Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Post-Traumatic Childhood

Post-Traumatic Childhood By BESSEL A. van der KOLK
Op-Ed Contributor May 10, 2011 Brookline, Mass

describes graphic stories

....Rather than being subjected to bullets and bombs, children are victimized by those who are meant to care for them. These are children like a 3-year-old girl in Anchorage who was found by a police officer in her crib, hungry, underweight and covered in her own feces; an 11-year-old boy in New York City who has had violent outbursts since he was sexually molested, and whose terror of being alone makes him a subject of ridicule by his classmates; or a 14-year-old girl in Boston who set fire to a church and repeatedly attempted suicide after being beaten at home. The Pew Charitable Trusts estimates that the annual cost of childhood maltreatment like this is $103.8 billion.

Inspired by the work of the National Center for PTSD, Congress authorized the establishment of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network in 2001 to evaluate and develop treatments for traumatized children nationwide, with a budget that is now $40 million — about the cost of keeping 40 soldiers fighting in Afghanistan for one year.

President Obama’s 2012 budget has proposed a 70 percent reduction in financing for the network. That would be devastating for these children. The network has knitted together 130 clinics and universities in 38 states that specialize in helping traumatized children and adolescents. It has allowed the members to develop treatment programs and to hire and educate the staff to run them, enabling 322,000 children nationwide to get treatment from July 2002 to September 2009.

According to the latest figures available, 2.9 million children were mistreated in 2006, many of whom manifested serious behavioral and psychological problems. The network has started to document how trauma affects developing brains differently from those of adults exposed to wartime violence....

Most traumatized children now do not even receive a proper mental health assessment. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of them are numbed by powerful drugs that help control their “bad behavior,” but that don’t deal with the imprint of terror and helplessness on their minds and brains....

Untreated, traumatized children become failing adults who populate our jails and overwhelm our human services agencies. Cutting the development of effective treatments will produce many years of increasing costs and unquantifiable human misery.

Bessel A. van der Kolk, a professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, is the founder and medical director of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute.

Child Abuse and Neglect Cost Nation over $100 Billion per Year
Washington, DC - 01/29/2008 - An economic impact analysis released today estimates the costs of child abuse and neglect to society were nearly $104 billion last year, and a companion report highlights the unavailability of federal child welfare funding for programs and services known to be effective at reducing incidences of child abuse and neglect.

Total Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States, by Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA) and Time for Reform: Investing in Prevention, Keeping Children Safe At Home, by Kids Are Waiting (KAW), a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts, show that while the economic costs associated with child abuse and neglect rose to a staggering $103.8 billion in 2007, merely ten percent of federal money dedicated for child welfare, approximately $741.9 million, can currently be used to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring by strengthening families.

The PCAA report documents pervasive and long-lasting effects of child abuse on children, their families, and society as a whole. The $103.8 billion cost of child abuse and neglect includes more than $33 billion in direct costs for foster care services, hospitalization, mental health treatment, and law enforcement. Indirect costs of over $70 billion include loss of productivity, as well as expenditures related to chronic health problems, special education, and the criminal justice system.

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