For both children and parents, adoption is a life-changing event. Some couples choose to adopt because they are unable to have biological children; others pursue the option because they want to expand their family and offer a child a home. For children growing up in the often erratic world of foster care or in an orphanage, becoming part of a permanent family is a radically new experience that leads to a more stable life.
The children were going to die. Mohamed Bzeek knew that. But in his more than two decades as a foster father, he took them in anyway — the sickest of the sick in Los Angeles County’s sprawling foster care system. He has buried about 10 children. Some died in his arms. Now, Bzeek spends long days and sleepless nights caring for a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect. She’s blind and deaf. She has daily seizures. Her arms and legs are paralyzed.
Abuse takes many forms against children, including emotional, sexual and physical. It can take place in school, at home, or in the community. There are a wide range of perpetrators, including parents, neighbors, teachers, children, and strangers.
Children who have dealt with maltreatment and abuse who serious changes in vital areas of the brain. These changes have been linked with schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, and drug addiction. Abuse during childhood massively increases the risk of victims turning to drugs and alcohol. They may have experienced verbal or emotional abuse, separation or discord with their parents, emotional or physical neglect, or abuse of a physical or sexual nature. Brain scans offer evidence of trauma, even if they had not been diagnosed with a particular disorder.
Many experts have referred to child maltreatment as mental health’s tobacco industry. Evidence has shown that a smoking habit directly causes physical diseases, and leaves us predisposed for others, evidence has also shown that abuse during childhood contributes to a variety of mental illnesses.
Domestic violence, or family violence, generally refers to the physical assault of children and women. This is generally carried out by a male relative, such as a father/husband, or boyfriend. The man is using violence as a means to control his children and his partner. He believes that it’s a male prerogative, something that he has no control over. Or, he may believe that his family is to blame for his behavior. Women can also be guilty of family violence, however, it’s unusual for violent women to show violence on the same scale as violent men have.
Abuse or maltreatment during childhood may shrink vital parts of the brain. Research from Harvard University has found that parts of the hippocampus had reduced in size, possibly explaining why childhood trauma results in psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and drug addiction. It’s this link that may allow researchers to find more effective ways of treating childhood abuse survivors. The research offers an explanation as to why childhood abuse sufferers are more prone to psychosis and drug abuse.
According to the National Children’s Alliance over 700,000 children are abused every year in the US. Just over 1,500 children die due to neglect and abuse every year, and Children’s Advocacy Centers serve over 300,000 child abuse victims across the country.
Child abuse doesn’t just leave physical scars, it also leaves a mark on the brain, and possibly the genes. According to The National Academy of Sciences, abused children who suffer with PTSD may experience a unique form of the disorder.
The study’s main aim was to determine whether patients with the same diagnosis have the same underlying biology despite different early environments.
For school-aged youth, the second leading cause of death is suicide. For children who have been subjected to sexual abuse, or violence, the risk of suicidal thoughts is greater. Suicide is preventable, though, because youth considering suicide often give off warning sighs. It’s vital that teachers, friends, and parents are able to pick up on these signs in time to seek help. If these signs are present they should not be taken lightly.