Tag Archives: Child abuse and emotional neglect awareness

Child Abuse, Neglect and Maltreatment on the Rise in Military Families…

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Stressed out Military Families need Support… A child abuse epidemic?  Quote from this website… Click on informative video clip!

“Of the 29,552 cases of child abuse and neglect in active-duty Army families from 2003 through 2012, according to Army Central Registry data, 15,557 were committed by soldiers, the others by civilians — mostly spouses.”

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The above quote from this site and story could have easily come from the 1950’s, post WWII and Korean War.  We didn’t have any awareness growing up as military kids from the boomer generation.  A toxic home life and scary circumstances connected to our family culture persisted without relief until it was time to leave home at age 17 to join the US Navy.  Following are my reflections of home life as a military child…

I have many vivid memories of violence in our home during the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  My father was self medicated and angry most of the time and we never understood any of it…we were just scared all the time.  My mother was stressed out and never understood his outbursts and panic attacks either.  We woke up in the middle of the night to Dad’s nightmares reliving his combat experiences in the South Pacific while serving in the US Navy.   My parents would fight well into the evening hours making it difficult to go to sleep.  Mom did all she could do to just get through each day.  We siblings became a secondary priority and mostly neglected, except we always had food on the table.  The local public school was one of the only escapes during the day.  We felt isolated and ashamed like we were always doing something bad or looked stupid to others.  There was little or no encouragement or support at home for our school work because of the challenges of our parents in dealing with their own issues.  We didn’t talk about our experiences at home to other kids for fear of the consequences of our parents finding out.  We lied to teachers and coaches when they asked questions concerning our own sad and angry behaviors.  We moved often so were unable to make lasting friendships that made a difference.  We were hesitant to bring friends home for fear of unexpected angry outbursts and toxic behaviors in our home.  It was a blessing to spend time at the home of friends and their families where we could see love and kindness, and wished it for our home.

The pattern of child abuse is the same today, but we do have far more awareness and treatment strategies, including criminal action in the worse cases, to mitigate the sad circumstances of a toxic home.  The health of children can be affected for a lifetime from early child abuse and maltreatment.  Awareness is clearly the path to healing for survivors of trauma.  Education is the best solution to help parents become aware of how children are damaged and carry the emotional baggage into adulthood.

A third non-fiction book, My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2, is almost ready to be released.  Following is an excerpt from the book by way of introduction…

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Introduction: It has been almost 4 years since publishing my first nonfiction book, Reconciliation:  A Son’s Story, November 2011.   My personal path of healing and mitigation of the “ball and chain” of life-long symptoms of anxiety and depression, takes me back to children living and growing up in a toxic home.   The ideal time to save kids from the emotional baggage carried forward as a result of child abuse and maltreatment connected with toxic parenting is from the very beginning.  When parents become abundantly aware of how their parenting behaviors affect children and the detrimental life-long damage of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), they often become highly motivated to get help for themselves to save the kids if for nothing else.

Healing is about making a difference for others.  In the case of denial and ignorance on the part of parents who suffer from PTS, outrageous behaviors and angry outbursts, including physical abuse toward family members and loved ones, especially children, is common.  It’s too easy to pick on the loved ones in your life as a way to vent, but it is not always clear how much emotional damage is being done.  If parents knew the consequences of intergenerational PTS by inflicting emotional and physical pain onto children and family members, they would march down to the nearest alternative treatment center immediately and learn how to mitigate the symptoms effectively and begin the journey of healing.  In my experience and view, there would be no hesitation on the part of parents and adults if they had a higher level of awareness.  We could eventually break the intergenerational cycle of pain in a couple of decades if we started with our own kids very early.  Extensive research has shown babies will pick up on toxic circumstances and behaviors and demonstrate post trauma stress symptoms as they become older.

The goal of My Journey of Healing, Part 2 is to specifically help parents with stress triggers to save their kids from becoming emotionally damaged during these critical years from birth to age 18.  Most of the content comes from my own research, resources, references, and experience as a survivor of child abuse and maltreatment.  Since publishing my first book, I have kept up writing consistently on my blog and website www.survivethriveptsd.com.  I will use the compilation of short essays on my blog as the primary reference point since it focuses almost completely on children and families in life after trauma.  I have been writing on this subject for a long time.  It is now the right time to consolidate and integrate all the postings into a single reference book designed as a guide for parents who are survivors of traumatic life events, including hard combat as a warrior, sole survivors of an accident, and victims of assault and rape.  The painful symptoms of PTS can take on a life of their own if not treated effectively.  More importantly, the symptoms will have a consequential secondary effect on loved ones and children in particular.  Parents are solely responsible for protecting their children and will be highly motivated to do so once understanding the terrible consequences of exposing children to a home culture affected by life after trauma.”

Understanding Child Traumatic Stress from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is a painful read but highly useful in becoming more aware of how children respond to trauma.  The good news…more often than not child survivors of abuse, maltreatment, and neglect grow up with a high level of compassion, a motivation to succeed, and a desire to make a difference in the world.  This does not take away from the critical need to do all you can to love and care for your children as if your own life is at stake.  I feel blessed about my life at this point, but do envy the families who are free of post traumatic stress in their lives.  I worry most about the children who can suffer for a life-time from growing up in a violent home culture…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1… Click highlighted text for my author page…

 

 

 

Trauma…Help Your Wounded Child Heal with Simple Alternative Treatements…

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“The Resilient Child” Article in New Zealand Listener…Quote

“This case aside, a growing body of research has established that cognitive problems are part of the bitter harvest of child maltreatment. Abuse, chaos, fear and neglect experienced for years in early childhood shape the very architecture of the brain, playing out in cognitive problems, anxiety, behaviour disorders and later addiction and mental illnesses. But if child abuse inflicts damage that is so fundamental and structural, is there really much hope it can be repaired? The short answer is yes,” says visiting child trauma expert Dr Bruce Perry, senior fellow of the Houston-based Child Trauma Academy, and adjunct professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Chicago’s Northwestern University. But using the right therapy at the right time is crucial, and difficult to gauge. What is becoming evident, though, is that some unexpected therapies – including movement, massage and yoga breathing – can be used to repair the most primal parts of the brain and help wounded children heal.

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All children, even those living in healthy and safe homes, are exposed to life changing traumatic events!  There are tragedies and traumatic events happening to families everyday all over the globe.  How do we help the wounded child heal? 

According to the full article in the Listener, it is the rare child who is not affected or damaged emotionally when experiencing maltreatment or abuse over an extended period of time.    What worries me the most, is that family members “move on” to the next traumatic event without stepping back to assess the damage and recover.  Maltreatment becomes part of the family culture over time…and often competitive with siblings abusing each other as well.  These kids from toxic homes like mine grow up and become emotionally challenged adults who eventually need help to save our hearts and souls from the lifetime pain of post trauma symptoms that look much like PTSD.  If parents and teachers could achieve more awareness of the consequences of trauma in children earlier and detect the early symptoms in youngsters, simple steps, including massage therapy and deep breathing, can help start the healing process much earlier.  But in most cases, parents who are abusive are also neglectful or completely unaware of the long term consequences of trauma on children.  In my case, growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s in a highly toxic home, the intensity of abuse and maltreatment was at times overwhelming and without relief through treatment.  My parents did not know or understand the consequences of their behaviors…they felt that children were always resilient…not so as we all know today.  

At the prime age of 68, I have mostly recovered from a toxic childhood and young adult life, but it is a work in progress to keep the pain of the past at a safe distance.  I waited until later in life to even recognize the symptoms of PTSD until researching and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, helping me begin a long overdue journey of healing that saved my life.  Please help others become more aware of the consequences of child maltreatment and abuse…  Recognize the symptoms and take early action to help wounded children heal…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… Click on the highlighted text for my author page…

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“Be A Kid’s Hero Daily” by Ginger Kadlec… What is child maltreatment?

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Steve Sparks, age 10 in 1956, was a victim of “child maltreatment” during his early child and young adult life…

Child Maltreatment is Real!  Quote from Ginger Kadlec’s “Be a Child’s Hero Daily” website…

“Child “maltreatment” is defined as “violent or cruel treatment” and encompasses a variety of abuses including physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.  Researchers reviewed nearly 5.7 million confirmed cases of maltreatment that were registered in the The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). This study found that approximately 80% of the child maltreatment cases involved neglect.”

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Child advocate, blogger and children’s author “wanna-be” working to improve the world one child at a time. Join Ginger’s efforts via her website at www.gingerkadlec.com.

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Be a Kid’s Hero Daily…  Click on this website and subscribe to updates…  Quote from Ginger Kadlec…

“With an estimated 1 in 8 children victimized by maltreatment in the United States, child abuse is a problem of pandemic proportion. While it can be a difficult subject to discuss, we must address the issue of child abuse head-on to ensure the safety of little ones who entrust their very lives to the big people around them.”

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Ginger Kadlec is one of my favorite heroes!  She is by any measure an example of “Be a Kid’s Hero Daily.”  Ginger and I became friends a couple of years ago and collaborated on an article, The War Within: PTSD, (click highlighted text) that remains very popular to this day…  Ginger and I stay in touch on a regular basis.  She gave me great encouragement and helped me on my own journey of healing following the publication of Reconciliation: A Son’s Story in November 2011.

I refer to my life as a child as the “too terrible to remember 1950’s and early 1960’s.  It took me most of my adult life to forgive my parents and the toxic life we lived while growing up.  Forgiveness was absolutely critical to healing from child abuse and emotional neglect during my early years as a kid and young adult.  My father suffered terribly as a victim of severe trauma from hard combat during all of WWII and deployment during the Korean War as well.  My mother developed severe symptoms of secondary PTSD from her own Depression Era childhood, and as a military spouse and mother from the “Greatest Generation.”  Dad passed away in 1998 and lived a relatively peaceful life during his last years following a regimen of mental health treatments.  Mother is turning 96 this September and still has flashbacks from those post WWII years as a caregiver for my father.  We siblings carried the emotional baggage of PTSD forward as well, which we now know as the intergenerational effect and impact of living in a toxic home where love and kindness is almost non-existent.  PTSD hangs on like bad genes if not treated effectively or if the trauma victim is in denial….

I enjoy peace of mind these days as a senior citizen.  No longer are the bad dreams, the constant anxiety, depression, and ache in my heart, including physical pain.  No child should have to live with toxic circumstances at home, at play, or in school…never!  I spend my life in retirement making a difference for kids in my work with Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon.  My life now is a blessing and a journey of healing, but still a work in progress.  Kids or adults who suffer from severe trauma often live with PTSD symptoms for a lifetime…the pain never leaves your heart and mind…but alternative treatment strategies keep my feet on the ground.  I am also blessed with an amazing spouse, family members, and great friends who help keep me focused on the love and kindness I so desperately needed as a kid, and didn’t discover until later in life…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… Click highlighted text for my author page…

 

Teach your children safety! Parents, teachers and caregivers…never let your guard down!

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Boston Children’s Museum…click for larger view…

Boston Children’s Museum Child Porn Bust… Quote from website article written by Paul Fest, WBZ…

According to prosecutors, an employee of the museum approached Boston Police and Suffolk prosecutors on April 9 after discovering an unfamiliar thumb drive in her car, plugging it into a computer, and finding that it contained apparent images of child pornography. The employee told investigators that she allowed some co-workers – including Fest – to use her car for errands and did not know who the owner of the thumb drive was.

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Click for larger view of this resource from Children’s Trust…

Family Support Training from Children’s Trust Massachusetts…  Quote from this website…

The Talking About Touching child personal safety curriculum is a research-based program for children Pre-K to Grade 3 developed by Committee for Children in Seattle, Washington. It offers age appropriate ways to teach children skills to keep them safe from the dangers of abusive situations. Talking About Touching empowers children to tell an adult to get help if something happened. Participants learn skills to take an active role in protecting children from abuse by learning best practices to teach Talking About Touching to staff, children, and parents, understand and train others on the indicators of abuse, how to handle disclosures, and about the responsibilities of being a mandated reporter.

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Child Safety for Pre-schoolers from OneToughJob.org…  Quote from this website…

Child personal safety tips for young children

  • Teach your child to know and say his first name and last name.
  • Discuss with your child what he can do to make sure other children do not get lost.
  • Teach your child about the “buddy system” and how to use it.
  • Help your child remember that guns are not toys. If someone wants to play with a gun, he should say, “No, that’s not safe,” and then tell a grown-up about the gun.
  • Teach your child the “always-ask-first-rule.” Teach your child that he must always ask you or another person in charge first to go somewhere with someone. Your child must understand that he must ask first to go away with someone. Practice the “always-ask-first-rule” with your child.
  • Tell your child that if someone is touching him and he wants them to stop, he can and needs to say words that mean “No!” Let your child know, the person must stop the touching. Similarly, if your child is touching someone else and that person says, “No,” your child needs to be respectful and stop.
  • Help your child practice safety rules , like saying “No,” getting away, and telling a responsible grown up.
  • Your child should know this rule: A bigger person should not touch a child’s private body parts except to keep them clean and healthy. If someone does, a child needs to say words that mean “No.” Then get away and tell a grown up.
  • Tell your child to never keep a secret about touching.

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As a board member and children’s advocate of www.neighborsforkids.org…”Kids Zone” in Depoe Bay, Oregon, this news hits close to home!  We just received, follow-up child safety training, entitled “Darkness to Light,” from the Lincoln County Children’s Advocacy Center…  As a non-profit public private partnership we are mandated to be up to speed on child abuse legal reporting guidelines and what to look for.  Child safety is our number one priority at Kids Zone!  Safety is probably the one topic we talk about the most with parents, staff, and at our monthly board meetings.  In our mission statement, “safe” is the most critical word we use.

“Neighbors for Kids’ mission is to provide youth in our region with educational enrichment, positive youth development, and recreational activities; all in a safe environment, which focuses them toward healthy lifestyles and leads them to become responsible, contributing adults.” 

Please take quality time and check out the story and critical resources referenced above.  Please do your part in helping to keep our kids safe!

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

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Vice Chair, Neighbors for Kids, Depoe, Bay, Oregon

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