and the reason we here at “The Forever Years” love it, is that it investigates nurture as well as nature and results show that nurture has an important part to play in whether those children with “Undercontrolled” or “Inhibited” personality types go on to have “positive life outcomes” or not.  Personality traits can overlap.   Nurture can “push” children from “functional” to “non-functional” personality types and vice versa. For example, a “Reserved” child who isn’t adequately socialised could become “Inhibited”.  An “Inhibited” child, with the right supports in place, can be “drawn out” to become “Reserved”.

Findings from “The Dunedin Study” show conclusively that for some individuals, multiple problems tend to aggregate.  A portion of children on the study who manifested the “Undercontrolled” or “Inhibited” personality types had these in combination with delays in significant areas such as speech and language acquisition and in taking their first steps.  For a portion of them (interestingly, these children were predominantly male) learning to read was also a great struggle.  This in turn led to a dislike of school, leaving school early and, following on from this, a high incidence of involvement in criminal activity.  “Something as innocent as delayed speech then, if not dealt with early, can gather force over the course of a lifetime,” says “The Dunedin Study” Associate Director,  Dr. Terrie Moffit.

Director Professor Richie Poulton says knowing now (because of study results) that some kids have a much higher chance, for example, of ending up in trouble with the law, can provide an opportunity to avert negative life outcomes by creating individually tailored intervention plans.   Such things as significant learning delays, poverty, childhood abuse or neglect, witnessing domestic violence, substances consumed by a child’s pregnant mother whilst he or she is still in the womb, an absence of attachment, structure, boundaries, positive encouragement or correct professional intervention for particular significant issues, invariably lead towards “negative life outcomes” when combined with particular personality types.

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Children who come into the world, then, with “Undercontrolled” or “Inhibited” personality types could be described as “guns loaded by Nature”.  But it is Nurture, meaning the presence or absence of certain positive or negative factors, that determines whether or not the “triggers” of these guns are pulled.  “Nurture” and “early positive intervention” are our hope.  The childhood years are indeed, when we look at the set personalities that we are born with, “The Forever Years”, as these personalities persist into adult life.  The outcomes don’t need to be negative, however, if “at risk” personality types are parented accordingly and if we teach our children “Self Control”, an all important trait which is learned, rather than fixed and which we will discuss in a separate article about “The Dunedin Longitudinal Study”.

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“The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog”, by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. A Book Review and Analysis by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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I found “The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog” a fascinating read and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in child psychology or who works with traumatised children… or even if you just have a general interest in how our minds (and the developing minds of children in particular) respond to trauma.  The full title of this book is “The Boy Who was raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook, What Traumatized Children can Teach us about Loss, Love and Healing” and the authors are Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D, and Maia Szalavitz.

One of the things I liked about this book was that, despite saying that traumatic events can “leave indelible marks on the mind [and the]…impact of PTSD [Post Traumatic Shock Disorder] is actually far greater on children than it is on adults” [p.2], the overall tone is positive and hopeful, both for children who have been affected by PTSD as a consequence of  severe abuse and/ or neglect or due to witnessing horrific events, as well as for adults affected by PTSD.   Bruce D. Perry, a child psychiatrist and Senior Fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy (USA and Canada) is the “voice” of this book, which he wrote together with Maia Szalavitz, an award winning journalist who specialises in science and health.  Perry compassionately and respectfully acknowledges the immense importance of “The Forever Years” (childhood) and the importance of investing in and creating a serious strategy of therapy for children  affected by trauma.

As a “lay person” (non-psychiatrist) I found “The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog” clear and self-explanatory.   On page 21 there is an excellent description of how our human brain develops: …“there are four major parts of the brain: the brainstem, the diencephalon, the limbic system and the cortex.  The brain is organised from the inside out, like a house with increasingly complicated additions built on an old foundation.  The lower and most central regions of the brainstem and the diencephalon are the simplest.  They evolved first, and they develop first as a child grows.  As you move upward and outward, things get increasingly more complex with the limbic system.”

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Source: “The Boy who was raised as a Dog,” appendix, figure 2, p. 248.

The younger a child is when a traumatic event occurs, Perry says, the greater the affect on the lower and most central regions of the brain.  This, he explains, is “developmental trauma” (as opposed to inherent anxiety or stress disorders caused in utero or by genetics).  Trauma in early childhood causes “altered receptors” or heightened sensitivity to “threat”: an over-exaggerated “fight or flight” reaction, based on triggers which the person may not even  be consciously aware of themselves and which, in others who have not undergone similar trauma, would probably not cause such a reaction.  A clear indicator, Perry realised,  was that children with this “heightened sensitivity” had, even when calm and resting, an accelerated heart rate at a level significantly above that of their non-traumatised peers of the same age and gender.

The responses of traumatised children, Perry explains, can be to create more “chaos”, as this has been their “norm” in the past and brain pathways of accepting chaos as normality have been set up.  Adults who undertake social work or foster care, for example, should be aware of this.  “The responses of traumatised children are often misinterpreted.   …new situations are inherently stressful… attempting to take control of what they believe is the inevitable return to chaos, they appear to “provoke” it in order to make things feel more comfortable and predictable.   …we tend to prefer the “certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty.”  This response to trauma can often cause serious problems for children when it is misunderstood by their caregivers.”  [p.55].

Following from this, Perry says that he and his colleagues recognised that “…the nature of a child’s relationships–both before and after trauma– seemed to play a critical role in shaping their response to it.  If safe, familiar and capable caregivers were made available to children, they tended to recover more easily, often showing no enduring negative effects of the traumatic event.  We knew that the “trauma-buffering” effect of relationships had to be mediated, somehow, by the brain.”  [p.66]

This is where the amazing capacity of our human brains to “heal” and create “new pathways”, even years after traumatic events which have occurred during early childhood (during the first, early stages of brain development) comes into play.

“…we tend to care for our children [and, interestingly, for ourselves as adults] the way we were cared for ourselves during our own childhoods, [so] a good “brain” history of a child begins with a history of the caregiver’s childhood and early experience.” [p.83].  Our “Forever Years”, then, are also effected by the “Forever Years” of those caring for us when we are young.  The diagnosis “failure to thrive” in a child ” (discussed on p.88) can stem from a parent or parents not having  thrived themselves during their own childhood years.   In extreme cases, even  when other, basic needs (such as for food, shelter and clothing) are met, if a carer is emotionally “distant” a child may fail to gain weight or be delayed in other ways (such as speech or other developmental milestones).  This is purely a “nurture” (or lack of nurture) issue, and nothing to do with anything innate in the child.  Perry talks about how until recently, doctors were “...unaware of the damage that neglect alone can do to the brain.  They assumed that something so clearly visible on scans had to be evidence of a genetic defect or intrauterine insult, such as exposure to toxins or disease; they couldn’t imagine that early environment alone could have such profound physical effects.” [p. 129].

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Neurologists say that the sizeable difference between these two brains of two different 3-year-olds has one primary cause: the way that their mothers treated them. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D./Ch Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/chilling-brain-scans-show-impact-mothers-love-childs-brain-size-243328

“Fortunately the positive cycle is every bit as cascading and self-amplifying as the vicious cycle,” Perry says, [p.121] and while emotional scars may always be present, the intervention of a loving, understanding environment can reprogram reactions and triggers.  This is enormously positive  when considering the effect on  future social interactions (including romantic relationships) for traumatised children as they grow into adulthood and becomes parents themselves.  The more relationships are positively retained and jobs and parenting situations are handled in constructive ways, the stronger and more confident the “traumatised child now adult” will become, which in turn further aids healing of old, emotional scars.

Perry doesn’t just put this forward as a vague hypothesis, however.  Throughout “The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog” he gives concrete examples through case studies of real patients he has worked with (obviously, these children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy).   Each is an example of a child suffering from severe trauma, including the “boy who was raised as a dog,” who gives the book its title.  Through his work, Perry says, he and his colleagues “…only gradually came to understand how the sequential development of a child’s brain is affected by trauma and neglect.  It only gradually dawned on us that this understanding could help us find possible treatments. These insights led us to develop what we call the neurosequential approach to theraputic services for maltreated and traumatised children. [p.125].

I love the “neurosequential” approach Perry and his colleagues take, along with the immense positive ramifications it has for the children they are working with.  The nuerosequential approach works on the basis of assessing which areas in a patient’s brain have sustained damage or neglect from past experiences, and then addressing these one by one.   “We would use enrichment experiences and targeted therapies to help the affected brain areas in the order in which they were affected by neglect and trauma (hence the name neurosequential).  If we could document improved functioning following the first set of interventions, we would begin the second set appropriate  for the next brain region and developmental stage until, hopefully,… [the patient] would get to the point where his biological age and his developmental age would match.”  [p.139].

Just as our brains develop sequentially, then, neurosequential therapy is aimed at addressing “loss” in development (caused by abuse, neglect or trauma) in a sequential manner.  Perry uses the example of a boy called Connor (not his real name), now aged fourteen, who had suffered from severe neglect as a baby.  “In Connor’s case, It was clear that his problems had started in early infancy, when the lower and most central regions of the brain are actively developing.  These systems respond to rhythm and touch: the brainstem’s regulatory centres control heartbeat, the rise and fall of neurochemicals and hormones in the cycle of day and night, the beat of one’s walk and other patterns which must maintain a rhythmic order to function properly.” [pp.139-140].  For Connor, “treatment” began with massage therapy, as early neglect had left him with an aversion to touch which was affecting his ability to even make eye contact with others, and hence affecting his social relationships.

Perry goes on to describe the “levels” or “layers” of neurosequential therapy, each of which respond to and attempt to address a deficit caused by trauma earlier on.

White Layers

Touch

kangaroo-careTouch is, of course, our earliest form of validation and security from our carers.  This is the reason for the importance placed on giving newborn babies “skin to skin” contact and the psychological benefits of this can be seen throughout life.  (See previous articles on this blog about the importance of positive touch in early childhood and throughout life, by following the links below).

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/infant-massage-nurturing-touch-and-self-care-for-the-caregiver-by-erin-e-sonnier-from-nurtured-child-nurtured-you

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/touch-as-nutrition-by-john-tuite/

Music and Movement

Many of us parents take our preschoolers to “Music and Movement” groups thinking that that’s just “what you do” and that it gives us a chance to socialise with other parents and connect with and focus on our children in a child-centred environment.  All of this is true and the benefits of music to our babies and children has been well documented.  (Again, there is a link to follow below if you would like to read an article about the benefits of music to our kids).

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/5-ways-in-which-kids-benefit-from-learning-a-musical-instrument-by-justine-pierre/

After reading “The Boy Who was raised as a Dog”, I came to realise that, beyond being merely “beneficial”, music and movement are essential in brain development, affecting crucial areas such as language acquisition and breathing and heart rate regulation. Music and humanity have been linked since the dawn of time, with every culture having songs and rhymes for children passed down from generation to generation.  They are part of the fabric of who we are.

Play Therapy

mi1_675Perry describes how “play therapy” is used in treating traumatised children and in particular talks about Sandy (not her real name), a three year old girl who witnessed her mother being raped and stabbed to death, before having her own throat slit and being left for dead.  Sandy was alone with her mother’s body in their apartment for eleven hours before being discovered, taken to hospital and having the wounds on her neck treated. [p.33].   Perry discovered that Sandy had a need to role play the scene which had traumatised her again and again.  This involved  Perry himself lying on the ground, in the role of Sandy’s mother, while Sandy attempted to “wake” him and “feed” him, which she had done with her mother during the eleven hours after the brutal attack on them both.  [p.52].  “While she did this [role play] , I had to do exactly what she wanted: don’t talk, don’t move, don’t interfere, don’t stop.  She needed to have total control while she performed this reenactment.  And that control, I began to recognize, would be critical to helping her heal.”  Over the course of manyPlato-play+blue months, Sandy began to alter this re-enactment and, on her own, changed it to a scene where Perry would read her a story book, thus reverting to a positive memory of times with her mother before the attack.  This is not to say that Sandy wasn’t scarred by her extremely traumatic experience.  But “play therapy” in this way enabled her to process what had happened and move towards healing.  Perry says that, with ongoing therapy and encouragement, Sandy went on to lead a satisfying and productive life, despite her horrific early  experience.

The importance of “play” is something for all parents and carers to be aware of.  A particularly useful article on “Attachment Play” (especially beneficial to children being fostered or adopted, who may have attachment issues or disorders, but also beneficial to our children generally) was recently published by Marion Badenoch Rose, here on the “Forever Years”.  (To read it, please follow the link below):

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/an-introduction-to-attachment-play-by-marion-badenoch-rose/

Some other articles on the importance of play can be found at the links below:

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/the-remarkable-power-of-play-why-play-is-so-important-for-children-by-karen-young/

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/let-the-children-play-outside-by-greenlife-matters-the-nursery-and-garden-industry-new-zealand/

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/help-my-toddler-cant-play-without-me-by-janet-lansbury/

Interaction with Peers

kidsplaying-on-playgroundPerry says the next step in neurosequential therapy is being able to aptly interact with peers.  This is a big step, as adults make allowances and try to protect or help a child who they see as having “issues”, but successful peer interaction (and acceptance of and by peers) is necessary to be able to function throughout the rest of life, with implications for all future relationships.  Perry discusses the case of Peter (not his real name) a seven year old boy who was adopted at age three from an orphanage in Russia.  Due to early lack of stimulation and neglect during his time at the orphanage (where intentions were good, but there were simply not enough adults to go around, meaning that Peter and the other three year olds there were fed and changed, but spent all day in cots), Peter, who was an intelligent boy, showed behaviour which was young for his age and, inspite of loving and patient behaviour from his adoptive parents at home, this caused him to be rejected and marginalised by his peers… which in turn led Peter to having angry, bewildered outburts (which only served to further ostracise him from his classmates).

Mandela“The behavior of his classmates was predictable.  What was happening was a small version of what happens all across the planet in various forms every day.  Human beings fear what they don’t understand.  The unknown scares us.  When we meet people who look or act in unfamiliar, strange ways, our initial response is to keep them at arms length.  At times we make ourselves feel superior, smarter or more competent by dehumanizing or degrading those who are different.  The roots of so many of our species’ ugliest behaviors– racism, ageism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, to name just a few– are the basic brain-mediated response to perceived threat.  We tend to fear what we do not understand, and fear can so easily twist into hate or even violence because it can suppress the rational parts of our brain.”  [p.225].

The biggest predator of humans is humans and we have, therefore, a built in fear of other people who seem “different”.  Perry says, “...Peter was intellectually advanced, but socially clueless.  I realised that if he was going to catch up, he was going to need the help of his peers.” [p.226].

choose-wiselyWhat followed was an amazing (and yet simple) exercise in understanding.  Our fear reaction so often kicks in, but the empathy reaction can take longer to activate (in children or adults), but, it has been shown, empathy once activated is stronger than the fear reaction.  To get Peter’s peers “on side” in his healing, Perry (with the permission of Peter, his parents and the school) came along to his class and spoke about the brain… at a level at which seven year old children could understand.

Dr. Bruce D. Perry (author of "The Boy who was raised as a Dog", "talking about the brain".

Dr. Bruce D. Perry (author of “The Boy who was raised as a Dog”, “talking about the brain”.  Source: http://davidsmithsegarra.com/born-love-dr-bruce-perry/

I talked about how they were exercising their “ABC” muscles [of the brain] in school and about the importance of repetition.  I described how they had many other similar kinds of “muscles” in the brain that also needed certain kinds of attention to grow big and strong.  I talked about how the brain develops and what makes everyone’s brain work, emphasizing how the brain changes.” [p.228].

Perry then went on to explain how Peter had had a different and more difficult start in life than the other children in his class.

An orphanage in Eastern Europe. Source: National Geographic.

An orphanage in Eastern Europe. Source: National Geographic.

“When he was a little boy, he spent every minute of every day for the first three years of his life in one crib.  …  Peter was born in another country where they did not know very much about the brain.  … Peter never had a chance to walk around, to play with friends, to get a hug from any loving grown-ups.  His brain didn’t get very much stimulation.  … his new parents came… [then] Peter’s amazing brain started to learn so many things.  Even though he had never heard English, he learned English in just a couple of years. … every day in school, Peter learns things from all of you.  He watches how you do things, he learns from playing with each of you and he learns from just being your friend.  So thank you for helping Peter.  And thanks for letting me come and talk about the brain.”  [pp.228-229].

Perry says that, in the weeks that followed, the children’s “natural goodness” came to the surface and they “included him, protected him and, ultimately, provided therapeutic experiences that helped Peter catch up…. adults have much more influence over the process [of helping children understand those who are different] than they may believe.  When children understand why someone behaves oddly, they give him or her more slack…” [p.229].

tribal-fear-altruism

In Conclusion

The Boy Who was raised as a Dog” has many more examples of the amazing capacity of the human brain to recover from early neglect or trauma, including the story which gives the book its title.  Perry also worked with the children from the WACO Texas cult and talks about his experiences with them in this book.  While Perry’s patients are extreme examples of trauma or abuse, he says an estimated 40% of children will experience some level of trauma before they reach adulthood [p. 233] and that some of our current practices of therapy and childcare are actually causing more harm than healing [p.235].  He advocates for an “infant and child literate society” [p.239] and a nurturing of empathy– which is why we at “The Forever Years” love this book, which fits in so well with our own ethos, of viewing the world “through the eyes of a child”, an ethos which Perry certainly puts into action when treating children who have suffered from trauma or neglect.

Related Links:

Life After Stress: The Biology of Trauma and Resilience

http://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2012/08/02/what-americans-dont-get-about-the-brains-critical-period/

https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/529-baby-brain-map

http://nancyguberti.com/5-stages-of-human-brain-development/

Ab Collage 11

In Loving Memory of Nia Glassie and so many others… a Song and an Article for Child Abuse Prevention Month

As we move into April, international Child Abuse Prevention Month, this article challenges us to dare NOT to turn a blind eye and to protect all our children, everywhere.

The Forever Years

Nia Collage

By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

In 2008 New Zealanders were outraged as they heard details of the death of three year old Rotorua girl Nia Glassie.  Nia was subject to extensive physical abuse for weeks, possibly even months, before being admitted to hospital and dying of brain injuries on 3 August 2007. The court concluded she had been kicked, beaten, slapped, jumped on, held over a burning fire, had wrestling moves copied from a computer game practiced on her, spat on, placed into a clothes dryer spinning at top heat for up to 30 minutes, folded into a sofa and sat on, shoved into piles of rubbish, dragged through a sandpit half-naked, flung against a wall, dropped from a height onto the floor, and whirled rapidly on an outdoor rotary clothes line until she fell off. (Source: Wikipedia, see link below).

CAP monthAs we move to the end of April as Child Abuse Prevention…

View original post 766 more words

Australian mum raises over $100,000 to build safe-house for abused girls, by Belinda Jepsen

ConstanceHall_RafikiMwembe-collage-600x315

Australian blogger Constance Hall has harnessed the power of her loyal social media following to raise funds for a charity that supports sexually abused Kenyan girls.

The response has been overwhelming, with over $100,000 rolling in in less than a day.

Hall was made aware of the cause after being contacted by a full-time volunteer for Rafiki Mwema –  a not-for-profit organisation that offers a safe house, counselling, medical care, legal support and community education to young female victims of sexual violence in the east African country.

As Hall wrote:

“Some of these young survivors have been sexually abused to the point of needing surgery, some prostituted from the age of 2 (yep, you read that correctly 2-years-old) some aren’t able to communicate to anybody without covering their faces due to the shame they believe they have brought on themselves.”

Sadly, Rafiki Mwema has become so overwhelmed with the numbers of young children in their care, that they were seeking funds to build a house to accommodate older, teenage victims. They needed $75,000. And so Constance reached out to her more than half-a-million followers, or “Queens” as she affectionately calls them.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.mamamia.com.au/constance-hall-fundraiser-kenya/

“Orange Friday” in Aotearoa/ NZ… raising awareness of domestic violence. By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

xxxxxx

Orange Friday is a  day to raise awareness and much needed funds to help victims of domestic abuse become safe and stay safe.

Domestic abuse is not an easy subject, especially because our statistics here in Aotearoa/ NZ are shocking.   The NZ Police answer a domestic abuse callout every 5 minutes.   One child is killed every 6 weeks by a family member.   And one in three Kiwi women will experience physical or sexual abuse by a partner in their lifetime.  It’s awful to know that we have such a huge problem with domestic abuse in our beautiful country.

On “Orange Friday” people dress in (you guessed it) ORANGE :).  They donate money to the organisation “Shine”.  Shine was founded in 1990, so have just celebrated their 25th Anniversary.   Shine work in partnership with many organisations,  including the NZ Police,  Child Youth & Family Services and Family Works.  They offer a range of integrated services that support adult and child victims to be safe, as well as supporting men who have used abuse, to change their behaviour.  Shine currently have a serious funding shortfall, meaning only  1 out 4 victims that are referred are able to be helped.  Orange Friday aims to help with this shortfall by raising  funds to ensure  all victims of domestic abuse are able to have the support that they need.

xx

Kamo lntermediate School Children on “Orange Friday” 2015.

“Orange Friday” is also a good opportunity to raise general awareness of domestic violence, so holding it in schools or offices is great… lots of people wearing orange will attract interest and further help this worthy cause.  So get out there, get orange and “shine a light” on this problem… one which is often hidden behind closed doors until it’s too late.

xxx

For more information about “Orange Friday” and Shine, follow the links below:

http://www.2shine.org.nz/

http://www.orangefriday.org.nz/orange-friday/who-is-shine

“Children who engage in deviant acts must receive professional intervention, not just a ‘stern talk…’ By Ginger Kadlec

Sad teenager is scared and abused.

Sad teenager is scared and abused.

My stomach continues to churn as I read report after report about reality star Josh Duggar’s alleged admission of child molestation. Even more disappointing are the details being reported about the adults in his life who, if these reports are indeed accurate, failed to respond as they should.

Allow me to first acknowledge that any parent whose child admits to committing a crime of any type experiences a range of emotions from anger to disappointment to wanting to correct the child while at the same time protect him/her from repercussions of the act(s). While I have no first-hand vision into the Duggar’s lives, I would bet this is just what Josh’s parents Jim Bobb and Michelle were thinking… however, they failed to notify authorities for a year after learning about Josh’s acts. During that time, he allegedly molested again.

So, what can we learn from the Duggars? Here are 4 lessons for every family in this all-too-real-life story.

Lesson #1: The Law Says…

See The Washington Post for a timeline of events in the Duggar story.

In many states (including my home state of Indiana), any adult who suspects or is aware that a child is being abused is REQUIRED to report that suspicion to authorities. Federal statute addressing child sexual abuse predominantly hands authority back to individual states and provinces.

I checked Arkansas’ (the Duggar’s home state) mandated reporting statute... apparently, it does NOT require anyone having knowledge about or suspicion of child abuse to report it. There is a list, though, of mandated reporters including teachers and clergy. My question in the Duggar case is, if these children were home schooled, didn’t the parents qualify as “teachers” and weren’t they then bound by mandated reporting requirements? The Duggars are also the parents of multiple alleged victims in this case. Was it ‘enough’ to get just counseling for them on the side?

Lesson #2: What is normal sex play?

It’s natural for children to become curious about their own sexuality and the sexuality of the opposite, or even same gender. “Ask Dr. Sears” offers a terrific explanation of genital play and what is normal vs. deviant behavior. This website states that many children are “…more interested in satisfying curiosity than in sexual arousal. You can tell innocent sexual curiosity from deviant sexual behavior by these characteristics. Innocent acts are occurring when…”

  • Children are young (under age seven), close in age, and know each other.
  • There is mutual agreement; one child is not forcing the other.
  • There is usually a game-like atmosphere: playing “doctor” or “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”
  • Secrecy is part of the game. As if sensing their parents would disapprove, children retreat into a bedroom, garage, or a private place. (This is true for deviant acts as well.) ~Source: Ask Dr. Sears

What isn’t acceptable is when a child, tween or teen coerces or forces another child into a sexual act, one example being fondling a victim who is sleeping, as alleged in the Duggar case.

What isn’t acceptable is when a child, tween or teen coerces or forces another child into a sexual act, one example being fondling a victim who is sleeping, as alleged in the Duggar case.

As a side note, children who are sexually abused sometimes act like they are asleep when they are in fact awake during an assault. It’s a response similar to that of a small animal who is attacked and “plays dead”, hoping its hunter will leave it alone and go away. The child victims in the Duggar case could have very well been aware of what was happening to them at the time of the alleged molestations.

Children who engage in deviant acts must receive professional intervention, not just a “stern talking to” or ‘punishment’ of physical labor to ‘work it out of their system’. This is a primary reason people need to report abuse.1 Depending on the circumstances, authorities aren’t out to put a kid in jail — instead, they want to intervene to help and be sure the child’s issues are addressed so they don’t perpetrate again.

Lesson #3: Protecting Child Victims

Nearly 20% of all child abusers are children themselves.

No family is perfect. But families where any form of abuse exists require intervention… especially, for children in the home. According to data shared by the National Children’s Alliance in 2014, nearly 1 in 5 (18.9%) perpetrators of child abuse were under the age of 18. Many of those were family members, siblings or friends who had ready access to their child victims. When sexual abuse allegations are substantiated among siblings, safety plans should be put in place and monitored by an outside organization or agency that specializes in the safety and protection of children. Again, I don’t have first-hand insight into the Duggar case, but from what I’ve read, it doesn’t appear that necessary safety measures were implemented.

A child who commits a crime isn’t a bad person that society should just write-off, send to juvy and hope for the best. Rather, it’s a child who needs intervention, guidance and help. In my experience as a child forensic interviewer, child perpetrators often abuse because they themselves were victimized in some way. That victimization can come in many forms including being a victim of sexual molestation themselves or even witnessing adult sexual behavior/acts which can include viewing videos or photographs that are not age appropriate.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.beakidshero.com/posts/4-lessons-we-can-learn-from-the-duggars/?utm_content=bufferfa8d4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer