The (inextricable) Link: Animal abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse


“Over the past 30 years, researchers and professionals in a variety of human services and animal welfare disciplines have established significant correlations between animal abuse, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, elder abuse and other forms of violence. Mistreating animals is no longer seen as an isolated incident that can be ignored: it is often an indicator or predictor crime and a “red flag” warning sign that other family members in the household may not be safe. We call this species-spanning interconnectedness of different forms of violence The Link.”

So states The National Link Coalition, which was created in 2008. “…Over 100 dedicated authorities, advocates and researchers representing a diverse array of animal protection, domestic violence, child maltreatment and elder abuse disciplines came together at a unique Town Meeting and National Summit in Portland, Maine.”  Their “goal was to build greater awareness of how these forms of family and community violence are interconnected…and to build successful programs whereby agencies in these fields can cross-report and cross-train each other for more effective prevention of violence.”

This relatively new field of research has uncovered some grim statistics. PAWS in Washington State outlines some striking

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The secret to fixing school discipline problems? Change the behavior of adults


Godwin Higa, principal, Cherokee Point Elementary School


Two kindergarteners at Cherokee Point Elementary School in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood get into a fight on the playground. Their teacher sends them to the principal’s office. 

Instead of suspending or expelling the six-year-olds, as happens in many schools, Principal Godwin Higa ushers them to his side of the desk. He sits down so that he can talk with them eye-to-eye and quietly asks: “What happened?” He points to one of the boys. “You go first.” 

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Rape is not inevitable; 25 years of Prozac; how racism is bad for health

rapeThree posts caught my eye last night. The first was by Jessica Valenti, who writes about feminism, sexuality and social justice for the Nation. She looked at the vitriolic response to political commentator and writer Zerlina Maxwell’s appearance on Fox News’ Hannity. Maxwell made the point that having a gun doesn’t prevent rape. Valenti quoted her as saying: “I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there.”

A headline on, a right-wing site, shouted Democratic Strategist’s Shocking Claim: Women Don’t Need Guns for Self-Defense, Just Tell Men “Not to Rape Women” and called her approach “bizarre”. Online comments were, well, what you might expect. Valenti pointed out:

The truth is that focusing on ways women can prevent rape will always backfire. Not only because it’s ineffective—what a woman wears or

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New books of note: ‘Restoring Sanctuary’ and ‘Blind to Betrayal’

sanctuaryDr. Sandra Bloom, associate professor at Drexel University’s School of Public Health and founder of the Sanctuary programs, and Brian Farragher, chief operating officer of ANDRUS, have come out with their long-awaited Restoring Sanctuary: A New Operating System for Trauma-Informed Systems of Care. ANDRUS provides services for families and children in New York State’s Westchester County, and also operates the Sanctuary Institute.

Restoring Sanctuary is the third in a trilogy. Creating Sanctuary, written by Bloom, focused on the Sanctuary Model of Care itself, and how it evolved. More than 200 organizations have adopted the Sanctuary model. Destroying Sanctuary, written by Bloom and Farragher, showed how organizational trauma is destroying the U.S. health care system. Restoring Sanctuary provides a roadmap for organizations to transform themselves into safe and trauma-informed environments.

Last week in New York City, about 100 people turned out at a book party for Restoring Sanctuary. In a write-up on, Farragher was quoted as saying that Destroying Sanctuary “described the formidable barriers to providing effective mental health and social services to our clients and issued a call for reform and recovery.  This new volume takes that next step.  We see it as a roadmap to recovery for our nation’s human service organizations.”

Another book, Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren’t Being Fooled, by University of Oregon psychology

blind professor Dr. Jennifer Freyd and clinical psychologist Pamela Birrell, who teaches at the University of Oregon, will be published on Monday. It provides examples of why organizations, agencies, and society as a whole might want to adopt the Sanctuary model.

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Communities making progress with the necessity of dealing with child abuse

Jimmy_Savile_2006In Britain, where officials are dealing with 450 people who have come forward to say that Jimmy Savile abused them when they were children, there’s more awareness, and thus finally more reporting of child abuse. Nevertheless, society still flinches from dealing with it, as The Guardian pointed out in an editorial, “Child abuse: Speaking the unspeakable“. It noted that the world is still doing what Freud had done a hundred years ago: recoiling from the common and damaging child maltreatment that occurs to millions of children daily, and falling into a type of societal dissociation by pretending the problem simply doesn’t exist.

The editorial explained that one of the hurdles that officialdom had to move past in prosecuting child abuse cases was the belief the “child witnesses could not be trusted”. Britain appears to have moved past that, but there’s one more systematic flaw:

Namely, an unwillingness to take seriously the complaints of youngsters who exhibit exactly the sort of symptoms of mental ill health – drinking, self-harm, extreme reticence – that can be caused by this abuse.

Around the U.S., other efforts are underway to make reporting child abuse easier.

In 2011 in Oregon, 75,000 cases of child abuse or neglect were recorded; 710 of those were in Lane County. The county oregonhas set a goal of reducing child abuse and neglect 90 percent by 2030. The 90by30 Project’s first annual conference begins tomorrow. The project was launched by the University of Oregon College of Education. According to this story on

“It’s more the idea of taking the responsibility for that intervention away from that handful of people in government or non-profits and putting it where it belongs with each of us,” said 90by30 program director Phyllis Barkhurst.

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Five numbers to remember about early childhood development

harvard Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child came up with this interactive infographic that provides a succinct, simple explanation about the importance of each of those five numbers. Altogether, according to the infographic, they add up to this:

Getting things right the first time is easier and more effective than trying to fix them later.
Early childhood matters because experiences early in life can have a lasting impact on later learning, behavior, and health.
Highly specialized interventions are needed as early as possible for children experiencing toxic stress.
Early life experiences actually get under the skin and into the body, with lifelong effects on adult physical and mental health.
All of society benefits from investments in early childhood programs.
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