Healthy, happy kids grow up to create a healthy, happy world.
These questions came out of post I did about Arizona's child abuse task force. They're pulled out here because I really would like your feedback on these questions.
It seems to me that in our society's efforts to reduce and prevent child trauma, we have a huge issue with definition and language. As long as we continue to focus on the traditional definitions of child abuse -- emotional, physical, sexual abuse and emotional and physical neglect -- we miss grappling with the trauma of family dysfunction that also harms a child's developing brain.
And by using the words "child abuse", we automatically attach a criminal definition.
Would expanding our language from "child abuse" to "child trauma" or "toxic stress", and expanding our definition to include other things that harm a child help us create a healthier world for children?
I think it may be advisable to use the term toxic stress in the context of other kinds of stress, so a person can distinguish all of the categories of stress.
Jane, you bring up a very good point. I think some of our high risk parents would respond better to "child trauma" instead of jumping to the defense when approached for "child abuse." I wonder by changing the language if this would open some doors to getting parents to seek some help or be willing to participate in family reconciliation services. I have a large poster in my office that lists the 10 ACE's along with attributes that build resilience to trump the ACE's in one's life. I have had some very meaningful conversations with parents as they identify their own ACE's by looking at the chart and then listening as I share with them how they can trump those ACE's by developing meaningful adult relationships for support. I don't ask them to reveal their ACE's, I just ask them to look at the chart and share how many ACE's they have experienced in their lives. The problem is so overwhelming, I think we start with one parent at a time. Thanks for all that you do Jane! Jim
That's so interesting that you talk with parents about ACEs & resilience factors, Jim. What's been the response? Have some parents embraced it? Do any think it's ridiculous?