Roundup: After Penn State, NJ abuse hot line busy; severe child trauma ups risk of schizophrenia 50x; police agencies say family violence on rise

Pinwheel for Prevention child abuse awareness event, outside the Brown County Courthouse lawn in downtown Green Bay on Friday, April 20, 2012. Photo by Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

Since the Penn State child abuse tragedy last year, the hot lines in New Jersey have been ringing off the hook, according to reporter Susan Livio.

The number of calls soared to as many as 750 a day in November, when a Pennsylvania grand jury indicted former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, said Kristine Brown, spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Families. It rarely topped 400 a day in the two months before the scandal broke out, she added.

From November 2011  to March 2012, 80,543 calls were answered by the hotline— 6,815 more than the same time one year ago. reporter Doug Schneider reported that abuse and neglect reports in Brown County, Wisconsin,

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Roundup: MT adds Nurse-Family Partnership; how to prevent kids’ trauma in airport; Family Safety Center opens in Memphis

The effects of the Nurse-Family Partnership program.

“The core belief is, child abuse prevention is crime prevention,” said Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito at a meeting announcing the adoption of the Nurse-Family Partnership in 15 Montana counties. The story was reported by Greg Tuttle on

The program is supported by a one-year, $3.2 million federal grant, and local officials urged the federal government to provide ongoing support. The program, which has been shown to cut child abuse and neglect in half, sends a team of nurses, dietitians and social workers into homes to assist the family until the child’s second birthday. It’s currently in 426 counties in 37 states. There are 3,033 counties (or county equivalents) in the U.S.

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ACE Study co-founders tell story on DVD — here’s an intro

It’s interesting how long it takes for solid research to be integrated into daily life, especially research that produces results that shock us, but that we have somehow understood at some deep level all along. The CDC’s ACE Study — which linked childhood trauma with the adult onset of chronic disease, including mental illness, and violence or being a victim of violence — is one of those research studies.

Tuesday’s roundup featured a story about how exposure to child abuse and bullying affected our DNA, showing that stress leads to accelerated biological aging. Stephanie Pappas did a good story about the research in LiveScience, in which she quoted Dr. Elissa Epel, a University of California, San Francisco, health psychologist who studies stress and cell aging.

“Now we have some evidence that indeed children’s immune-system aging can be adversely affected by severe stress early in childhood, a scar that could last possibly decades later,” Epel told LiveScience. “This study underscores the vital importance of reducing violent exposures for children — both serious bullying and abuse in the family.”

The researchers pointed out that the violence doesn’t have to affect the child physically — it’s the cumulative stress that’s affecting the DNA.

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Roundup: Media’s role in over-anxious parenting? GOP writing own anti-domestic violence bill; studies question food deserts’ link to obesity

Erika Christakis, a Harvard College administrator who blogs at, posted a fascinating op-ed on — “Did Etan Patz Mark the End of Carefree Parenting?” She’s referring to Etan Patz, the six-year-old boy who disappeared in New York City in 1979, and was the first missing child to appear on milk cartons. She points out that of the 800,000 reported annual cases of missing or kidnapped children, most are found within hours.

The stereotypical kidnapping of parental nightmares and blaring headlines (with a child held overnight by a stranger, involving ransom, harm or intent to keep the child) occurs approximately 115 times per year, with a nearly 60% survival rate (and just 4% unsolved).

The number has not increased since the 1980s, she says, and though it’s still 115 too many, “the disproportionate fear generated by these cases has altered the landscape of childhood in complex ways that obscure the fact that this is probably the safest

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Roundup: 5S’s de-stress infants; toxic stress shortens genes; trauma triggers eating disorders

Here’s a sure-fire way to calm screaming babies, according to this story by NPR’s Patti Neighmond.

John Harrington, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA, did a study, published in the journal Pediatrics, that proves Los Angeles pediatrician Harvey Karp’s calming system works. Karp calls it the five S’s: swaddle, put on stomach, swing, shush (LOUD shhhh), and offer the baby a pacifier to suck on (although the video shows that’s not always necessary). Essentially, Karp’s mimicking the environment of the womb. The bad news: this method stops working when a baby’s around 4 months old.

TO THE LIST OF TOXIC STRESSORS that shorten our genes to age us prematurely  — smoking, radiation, and taking care of a chronically ill person — add violence, says Liz Szabo in today’s USA Today. Research published in Molecular Psychiatry found more evidence that our social environment alters genes. The genes of children who were exposed to two or more types of violence — witnessing domestic violence between the mother and her partner, experiencing physical abuse or bullying — shorten faster. This can lead to early onset of aging diseases, such as heart disease or memory loss.

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Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%

Jim Sporleder, principal of Lincoln High School

THE FIRST TIME THAT principal Jim Sporleder tried the New Approach to Student Discipline at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, he was blown away. Because it worked.

In fact, it worked so well that he never went back to the Old Approach to Student Discipline.

This is how it went down: A student blows up at a teacher, drops the F-bomb. The usual approach at Lincoln – and, safe to say, at most high schools in this country – is automatic suspension.

Instead, Sporleder sits the kid down and says quietly: “Wow. Are you OK? This doesn’t sound like you. What’s going on?” He gets even more specific: “You really looked stressed. On a scale of 1-10, where are you with your anger?”

The kid was ready. Ready, man! For an anger blast to his face….”How could you do that?” “What’s wrong with you?”…and for the big boot out of school. But he was NOT ready for kindness. The armor-plated Continue reading

Juvenile-In-Justice project a grim picture of traumatized kids in traumatizing system

Some of the 1,000 images that photographer Richard Ross took over the five-year project will appear in a book.


Photographer Richard Ross spent five…count ’em…five years photographing kids in our country’s juvenile justice detention centers. The resulting Juvenile-In-Justice project “includes images of over 1,000 juveniles and administrators over 200 facilities in 31 states in the U.S, plus extensive information collected from interviews,” according to his site. He’s publishing a book (no info on his site about the publication date, however), and organizing a traveling exhibition.

In a PBS News Hour feature on his work, he described how he gained access to these places. He said he regarded “No” as a starting point:

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Roundup: Past trauma, not hate behind Tulsa shootings? Philly doc makes case for family violence screening; ND gives grants to enhance abuse-free environments for kids

A close family friend of one of the suspects in the Tulsa, OK, shootings in which Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, are being held in the deaths of three African-Americans  says it wasn’t hate that led England to his actions, but past trauma that sent him over the edge, according to reporter Tess Maune.

Jake England grew up with what many would consider a dysfunctional family life. His parents divorced when he was young. When he was just 13, his mother was sentenced to 28 years in

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Roundup: Autism and obesity? Talking ACEs in Olympia, WA; childhood trauma and lower IQ scores; Catholic clergy child sex abuse cases up 15%

You’ve probably heard about the research in Pediatrics showing that children born to obese mothers are at higher risk of autism. “The study of more than 1,000 children found that the offspring of obese mothers had a 67 percent higher risk of autism than the children of normal-weight moms, and more than double the risk of having developmental delays, such as language impairment,” according to an overview on But did you see this important bit of context provided by Bryan Fung on

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