As of June 2010, this blog has moved. It can be found at the following link:

http://anewconversationonparenting.com/wordpress/

A new study out of U.C. Irvine by neurologist Dr. Tallie Z. Baram has found that caressing and other sensory input triggers activity in a baby’s developing brain that improves cognitive function and builds resilience to stress.

In a study published earlier this year in The Journal of Neuroscience, Baram and colleagues identified how sensory stimuli from maternal care can modify genes that control a key messenger of stress called corticotropin-releasing hormone.

Dr. Baram’s earlier work has shown that excessive amounts of CRH in the brain’s primary learning and memory center led to the disintegration of dendritic spines, branchlike structures on neurons. Dendritic spines facilitate the sending and receiving of messages among brain cells and the collection and storage of memories.

“Communication among brain cells is the foundation of cognitive processes such as learning and memory,” says Baram, the Danette Shepard Chair in Neurological Sciences. “In several brain disorders where learning and similar thought processes are abnormal, dendritic spines have been found to be reduced in density or poorly developed.

“Because an infant’s brain is still building connections in these communication zones, large blasts or long-term amounts of stress can permanently limit full development, increasing the risk of anxiety, depression and dementia later in life.”

Essentially, Dr. Baram and her colleagues’ work stands for the proposition that a human brain is fundamentally influenced by the environment early in life, especially by maternal care.

See story at Psychorg.com:

http://www.physorg.com/news192209628.html

I’ve just found out that the brilliant and amazing Alice Miller died on April 14, 2010 at the age of 87. She was a psychotherapist, a prolific writer, and a devoted champion of children’s rights, working throughout her life to spread awareness of the effects of child abuse.

Here is a video message she put out a few years back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2hF2ujCeFw

and here is a link to her website:

http://www.alice-miller.com/index_en.php

I attended the Child Abuse Symposium in Santa Clara County, California last Friday and heard a highly effective and important presentation by Dr. John Stirling, Director of the Center for Child Protection at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and Medical Director of Santa Clara County’s Children Shelter.

Dr. Stirling presented the findings of the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study, a study that has been out for years, which shows a direct link between child mistreatment and adult health and well-being.

Here is a synopsis of the primary findings of the ACE  Study performed by Dr. Vincent Felitti. Fundamentally, the study found that childhood adversity has a direct correlation with adult disfunction and poor health.

Please read the synopsis of this important study:

http://xnet.kp.org/permanentejournal/winter02/goldtolead.html

Sexual abuse is so much more widespread than some people think. New evidence has been publicized that U.S. swim team coaches have molested and secretly taped teenage girls on the swim team for decades. 36 coaches are now banned from U.S. Swimming for life for sexual misconduct.

See the Huffington Post story:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/us-swimming-sex-scandal-r_n_531912.html

In this article in the Washington Post, triggered by the Pope’s recent apology, Sinead O’Connor eloquently writes about her personal experiences relating to child abuse and the Catholic Church, her views on recent events relating to the Catholic Church, as well her belief in God.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/25/AR2010032502363.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

A number of us have heard recently about the mounting sexual abuse claims against the Catholic Church. Well, children have been used as sexual objects by adults since ancient history.

The latest news:  In a trial in Oregon, a former Boy Scout is suing the Boy Scout organization for damages arising out of the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a Boy Scout leader. The victim in this trial has obtained access to “the perversion files” – files detailing incidents of sexual abuse of boys by Scout leaders within the Boy Scout organization over the years, which the Boy Scouts have deemed private and confidential. Details contained in the files are expected to be released to the public during the trial.

More detail in this article:

http://rawstory.com/2010/03/report-boy-scouts-covered-sex-abuse-decades/

51 year-old award winning MTV video director, Aswad Ayinde, has been charged with repeatedly raping and impregnating his daughters over decades and using extreme violence and threats to prevent them from telling the authorities.

Ayinde, who won an MTV award for directing The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly,” fathered six kids with his daughters from the mid-1980s to 2002 – and delivered the babies himself, according to New Jersey prosecutors. Ayinde also had nine kids with his ex-wife, Beverly, and at least three more with two other women in Brooklyn.

Prosecutors said Ayinde kept the kids from informing the authorities by beating them with wooden boards or kicking them with steel-toed boots.

“I was afraid to ever accuse him of being demented or being a pedophile,” Beverly Ayinde, who married him in 1977, told the court. “I knew the word, but I wouldn’t dare use it because it would result in a beating.”

Ayinde also made a point of moving his family from town to town, even squatting in an abandoned funeral home in New Jersey. Later, he moved to Brooklyn and began passing himself off as an artist, brazenly boasting his now-grown daughters were his wives.

More:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2010/03/11/2010-03-11_pure_evil_nj_fantatic_aswad_ayinde_charged_with_raping_daughters_

Researchers at the School of Medicine and the Trinity Institute for Neuroscience at the Trinity College Dublin have shown that child abuse leads to negative structural brain changes including an increased susceptibility to depression:

http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2010/02/26/Child-abuse-can-cause-brain-changes/UPI-24541267212440/

Many people believe that if a child is too young to remember wrongs done to the child, that it doesn’t matter. A number of them harm innocent children and babies in misguided attempts to relieve their own pain.

However, many recent studies have led to significant new evidence showing that a child’s brain and body are damaged for life when that child is mistreated, even where the mistreatment happened when the child was too young to remember it.

Here is a brief article about a recent study showing that childhood abuse damages the DNA of the victim and leads to difficulties in stress regulation due to actual physiological damage in the body.

http://discovermagazine.com/2010/jan-feb/061