Psychological abuse of children may be common

Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 @ 3:11 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 @ 3:11 PM

Psychological child abuse is common but underreported in the U.S., the nation's largest pediatric health group says.

Like physical and sexual abuse, psychological abuse can cause devastating and lifelong harm.

In a new report, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is calling on pediatricians to be alert to signs of such abuse in young patients.

"Psychological maltreatment often occurs with other forms of abuse, but this isn't always the case," says co-author Roberta Hibbard, MD, of Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.

"It is one of the most devastating forms of abuse," she says. "Broken bones heal, but being belittled, terrorized, or neglected by a parent can impact self-esteem, attachments, and other aspects of development for a lifetime."

What Is Psychological Abuse?

There is no universally agreed upon definition of psychological abuse. But most cases involve a pattern of behaviors by a parent or other caregiver that leads a child to believe he or she is unloved or unwanted.

Specific types of psychological abuse identified in the report include these actions by a parent or caregiver:

Ridiculing a child. Comments or actions, especially in public, that:

  • Belittle a child
  • Criticize a child in a derogatory way

Terrorizing a child. For example, if you:

  • Place a child in a dangerous situation
  • Threaten to harm a child if unrealistic expectations aren't met

Isolating a child. For example, if you:

  • Confine or imprison a child
  • Restrict a child's social interactions

Exploiting a child. For example, if you take steps that exploit or corrupt a child, such as:

  • Encourage or be a model for anti-social behavior
  • Encourage behavior that's not appropriate for the child's age

Being detached from your child. For example, if you:

  • Interact with your child only when necessary
  • Don't nurture your child
  • Fail to praise your child

"All parents do things they may regret from time to time. But a chronic pattern of belittling, denigrating, or neglecting a child constitutes psychological abuse," says Harriet MacMillan, MD. She is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Brandi's Story

As director of Riley Hospital's Child Protection Program, Hibbard and her team evaluate about 2,000 cases of suspected child abuse every year.

She remembers the cases of Brandi Zachary and her older brother as among the worst examples of neglect she has ever seen.

The two were victims of psychological neglect and malnourishment at the hands of their parents until a friend became suspicious and called child protective services.

The children were kept in a filthy, locked closet day and night for at least a year.

When the abuse was discovered Brandi was 2 1/2 years old and weighed just 14 pounds. She had not yet learned to walk or talk.

Now 19, Brandi went public with her story earlier this year in an effort to help make people aware of the importance of reporting abuse and neglect.

Her birth parents were convicted of felony neglect, and she has had no contact with them since she was removed from the home 17 years ago. She was adopted several years later.

She changed her last name from Zachary to that of her adoptive parents. She's on track to complete her undergraduate degree in psychology in two years, despite being legally blind as a result of the neglect she suffered.

"Her story is amazing. And it really does illustrate the importance of speaking up if you suspect abuse," Hibbard says. "Someone who knows or suspects that a child is being neglected has a moral, if not a legal, obligation to report it."

Treating Abused Kids, More Research Needed

It's not clear how many children experience ongoing psychological abuse at the hands of parents or other caregivers. That's because such abuse is widely underreported, the report noted.

In one large study conducted in the U.S. and U.K., about 9% of women and 4% of men reported exposure to severe psychological abuse during childhood.

Other surveys conducted in the U.S. found emotional abuse to be the most frequently reported form of victimization.

The report calls for more research to develop and test effective treatments for children who have experienced psychological abuse, either alone or combined with other forms of abuse.

The report is published in the August issue of Pediatrics.

SOURCES: Hibbard, R., Pediatrics, August 2012.Roberta Hibbard, MD, director, Child Protection Program, Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University Health, Indianapolis.Harriet MacMillan, MD, professor, departments of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and pediatrics, McMaster University, West Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.Gilbert, R. The Lancet, 2009.Reyome, N.D. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 2010.WTHR News: "Crawfordsville woman who survived abuse unlocks the past."

© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Doctor: Popular charcoal masks could cause permanent skin damage

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 3:47 PM

A popular “do-it-yourself” charcoal mask that has been trending all over the internet could cause serious damage to your skin, according to a dermatologist.

"It might be dangerous if you like all three layers of your skin," Dr. Seth Forman, a dermatologist in Tampa, Florida, said in an interview with WFTS

Many people have taken to YouTube to show users the painful process of peeling off the charcoal mask. Many of these products are sold from “unregulated vendors,” WFTS reports. Forman said that some of these products are mixed with a foreign charcoal powder and super glue, and will “most likely” be illegal soon. 

If certain layers of skin are peeled off, it can lead to scarring and infection “especially when you get down to the second layer (of skin),” according to WFTS

The good news is that there is a large variety of FDA approved facial masks that are safe, Forman said.

WATCH: Young girl left temporarily paralyzed illustrates dangers of tick bites

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:49 PM

A 3-year-old girl in Oregon awoke on May 13 to find herself unable to stand or use her arms.

>> Read more trending news 

Evelyn Lewis’ mother, Amanda Lewis, filmed her daughter’s failed attempts to stand with help from her husband. 

WGHP reported that the parents took Evelyn to the emergency room, where a doctor discovered a small but dangerous reason for her condition.

After combing through Evelyn’s hair, the doctor discovered a tick, diagnosing her with a condition called “tick paralysis.”

“The doctor talked to us for a minute and said over the past 15 years he had seen about seven or eight children her age with identical symptoms and more than likely she had a tick,” Amanda Lewis wrote on Facebook. “It can affect dogs also and can be fatal. I’m glad we took her in when we did and that it wasn’t something worse and that we found it before it got worse.”

According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, tick paralysis attacks a person’s muscles and results in symptoms like muscle pains and numbness of the legs. These begin after a tick has attached itself to a host, generally on the scalp.

>> Related: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals

Fortunately, Evelyn is now doing much better, as her mother wrote on Facebook that she “is now pretty much completely back to her feisty little self. She complains a lot about her head itching but otherwise, she’s just fine.”

Related

Here’s how much fruit juice children should drink, according to new guidelines

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 12:19 PM



KidStock/Getty Images/Blend Images

Next time you're grocery shopping for your kids, think twice before adding a carton of fruit juice to your basket. The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its guidelines on all juices, advising parents to pull back on how much they serve their little ones.

» Related: What Atlanta dietitians feed their kids 

Previous recommendations said parents should wait to give their babies juice until after six months, but its latest update is suggesting that they wait one year. 

In fact, infants should only be fed breast milk or infant formula for the first six months. After six months, moms and dads can then introduce fruit to their diet, but not fruit juice. 

>> Read more trending news

“Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories,” said Melvin B. Heyman, MD, FAAP, co-author of the statement. “Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1.”

» Related: Should we slap a tax on sugary drinks? 

Scientists laid out instructions for older children, too. Toddlers who are ages 1 to 4 should only have one cup of fruit a day. Four ounces of that can come from 100 percent fruit juice, but it should be pasteurized and not labeled “drink,” “beverage” or cocktail.” 

For children ages 4 to 6, fruit juice intake shouldn't exceed four to six ounces a day. 

The amount increases just slightly for children ages 7 to 18. They can have up to two and a half cups of fruit servings, but only eight ounces of it should be juice. 

Top 15 crusaders for health in America's food industry

Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM

Wondering how this year's list stacks up against the last? Check out Top 15 Crusaders for Health in the Food Industry 2012.

Amongst all the junk food commercials and donut sandwiches, there are a handful of health heroes. These aren’t just people who eat organic greens for lunch and free-range eggs for dinner; they’re moving and shaking the way we think about our food, including where it comes from, the implications it has on our environment, and what our meals mean for our bodies. Here, we recognize 15 superstars (in no particular order) that have devoted themselves to improving American’s relationship with food.

 

1. Marion Nestle
Nestle has got her hand in nearly every facet of America’s food industry. Her blog, Food Politics, covers topics from nutrition and biology to health policy and food marketing. She’s been teaching nutrition for nearly four decades and currently teaches sociology, food studies, and public health at NYU. Nestle is the author of many books, but her latest — “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics” — is all about understanding the intersection of health and food amidst all the mass marketing and misinformation put forth by major food manufacturers. Currently, Nestle updates her blog regularly and presents at universities and conferences on topics such as genetically modified foods and the role food companies play in our food system. (Photo: www.foodpolitics.com)

 

2. Michael Pollan
As one of the foremost activists for change in the overwrought food industry, Pollan is an outspoken and often controversial figure in the food and farming space. Though probably best known for his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (which hung out on The New York Times Bestseller list for more than three years), Pollan has continued to write. In his most recent book, “Cooked”, Pollan explores how cooking connects us to plants, animals, farmers, and culture (amongst other things). (Photo by Ken Light)

 

3. Michelle Obama
After launching the Let’s Move! campaign at the start of 2010, the First Lady has made healthifying America’s eating habits (especially for kids) her job. The ultimate goal is to eliminate childhood obesity and help kids live healthier lives with good food and a little extra physical activity. This year, Obama held the second annual “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,” where she asked children ages eight to 12 to whip up nutritious, tasty, and affordable recipes. Unfortunately, we weren’t invited to the White House kids’ “State Dinner” with the winner of this year’s challenge. (Photo: www.whitehouse.gov)

 

4. Mark Bittman
As an author and New York Times writer,Bittman likes to weigh in on what’s wrong with the American diet. A part-time veganhimself, Bittman is an advocate for the “flexitarian” diet — which means eating vegan during the day, but allowing for more flexible consumption after 6 pm. His super popular book, “How to Cook Everything”, is a go-to resource for basic kitchen skills. Not only does he push for humans to stay healthy, Bittman relentlessly encourages us to keep the environment happy and healthy, too. Oh, and in his spare time, he runsmarathons(Photo: www.markbittman.com)

 

5. Mike Bloomberg
As the mayor of New York City, Bloombergtakes his role seriously, making waves in the name of public health. From smoking bans tosoda bans, Bloomberg’s initiatives aren’t without controversy and backlash. Passionate about combating obesity, he’s pushed for salad bars and healthier menus in school cafeterias. Plus, he’s managed to eliminate trans fats from tons of restaurant items, and make it mandatory for chain restaurants to clearly post calorie counts on menus. We’re excited to see what goals Bloomberg sets (and reaches) next. (Photo: www.nyc.gov)

 
For the full list of 2013's top health crusaders in the food industry, go to Greatist.com.