The issue of violence is a glaring item in news articles today. As I research the topic I am often lead back to the item of “parent-child” bonding. Someone said to me, “All incarcerations include a story of the interruption of parent-child bonding early in the child’s life.” Even though this statement seems intense, there is a hidden kernel of truth traveling throughout the words.
A parenting enhancement program called The Family Thriving Program (FTP) uses a re-framing approach to adjust a parent’s attitude if their newborn is born in less than an optimal nurturing environment. Less than optimal is defined as: a parent’s history of unemployment, past history of own abuse, lack of support, unstable housing. The goal is to assist parents to become competent and independent problem solvers. This program also looks at newborns at medical risk, i.e. preterm, cesarean birth or any infant/parent pair that has experienced an interruption in the bonding process. This program also measures the child’s cortisol level. Cortisol is associated with stressors, such as maternal stress or maternal depression, show elevated cortisol levels. According to a report by the Promising Practices Network (retrieved 7/19/2018), elevated cortisol levels in early life are associated with reduced capacity for learning and memory later in life (Jameison and Dinan, 2001).
This FTP program incorporates the home visitation program offering support, information, education, problem-solving rethinking exercises, motivational re-framing of commonly-occurring challenges and general problem-solving strategies.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines child abuse and neglect as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver (e.g., clergy, coach, teacher) that results in harm, the potential for harm, or the threat of harm to a child. This definition falls under the definition of violence; abuse is violence. Violence against children and child abuse affects children’s health now and later and is a costly venture for our country.
1 in 4 children suffered abuse – this translates into 676,000 children being confirmed by Child Protective Services as being victims of abuse and neglect in 2016
1 in 4 children (at least) suffered neglect sometimes in their life
1 in 7 children experienced abuse or neglect in the LAST YEAR
1,750 children died from abuse/neglect in 2016
An organized response to child maltreatment didn’t begin until 1874 in the U.S.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. in their lifetime. These people have experienced an intimate relationship. A common thread that links victims of IPV is that the victim knows the perpetrator, knows him or her well, and vice versa. IPV involves physical or sexual violence or stalking and psychological aggression, including coercive acts, by a current or former intimate partner.
An emotional tie often hinders a person’s ability to protect themselves against violence inflicted by their partner. When a relationship turns violent, devotion can become deadly, giving a frightening and disturbing tone to the expression “till death do us part.” (American Nurse Today, Vol. 12, No. 3)
Workplace violence according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) occurs on a regular basis. 75% of nearly 25,000 workplace assaults occur in a healthcare or social service setting. However, we know that this number is underreported since only 30% of nurses report violent incidents. American Nurses Association President Pam Cipriano, Ph.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, states: “Abuse is not part of anyone’s job and has no place in healthcare settings…” As of December 2017, Medscape Medical News poll includes a poll of 569 nurses, 73% of female nurses and 46% of male nurses reported being sexually harassed. Emotional and physical harm can be devastating.
There are a variety of public resources if anyone is at risk for abuse.
National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-7233 (www.ndvh.org)
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (www.ncadv.org)
Stop Abuse for Everyone – (503)853-8686) (www.safe4all.org)
Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women – (888-7HELPLINE) (www.dahmw.org)
Futures Without Violence: The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence (888-792-2873) (www.futureswithoutviolence.org)
I will leave you with a thought to ponder. There is a field of medical study called epigenetics. This field relates how a person’s cells read their genes. It doesn’t alter the DNA code sequence but it influences how the gene is expressed. An article in Discover Magazine (5/26/2018) and in the journal Nature Neuroscience (June 2004) relate this medical genetic coding issue. When two scientists, Meaney and Szyf conducted tests in genetic coding and genetic attachment (epigenetics) they noted changes not only in the brain of their test subjects but their genes as well. The scientist also found by examining blood tests that these changes were passed on to the subject’s offspring thereby altering how gene information was expressed in the next generation. According to this recognized study, “early stress in a child’s life impacts long-term programming of genome functioning. Author Elena Grigorenko of the Child Study Center at Yale, states “parenting adopted children might require much more nurturing care to reverse these changes in genome regulation.”
Possibly, we can decrease the incidence of violence and abuse by kissing, hugging and nurturing our babies, and showing people in our lives that we care for them on a regular basis. If we love and nurture the people in our present generation then they may in turn love and nurture the people in the next generation…