THE ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) Study (http://www.cdc.gov/ace/) continues to study the effects of childhood abuse and neglect on society - the results are eye-opening, but not necessarily shocking to those of us that know just how damaging all form of abuse are.
For people who would say "not my problem" - one year of confirmed child abuse cases -that's only the reported ones, and out of those only those confirmed, the total lifetime cost for treatment for those children is estimated at $124 billion. BILLION. And is estimated to truly be as high as $585 billion.
The effect on the brain
The University of Wisconsin has been studying children's social & emotional development since 1994. They recently conducted a study where they performed an MRI "to measure the strength of connections among three areas of the brain involved in processing fear."
What did they find?
"... Herringa says brain scans showed that in adolescents who had been maltreated as children, the connection with the hippocampus was relatively weak. He says in girls who had been maltreated, the connection with the amygdala was weak, too.
That suggests the fear circuitry wasn't working the way it should, Herringa says. The result seems to explain something he sees in many young patients with anxiety and depression and a history of maltreatment. "These kids seem to be afraid everywhere," he says. "It's like they've lost the ability to put a contextual limit on when they're going to be afraid and when they're not."
From Childwelfare.gov :
Some of the specific long-term effects of abuse and neglect on the developing brain can include (Teicher, 2000):
- Diminished growth in the left hemisphere, which may increase the risk for depression
- Irritability in the limbic system, setting the stage for the emergence of panic disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder
- Smaller growth in the hippocampus and limbic abnormalities, which can increase the risk for dissociative disorders and memory impairments
- Impairment in the connection between the two brain hemispheres, which has been linked to symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
The problem is huge - people are suffering, society is suffering, and too many people think that they are not part of the solution.
We are all part of the solution. We are all needed.