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,

increased 17 percent from January 2011 to January 2012, 45 percent in February and 19 percent in March. The state reports that every year, three out of 100 children in Wisconsin suffers physical, sexual or verbal abuse, or physical or emotional neglect.

Although the department’s mandate focuses on responding to reports of abuse and neglect and protecting the children involved, [Human Services Director Brian] Shoup said, further efforts at prevention “would be a smart thing (for the county) to do.”

Yep. Otherwise, it’ll just be passed on from generation to generation, and our health costs will continue to skyrocket.

PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE SEVERE childhood trauma have 50 times the risk of developing schizophrenia than children who have experienced no abuse, according to this overview of a study by reporter Alok Jha. The study was done by researchers at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, and Auckland University in New Zealand. The team looked at 36 published studies…

…that contained data on childhood maltreatment (including sexual, physical and emotional abuse, death of a parent, school bullying and neglect) and psychiatric symptoms in almost 80,000 people, collected over the course of 30 years. People who experienced these types of trauma in childhood were between 2.7 and 3 times as likely to develop schizophrenia as adults, the team found. The research is published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.

In cases where someone had suffered sustained abuse or several types, their risk of developing schizophrenia in later life was increased further. “People who had severe and multiple traumas in their lives, in some of their studies they’d go up to an odds ratio of 50 times greater risk of psychosis [in later life],” said [Dr. Richard] Bentall. “There is nothing in genetics which looks as strong as this in terms of effects and it’s consistent across the different studies, so it’s a highly robust effect.”

FIFTY-SIX PERCENT OF 700 agencies say that there’s an increase in family violence, says the Police Executive Research Forum, according to this report by reporter Kevin Johnson. That’s compared with 40% of agencies in a similar survey in 2010.

What’s most interesting — and disturbing — in this article is the following:

Domestic violence is not a separate category of crime tracked in the FBI’s annual crime report, which has recorded a sustained decline in overall violence since the financial collapse in 2008. But the survey concludes that police are responding to more reports of domestic incidents, regardless of whether charges are filed.

Since, in most communities, the No. 1 aggravated assault is domestic violence, which causes a community the most damage economically and emotionally, how can the nation’s top police agency NOT be tracking that information? Just askin’.

Many local police departments are, according to the story: Camden, NJ, police responded to 9,100 domestic incidents in 2011, up from 7,500 in 2010. In Eugene, OR, aggravated assaults increased to 234, up from 188 in 2010, while simple assaults increased to 1,552 from 1,440 in 2010. Both police chiefs blamed the poor economy.

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