University of Basel study: Callous and unemotional traits show in brain structure of boys only, study finds

14 Jan

Gary Wilson wrote a thoughtful article about some of the learning challenges faced by boys. Boys Barriers to Learning which was incorporated into his books https://www.garywilsonraisingboysachievement.com/ He lists several barriers to learning in this article:

1. Early years
a. Language development problems
b. Listening skills development
2. Writing skills and learning outcomes
A significant barrier to many boys’ learning, that begins at quite an early age and often never leaves them, is the perception that most writing that they are expected to do is largely irrelevant and unimportant….
3. Gender bias
Gender bias in everything from resources to teacher expectations has the potential to present further barriers to boys’ learning. None more so than the gender bias evident in the ways in which we talk to boys and talk to girls. We need to be ever mindful of the frequency, the nature and the quality of our interactions with boys and our interactions with girls in the classroom….A potential mismatch of teaching and learning styles to boys’ preferred ways of working continues to be a barrier for many boys….
4. Reflection and evaluation
The process of reflection is a weakness in many boys, presenting them with perhaps one of the biggest barriers of all. The inability of many boys to, for example, write evaluations, effectively stems from this weakness….
5. Self-esteem issues
Low self-esteem is clearly a very significant barrier to many boys’ achievement in school. If we were to think of the perfect time to de-motivate boys, when would that be? Some might say in the early years of education when many get their first unwelcome and never forgotten taste of failure might believe in the system… and themselves, for a while, but not for long….
6. Peer pressure
Peer pressure, or the anti-swot culture, is clearly a major barrier to many boys’ achievement. Those lucky enough to avoid it tend to be good academically, but also good at sport. This gives them a licence to work hard as they can also be ‘one of the lads’. …To me one of the most significant elements of peer pressure for boys is the impact it has on the more affective domains of the curriculum, namely expressive, creative and performing arts. It takes a lot of courage for a boy to turn up for the first day at high school carrying a violin case….
7. Talk to them!
There are many barriers to boys’ learning (I’m currently saying 31, but I’m still working on it!) and an ever-increasing multitude of strategies that we can use to address them. I firmly believe that a close examination of a school’s own circumstances is the only way to progress through this maze and that the main starting point has to be with the boys themselves. They do know all the issues around their poor levels of achievement. Talk to them first. I also believe that one of the most important strategies is to let them know you’re ‘on their case’, talking to them provides this added bonus….

If your boy has achievement problems, Wilson emphasizes that there is no one answer to address the problems. There are issues that will be specific to each child.

Science Daily reported in Callous and unemotional traits show in brain structure of boys only, study finds:

Callous-unemotional traits have been linked to deficits in development of the conscience and of empathy. Children and adolescents react less to negative stimuli; they often prefer risky activities and show less caution or fear. In recent years, researchers and doctors have given these personality traits increased attention, since they have been associated with the development of more serious and persistent antisocial behavior.
However, until now, most research in this area has focused on studying callous-unemotional traits in populations with a psychiatric diagnosis, especially conduct disorder. This meant that it was unclear whether associations between callous-unemotional traits and brain structure were only present in clinical populations with increased aggression, or whether the antisocial behavior and aggression explained the brain differences.
Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers were able to take a closer look at the brain development of typically-developing teenagers to find out whether callous-unemotional traits are linked to differences in brain structure. The researchers were particularly interested to find out if the relationship between callous-unemotional traits and brain structure differs between boys and girls. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171227100037.htm

Citation:

Callous and unemotional traits show in brain structure of boys only, study finds
Date: December 27, 2017
Source: University of Basel
Summary:
allous-unemotional traits are linked to differences in brain structure in boys, but not girls. This report is based on a study on brain development in 189 adolescents.

Journal Reference:
1. Nora Maria Raschle, Willeke Martine Menks, Lynn Valérie Fehlbaum, Martin Steppan, Areti Smaragdi, Karen Gonzalez-Madruga, Jack Rogers, Roberta Clanton, Gregor Kohls, Anne Martinelli, Anka Bernhard, Kerstin Konrad, Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, Christine M. Freitag, Graeme Fairchild, Stephane A. De Brito, Christina Stadler. Callous-unemotional traits and brain structure: Sex-specific effects in anterior insula of typically-developing youths. NeuroImage: Clinical, 2018; 17: 856 DOI: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.12.015

Here is the press release from University of Basel:

27 December 2017
Callous and Unemotional Traits Show in Brain Structure of Boys Only
Callous-unemotional traits are linked to differences in brain structure in boys, but not girls. This reports a European research team led by the University of Basel and University of Basel Psychiatric Hospital in a study on brain development in 189 adolescents. The journal Neuroimage: Clinical has published the results.
Callous-unemotional traits have been linked to deficits in development of the conscience and of empathy. Children and adolescents react less to negative stimuli; they often prefer risky activities and show less caution or fear. In recent years, researchers and doctors have given these personality traits increased attention, since they have been associated with the development of more serious and persistent antisocial behavior.
However, until now, most research in this area has focused on studying callous-unemotional traits in populations with a psychiatric diagnosis, especially conduct disorder. This meant that it was unclear whether associations between callous-unemotional traits and brain structure were only present in clinical populations with increased aggression, or whether the antisocial behavior and aggression explained the brain differences.
Related Links
• FemNat-CD
Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers were able to take a closer look at the brain development of typically-developing teenagers to find out whether callous-unemotional traits are linked to differences in brain structure. The researchers were particularly interested to find out if the relationship between callous-unemotional traits and brain structure differs between boys and girls.
Only boys show differences in brain structure
The findings show that in typically-developing boys, the volume of the anterior insula – a brain region implicated in recognizing emotions in others and empathy – is larger in those with higher levels of callous-unemotional traits. This variation in brain structure was only seen in boys, but not in girls with the same personality traits.
“Our findings demonstrate that callous-unemotional traits are related to differences in brain structure in typically-developing boys without a clinical diagnosis,” explains lead author Nora Maria Raschle from the University and the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland. “In a next step, we want to find out what kind of trigger leads some of these children to develop mental health problems later in life while others never develop problems.”
This study is part of the FemNAT-CD project, a large Europe-wide research project aiming at investigating neurobiology and treatment of adolescent female conduct disorder.
Original article
Nora Maria Raschle et al. Callous-unemotional traits and brain structure: Sex-specific effects in anterior insula of typically-developing youths
Neuro Image: Clinical (2018) | doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.12.015
________________________________________
Further Information
Dr. Nora Maria Raschle, University of Basel, Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel, phone: +41 61 265 89 75, email: nora.raschle@upkbs.ch

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country because too many social engineers are advocating that there is no difference between cognitive and behavior of the genders. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/jonathan-cohns-the-two-year-window/

Related:

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

Girls and math phobia
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?
https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

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University of Minnesota study: Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap

30 Dec

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader writes in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening.
The Jan. 30 report from STEMconnector and My College Options — titled “Where Are the STEM Students?” — underscores the importance of these fields for our nation’s future economic well-being. It also presents a challenge for all of us in education, from kindergarten through college, to increase interest levels in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the so-called STEM fields — for all types of students.
While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.
How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.
Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions.
But thanks to the rise of cloud computing, information systems and the app economy, 71 percent of the new STEM jobs in 2018 are projected to be in the computing fields. Getting girls interested in these fields at a young age will be critical if we are to meet the coming demand for talented and well-educated computer scientists, computer engineers and game designers.
With this in mind, it’s important to convey to young women computing’s role in serving society. We should show a young woman how a computer science degree could equip her to design a new app to diagnose illness. That may appeal more to her desire to help others than, say, showing her how to write code for yet another online game.
Programs like Project Lead the Way, which introduces middle school and high school students to engineering and science, help students learn more about these fields at an early age. In Missouri, 165 high schools and middle schools are using PLTW’s engineering and biomedical sciences materials to generate more interest in those areas. http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

Science Daily reported in Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap:

Male students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study published in PLOS ONE confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.
Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and Cissy Ballen, a postdoctoral associate in Cotner’s lab, base their findings on a year-long study of students in nine introductory biology courses. They found that female students did not underperform in courses where exams count for less than half of the total course grade. In a separate study, instructors changed the curriculum in three different courses to place higher or lesser value on high-stakes exams (e.g., midterms and finals) and observed gender-biased patterns in performance.
“When the value of exams is changed, performance gaps increase or decrease accordingly,” says Cotner.
These findings build on recent research by Cotner and Ballen that showed that on average, women’s exam performance is adversely affected by test anxiety. By moving to a “mixed model” of student assessment — including lower-stakes exams, as well as quizzes and other assignments — instructors can decrease well established performance gaps between male and female students in science courses….
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171228170646.htm

Citation:

Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap
Findings suggest that changing how instructors assess students could help close the achievement gap in introductory STEM courses
Date: December 28, 2017
Source: University of Minnesota
Summary:
ale students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.

Journal Reference:
1. Sehoya Cotner, Cissy J. Ballen. Can mixed assessment methods make biology classes more equitable? PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (12): e0189610 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189610

Here is the press release from the University of Minnesota:

Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap
December 27, 2017
Contacts
Male students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study published in PLOS ONE confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.
Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and Cissy Ballen, a postdoctoral associate in Cotner’s lab, base their findings on a year-long study of students in nine introductory biology courses. They found that female students did not underperform in courses where exams count for less than half of the total course grade. In a separate study, instructors changed the curriculum in three different courses to place higher or lesser value on high-stakes exams (e.g., midterms and finals) and observed gender-biased patterns in performance.
“When the value of exams is changed, performance gaps increase or decrease accordingly,” says Cotner.
These findings build on recent research by Cotner and Ballen that showed that on average, women’s exam performance is adversely affected by test anxiety. By moving to a “mixed model” of student assessment — including lower-stakes exams, as well as quizzes and other assignments — instructors can decrease well established performance gaps between male and female students in science courses.
“This is not simply due to a ‘watering down’ of poor performance through the use of easy points,” says Cotner. “Rather, on the exams themselves, women perform on par with men when the stakes are not so high.”
The researchers point to these varied assessments as a potential reason why the active-learning approach, which shifts the focus away from lectures and lecture halls to more collaborative spaces and group-based work, appears to decrease the performance gap between students.
“As people transition to active learning, they tend to incorporate a diversity of low-stakes, formative assessments into their courses,” Cotner says. “We think that it is this use of mixed assessment that advantages students who are otherwise underserved in the large introductory science courses.”
Cotner and Ballen also see their findings as a potential to reframe gaps in student performance.
“Many barriers students face can be mitigated by instructional choices,” says Cotner. “We conclude by challenging the student deficit model, and suggest a course deficit model as explanatory of these performance gaps, whereby the microclimate of the classroom can either raise or lower barriers to success for underrepresented groups in STEM.”

The University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences seeks to improve human welfare and global conditions by advancing knowledge of the mechanisms of life and preparing students to create the biology of tomorrow. Learn more at cbs.umn.edu.

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein. https://drwilda.com/2012/05/30/research-papers-student-motivation-an-overlooked-piece-of-school-reform/
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/31/study-elementary-school-teachers-have-an-impact-on-girls-math-learning/

Related:

Girls and math phobia
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning? https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

University of Buffalo study: Social workers lack tools to identify potential chronic child neglect, study suggests

17 Dec

Psychology Today defined child neglect:

Definition
Child neglect is defined as a type of maltreatment related to the failure to provide needed, age-appropriate care. Unlike physical and sexual abuse, neglect is usually typified by an ongoing pattern of inadequate care and is readily observed by individuals in close contact with the child. Once children are in school, personnel often notice indicators of child neglect such as poor hygiene, poor weight gain, inadequate medical care, or frequent absences from school. Professionals have defined four types of neglect: physical, emotional, educational, and medical.
More children suffer from neglect in the United States than from physical and sexual abuse combined. The US Department of Health and Human Services found that in 2007 there were 794,000 victims of child maltreatment in the US, of those victims 59% were victims of neglect. Some researchers have proposed 5 different types of neglect: physical neglect, emotional neglect, medical neglect, mental health neglect, and educational neglect. States may code any maltreatment type that does not fall into one of the main categories—physical abuse, neglect, medical neglect, sexual abuse, and psychological or emotional maltreatment—as “other.”
In spite of this, neglect has received significantly less attention than physical and sexual abuse by practitioners, researchers, and the media. One explanation may be that neglect is so difficult to identify. Neglect often is an act of omission. But neglecting children’s needs can be just as injurious as striking out at them.
Additional Information
For 2003, 47.3 percent of child victims were boys, and 50.7 percent of the victims were girls. The youngest children had the highest rate of victimization. The rate of child victimization of the age group of birth to 3 years was 16.5 per 1,000 children. The victimization rate of children in the age group of 4-7 years was 13.5 per 1,000 children. Nearly three-quarters of child victims (73.1 percent) ages birth to 3 years were neglected compared with 52.7 percent of victims ages 16 years and older…. https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/child-neglect

Child neglect occurs in all societies.

NSPCC described the signs of child neglect in Neglect Signs, indicators and effects:
Neglect can have serious and long-lasting effects. It can be anything from leaving a child home alone to the very worst cases where a child dies from malnutrition or being denied the care they need. In some cases it can cause permanent disabilities.
Neglect can be really difficult to identify, making it hard for professionals to take early action to protect a child.
Having one of the signs or symptoms below doesn’t necessarily mean that a child is being neglected. But if you notice multiple, or persistent, signs then it could indicate there’s a serious problem.
Children who are neglected may have:

Poor appearance and hygiene
Health and development problems
Housing and family issues

Children who are neglected often suffer other forms of abuse.
Things you may notice
If you’re worried that a child is being abused, watch out for any unusual behaviour.
• withdrawn
• suddenly behaves differently
• anxious
• clingy
• depressed
• aggressive
• problems sleeping
• eating disorders
• wets the bed
• soils clothes
• takes risks
• misses school
• changes in eating habits
• obsessive behaviour
• nightmares
• drugs
• alcohol
• self-harm
• thoughts about suicide
Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of child abuse.

The impact of neglect
Children who have been neglected may experience short-term and long-term effects that last throughout their life.
Children who don’t get the love and care they need from their parents may find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships with other people later in life, including their own children.
Children who have been neglected are more likely to experience mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Young people may also take risks, such as running away from home, breaking the law, abusing drugs or alcohol, or getting involved in dangerous relationships – putting them at risk from sexual exploitation. https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/neglect/signs-symptoms-effects-neglect/ https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/neglect/signs-symptoms-effects-neglect

A University of Buffalo study reported social workers lack tools to identify child neglect.

Science Daily reported in Social workers lack tools to identify potential chronic child neglect, study suggests:

Neglect accounts for more than 75 percent of all child protection cases in the United States, yet, despite this alarming frequency, child welfare workers lack effective assessment tools for identifying the associated risk and protective factors of chronic neglect, according to Patricia Logan-Greene, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work.
Logan-Greene is the author of a newly published study with Annette Semanchin Jones, also an assistant professor of social work at UB, which suggests that the ineffective assessments are often the result of using instruments that are not specifically designed to include elements predicting chronic neglect.
Generally speaking, neglect refers to a lack of adequate care, including failure to meet basic needs like food and housing, lack of supervision, missing essential medical care and educational neglect. Chronic neglect refers to repeated incidents of neglect, often across several developmental stages.
The effects of chronic neglect can impact early brain development, cognitive development and emotional regulation, but even within child protection agencies, social workers might rate neglect cases as lower risk when compared to what they consider more serious offenses.
The authors say that many child protection agencies, in the absence of properly targeted assessments, turn to standardized assessments that do not address the potential accumulation of harm due to chronic neglect….’’
The authors identified critical predictors of chronic neglect, such as hazardous housing, mismanaged finances and alcohol abuse, which Logan-Greene says can help determine which families need help the most.
The primary caregiver in families with chronic neglect was also more likely to have a history of domestic violence, drug use and mental health problems.
Knowledge of these factors also makes it more likely to either develop new, more effective tools or to modify current ones that focus on chronic neglect.
“One of the implications here is that we could potentially add to or adjust standardized assessments so we could use them for chronic neglect,” says Semanchin Jones. “There are many ways neglect impacts on the well-being of these children, so if we know that, we can then intervene for families that might go on to develop chronic neglect.”
The findings, which add critical new insights to the understudied area of chronic child neglect, appear in the journal Child & Family Social Work…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171214142028.htm

Citation:

Social workers lack tools to identify potential chronic child neglect, study suggests
Date: December 14, 2017
Source: University at Buffalo
Summary:
Neglect accounts for the majority of all child protection cases in the United States, yet child welfare workers lack effective assessment tools for identifying the associated risk and protective factors of chronic neglect. The ineffective assessments are often the result of using instruments that are not specifically designed to include elements predicting chronic neglect, according to a new study.

Journal Reference:
1. Patricia Logan-Greene, Annette Semanchin Jones. Predicting chronic neglect: Understanding risk and protective factors for CPS-involved families. Child & Family Social Work, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/cfs.12414

Here is the press release from the University of Buffalo:

Study suggests social workers lack tools to identify potential chronic child neglect
By Bert Gambini
Release Date: December 14, 2017

“Most of the time child neglect is considered among the least damaging forms of maltreatment compared to physical and sexual abuse, but we do have research that neglect and chronic neglect, especially, are significantly detrimental to children even when they’re not physically harmed.”
Patricia Logan-Greene, assistant professor of social work
University at Buffalo
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Neglect accounts for more than 75 percent of all child protection cases in the United States, yet, despite this alarming frequency, child welfare workers lack effective assessment tools for identifying the associated risk and protective factors of chronic neglect, according to Patricia Logan-Greene, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work.
Logan-Greene is the author of a newly published study with Annette Semanchin Jones, also an assistant professor of social work at UB, which suggests that the ineffective assessments are often the result of using instruments that are not specifically designed to include elements predicting chronic neglect.
Generally speaking, neglect refers to a lack of adequate care, including failure to meet basic needs like food and housing, lack of supervision, missing essential medical care and educational neglect. Chronic neglect refers to repeated incidents of neglect, often across several developmental stages.
The effects of chronic neglect can impact early brain development, cognitive development and emotional regulation, but even within child protection agencies, social workers might rate neglect cases as lower risk when compared to what they consider more serious offenses.
The authors say that many child protection agencies, in the absence of properly targeted assessments, turn to standardized assessments that do not address the potential accumulation of harm due to chronic neglect.
“Most of these tools weren’t developed with chronic neglect in mind at all, but even the standardized assessments, according to the results, weren’t consistently implemented,” says Logan-Greene. “We know from previous research, for example, that having in place good support systems protects against neglect, yet 99 percent of families with chronic neglect are categorized as having good support.
“That can’t possibly be true.”
“There’s a real opportunity here for states to look at implementation practices and train case workers to ensure effective implementation,” says Semanchin Jones.
The authors identified critical predictors of chronic neglect, such as hazardous housing, mismanaged finances and alcohol abuse, which Logan-Greene says can help determine which families need help the most.
The primary caregiver in families with chronic neglect was also more likely to have a history of domestic violence, drug use and mental health problems.
Knowledge of these factors also makes it more likely to either develop new, more effective tools or to modify current ones that focus on chronic neglect.
“One of the implications here is that we could potentially add to or adjust standardized assessments so we could use them for chronic neglect,” says Semanchin Jones. “There are many ways neglect impacts on the well-being of these children, so if we know that, we can then intervene for families that might go on to develop chronic neglect.”
The findings, which add critical new insights to the understudied area of chronic child neglect, appear in the journal Child & Family Social Work.
In addition to the prevalence of neglect, Logan-Greene mentions the ironic “neglect of neglect” in research, as noted decades ago by the child welfare scholar Leroy Pelton.
And while Pelton’s words still have an element of truth today, Logan-Greene and Semanchin Jones are among those researchers contributing to a growing body of literature on chronic neglect.
The challenges begin at a basic level.
Although evidence points to the seriousness of neglect, there is no federal definition of the term. Different states have different standards and because some child welfare systems exist as county-administered agencies, the definition of neglect can vary even within a particular state.
“Most of the time child neglect is considered among the least damaging forms of maltreatment compared to physical and sexual abuse, but we do have research that neglect and chronic neglect, especially, are significantly detrimental to children even when they’re not physically harmed,” says Logan-Greene.
For their study, Logan-Greene and Semanchin Jones conceptualized chronic neglect as five or more reports investigated by child protection agencies over a five-year period.
The research was prospective with the authors looking at roughly 2,000 cases from the time of a first neglect report and then followed the families into the future to determine if that neglect became chronic.
“We compared those who never had another report to others, and we also compared them using the agency’s risk assessment tools to determine if that tool effectively predicted chronic neglect,” says Semanchin Jones.
Media Contact Information
Bert Gambini
News Content Manager
Arts and Humanities, Economics, Social Sciences, Social Work
Tel: 716-645-5334
gambini@buffalo.edu

Strategies to identify child neglect must be researched and refined.

Prevent Child Abuse America described strategies for preventing child neglect:

Prevent Child Abuse America advocates for:
• Increasing services to families such as home visiting, early childhood education, and parent education.
Child neglect often occurs when parents are overwhelmed with an array of stressors, including the difficulties of coping with poverty and its many associated burdens, single parenthood, limited parenting skills, depression, substance abuse, interpersonal violence, as well as the daily stressors most parents face.1 Services such as home visiting, early childhood education, and parent education provide emotional support, knowledge, and guidance on how to provide a nurturing environment for children. In addition, ensuring that all children have a quality education will help ensure this important need is met. Other services can assist potential parents in considering their readiness for a family, the number of children they wish to have, and appropriate spacing between births. These services can also help parents effectively care for the children they already have. In sum, services that strengthen families and support parents should in turn enhance children’s development, health and safety, and help prevent child neglect.
• Providing mental health services to parents and neglected children and youth.
Many neglected children have parents who are emotionally unstable or depressed.2 Mental health services can assist such parents to become emotionally healthier and better able to adequately care for their children. In addition, children often face adverse and potentially long-term psychological consequences due to neglect. Mental health services, especially at an early point, can help mitigate these consequences and can help ensure that neglect is not transmitted to the next generation.
• Ensuring access for all children to affordable, quality health care, including prenatal, dental, and mental health services.
Access to health care is critical to child and family well-being and helps protect against neglect. Without health insurance, families are less likely to seek timely and preventive health care. When they do, the cost of that care contributes to a family’s economic insecurity. Both of these are risk factors for neglect. In addition, children’s health care providers are a valuable source of support and advice for parents as they raise their children. They inform parents about community resources such as home visiting programs and parent support groups that can help prevent child abuse before it happens and provide information about child development and strategies for dealing with a variety of parenting challenges.
• Increasing efforts to address social problems such as poverty, substance abuse, and family violence which contribute to neglect.
Neglect is often intertwined with social problems, such as poverty, substance abuse, and family violence. It is crucial that greater resources be allocated to reduce these major problems that contribute to neglect. Such efforts must include the prevention of child neglect as an explicit goal.
• Increasing public awareness efforts to educate the public about child neglect, its seriousness, and how they can help prevent it, as well as foster a shared sense of societal responsibility.
Raising public awareness of the serious and pervasive nature of child neglect is essential in order for real change to occur. Children interact with an array of people in their community who play a vital role in their development. We need to recognize this and mobilize significant financial and human resources to address the problem. A public that appreciates the serious and pervasive nature of child neglect should be a crucial ally for necessary changes. They can help advocate for and support the policies and programs needed to enhance children’s development, health and safety, and help prevent their neglect.
• Increasing research efforts to improve our understanding of child neglect abuse – its nature, extent, causes, and consequences, as well as what helps prevent and address it.
Our current understanding of child neglect is limited. A better understanding is essential to guide policymakers and practitioners to develop policies and programs to tackle neglect. A variety of programs have been developed aiming to optimize children’s development, health and safety. Careful evaluation is needed to learn what works, and to replicate effective programs. It is also likely that new policies and programs addressing child neglect need to be developed and evaluated….. http://preventchildabuse.org/resource/preventing-child-neglect/

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy social in a healthy neighborhood (c)

Resources:

Chronic Child Neglect https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/chronic-neglect/

Chronic Neglect Can Lead to Aggression in Kids https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/04/22/chronic-neglect-can-lead-to-aggression-in-kids/83788.html

Child Neglect https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/child-neglect

Neglect https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/neglect/
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Michigan State University study: Discrimination harms your health and your partner’s health

10 Dec

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) list the following types of discrimination:

Discrimination by Type
Learn about the various types of discrimination prohibited by the laws enforced by EEOC. We also provide links to the relevant laws, regulations and policy guidance, and also fact sheets, Q&As, best practices, and other information.
• Age
• Disability
• Equal Pay/Compensation
• Genetic Information
• Harassment
• National Origin
• Pregnancy
• Race/Color
• Religion
• Retaliation
• Sex
• Sexual Harassment
https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/

The EEOC describes the following types of laws:

Laws & Guidance
Federal Laws prohibit workplace discrimination and are enforced by EEOC. These are passed by Congress and signed by the President.
Regulations implement federal workplace discrimination laws. They are voted on by the Commission after the public has a formal opportunity to provide comments to EEOC. Find our current regulations, read and comment on proposed regulations, and see our regulatory agenda at the link above.
EEOC Subregulatory Guidance expresses official agency policy and explains how the laws and regulations apply to specific workplace situations. EEOC seeks and obtains input from the public in a variety of ways for these documents before they are voted on by the Commission.
Commission Decisions concern a specific charge of discrimination where the Commission votes to express official agency policy to be applied in similar cases by EEOC. They should not be confused with EEOC’s federal sector appellate decisions in federal employee complaints of discrimination.
Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) explain how two or more agencies will cooperate and interact when their enforcement responsibilities overlap. MOUs involving other federal agencies must be approved by a majority of the Commissioners. EEOC also enters into MOUs with foreign embassies and consulates to enhance cooperation on matters involving employment discrimination.
EEOC Resource Documents assist the public in understanding existing EEOC positions. Since they do not create new policy, they are not voted on by the Commission.
Workplace Laws Not Enforced by the EEOC
Federal laws prohibiting discrimination or regulating workplace issues that are not enforced by the EEOC. https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/index.cfm
Findlaw describes discrimination.
According to Findlaw discrimination is:
Lawful vs. Unlawful Discrimination
Not all types of discrimination will violate federal and/or state laws that prohibit discrimination. Some types of unequal treatment are perfectly legal, and cannot form the basis for a civil rights case alleging discrimination. The examples below illustrate the difference between lawful and unlawful discrimination.
Example 1: Applicant 1, an owner of two dogs, fills out an application to lease an apartment from Landlord. Upon learning that Applicant 1 is a dog owner, Landlord refuses to lease the apartment to her, because he does not want dogs in his building. Here, Landlord has not committed a civil rights violation by discriminating against Applicant 1 based solely on her status as a pet owner. Landlord is free to reject apartment applicants who own pets.
Example 2: Applicant 2, an African American man, fills out an application to lease an apartment from Landlord. Upon learning that Applicant 2 is an African American, Landlord refuses to lease the apartment to him, because he prefers to have Caucasian tenants in his building. Here, Landlord has committed a civil rights violation by discriminating against Applicant 2 based solely on his race. Under federal and state fair housing and anti-discrimination laws, Landlord may not reject apartment applicants because of their race.
Where Can Discrimination Occur?
Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against members of protected groups (identified above) in a number of settings, including:
• Education
• Employment
• Housing
• Government benefits and services
• Health care services
• Land use / zoning
• Lending and credit
• Public accommodations (Access to buildings and businesses)
• Transportation
• Voting
Anti-Discrimination Laws
Most laws prohibiting discrimination, and many legal definitions of “discriminatory” acts, originated at the federal level through either:
• Federal legislation, like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
• Other federal acts (supplemented by court decisions) prohibit discrimination in voting rights, housing, extension of credit, public education, and access to public facilities.
OR
• Federal court decisions, like the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which was the impetus for nationwide racial desegregation of public schools. Other Supreme Court cases have shaped the definition of discriminatory acts like sexual harassment, and the legality of anti-discrimination remedies such as affirmative action programs.
Today, most states have anti-discrimination laws of their own which mirror those at the federal level. For example, in the state of Texas, Title 2 Chapter 21 of the Labor Code prohibits employment discrimination. Many of the mandates in this Texas law are based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law making employment discrimination unlawful…. http://civilrights.findlaw.com/civil-rights-overview/what-is-discrimination.html

A Michigan State University study reported that discrimination harms both the victim and the victim’s partner.

Science Daily reported in Discrimination harms your health and your partner’s health:

Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but the victim’s romantic partner as well, indicates new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.
The work, which analyzed a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,000 couples, is the first study to consider how the discrimination experiences of both people in a relationship are associated with their health. The findings are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
“We found that when an individual experiences discrimination, they report worse health and depression. However, that’s not the full story — this stress spills over and affects the health of their partner as well,” said William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology who conducted the study with current and former MSU students.
The researchers studied the survey data of 1,949 couples ranging in age from 50 to 94. Survey participants reported on incidents of discrimination, as well as on their health, depression and relationship strain and closeness.
Chopik said the study found that it didn’t matter where the discrimination came from (e.g., because of race, age, gender or other factors). “What matters is that they felt that they were unfairly treated. That’s what had the biggest impact on the person’s health.”
And that discrimination had a spillover affect on the person’s spouse or partner. Because people are embedded in relationships, what happens in those relationships affects our health and well-being, Chopik said…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171207154506.htm

Citation:

Discrimination harms your health, and your partner’s, study shows
Date: December 7, 2017
Source: Michigan State University
Summary:
Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but the victim’s romantic partner as well, indicates new research.

Here is the press release from Michigan State University:

Published: Dec. 7, 2017
Discrimination harms your health – and your partner’s
Contact(s): William Chopik , Andy Henion
Discrimination not only harms the health and well-being of the victim, but the victim’s romantic partner as well, indicates new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.
The work, which analyzed a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,000 couples, is the first study to consider how the discrimination experiences of both people in a relationship are associated with their health. The findings are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
“We found that when an individual experiences discrimination, they report worse health and depression. However, that’s not the full story – this stress spills over and affects the health of their partner as well,” said William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology who conducted the study with current and former MSU students.
The researchers studied the survey data of 1,949 couples ranging in age from 50 to 94. Survey participants reported on incidents of discrimination, as well as on their health, depression and relationship strain and closeness.
Chopik said the study found that it didn’t matter where the discrimination came from (e.g., because of race, age, gender or other factors). “What matters is that they felt that they were unfairly treated. That’s what had the biggest impact on the person’s health.”
And that discrimination had a spillover affect on the person’s spouse or partner. Because people are embedded in relationships, what happens in those relationships affects our health and well-being, Chopik said.
“We found that a lot of the harmful effects of discrimination on health occurs because it’s so damaging to our relationships,” he said. “When one partner experiences discrimination, they bring that stress home with them and it strains the relationship. So this stress not only negatively affects their own health, but their partner’s as well.” http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/discrimination-harms-your-health-and-your-partners/

Discrimination harms relationships and produces toxic environments.

The Tanenbaum Center which honors the work of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum has a really good definition of the “Golden Rule” which is stated in an interview with Joyce Dubensky entitled, The Golden Rule Around the World. https://tanenbaum.org/tanenbaum-resources/the-golden-rule/ At the core of all bullying is a failure to recognize another’s humanity and a basic lack of respect for life. At the core of the demand for personal expression and failure to tolerate opinions which are not like one’s own is a self-centeredness which can destroy the very society it claims to want to protect.

Resources:

Examples of discrimination in society today https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/individuals-and-society/discrimination/a/examples-of-discrimination-in-society-today

The impact of prejudice on society http://www.collegian.psu.edu/news/crime_courts/article_a86ea0dc-270a-11e3-ad90-0019bb30f31a.html

The Effects of Racial, Sexual or Religious Discrimination https://lawlex.org/lex-bulletin/the-effects-of-racial-sexual-or-religious-discrimination/8682

Is discrimination wrong? http://www.debate.org/opinions/is-discrimination-wrong

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University of Exeter study: Asthma attacks reduced in tree-lined urban neighborhoods

19 Nov

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe how to tell if you have asthma:

How Can You Tell if You Have Asthma?
It can be hard to tell if someone has asthma, especially in children under age 5. Having a doctor check how well your lungs work and check for allergies can help you find out if you have asthma.
During a checkup, the doctor will ask if you cough a lot, especially at night, and whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or at certain times of year. The doctor will also ask about chest tightness, wheezing, and colds lasting more than 10 days. They will ask whether anyone in your family has or has had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems, and they will ask questions about your home. The doctor will also ask if you have missed school or work and about any trouble you may have doing certain things.
The doctor will also do a breathing test, called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working. The doctor will use a computer with a mouthpiece to test how much air you can breathe out after taking a very deep breath. The spirometer can measure airflow before and after you use asthma medicine.
What Is an Asthma Attack?
An asthma attack may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing. The attack happens in your body’s airways, which are the paths that carry air to your lungs. As the air moves through your lungs, the airways become smaller, like the branches of a tree are smaller than the tree trunk. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of your lungs, and mucous that your body makes clogs up the airways even more.
You can control your asthma by knowing the warning signs of an asthma attack, staying away from things that cause an attack, and following your doctor’s advice. When you control your asthma:
• you won’t have symptoms such as wheezing or coughing,
• you’ll sleep better,
• you won’t miss work or school,
• you can take part in all physical activities, and
• you won’t have to go to the hospital.
What Causes an Asthma Attack?
An asthma attack can happen when you are exposed to “asthma triggers”. Your triggers can be very different from those of someone else with asthma. Know your triggers and learn how to avoid them. Watch out for an attack when you can’t avoid the triggers. Some of the most common triggers are tobacco smoke, dust mites, outdoor air pollution, cockroach allergen, pets, mold, and smoke from burning wood or grass…. http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/faqs.htm

Urban trees can affect the quality of life and health.

The Nature Conservancy published How Urban Trees Can Save Lives:

The Planting Healthy Air report documents which cities stand to benefit most from tree plantings, in terms of both heat and PM reduction, and how much investment would be required to achieve meaningful benefits.
The analysis found that investing just US$4 per resident in each of these cities in tree planting efforts could improve the health of millions of people, and that trees are as cost-effective as many other common solutions.
Most of the cooling and filtering effects created by trees are fairly localized, so densely populated cities—as well as those with higher overall pollution levels—tend to see the highest overall return on investment (ROI) from tree plantings…. https://global.nature.org/content/healthyair

Exeter University reported that asthma attacks were reduced in tree-lined urban areas.

Science Daily reported in Asthma attacks reduced in tree-lined urban neighborhoods:

People living in polluted urban areas are far less likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma when there are lots of trees in their neighbourhood, a study by the University of Exeter’s medical school has found.
The study into the impact of urban greenery on asthma suggests that respiratory health can be improved by the expansion of tree cover in very polluted urban neighbourhoods.
The study, published in the journal Environment International, looked at more than 650,000 serious asthma attacks over a 15 year period. Emergency hospitalisations were compared across 26,000 urban neighbourhoods in England.
In the most polluted urban areas, trees had a particularly strong association with fewer emergency asthma cases. In relatively unpolluted urban neighbourhoods trees did not have the same impact.
In a typical urban area with a high level of background air pollution — for example, around 15 micrograms of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) per cubic metre, or a nitrogen dioxide concentration around 33 micrograms per cubic metre — an extra 300 trees per square kilometre was associated with around 50 fewer emergency asthma cases per 100,000 residents over the 15 year study period.
The findings could have important implications for planning and public health policy, and suggest that tree planting could play a role in reducing the effects of air pollution from cars.
Over 5.4 million people receive treatment for asthma in the UK with an annual cost to the NHS of around £1 billion. 18 per cent of adults report asthma in the previous 12 months, and a quarter of 13-14 year olds report symptoms. Asthma causes over a thousand deaths a year.
The study led by Dr Ian Alcock, research fellow at the University of Exeter’s Medical School, found that trees and green space were both related to a decrease in people admitted to hospital with asthma…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171117103814.htm

Citation:

Asthma attacks reduced in tree-lined urban neighborhoods
Date: November 17, 2017
Source: University of Exeter
Summary:
People living in polluted urban areas are far less likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma when there are lots of trees in their neighborhood, a new study has found.
Journal Reference:
1. Ian Alcock, Mathew White, Mark Cherrie, Benedict Wheeler, Jonathon Taylor, Rachel McInnes, Eveline Otte im Kampe, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Christophe Sarran, Ireneous Soyiri, Lora Fleming. Land cover and air pollution are associated with asthma hospitalisations: A cross-sectional study. Environment International, 2017; 109: 29 DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.08.009

Here is the press release from the University of Exeter:

Asthma attacks reduced in tree-lined urban neighbourhoods
People living in polluted urban areas are far less likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma when there are lots of trees in their neighbourhood, a study by the University of Exeter’s medical school has found.
The study into the impact of urban greenery on asthma suggests that respiratory health can be improved by the expansion of tree cover in very polluted urban neighbourhoods.
The study, published in the journal Environment International, looked at more than 650,000 serious asthma attacks over a 15 year period. Emergency hospitalisations were compared across 26,000 urban neighbourhoods in England.
In the most polluted urban areas, trees had a particularly strong association with fewer emergency asthma cases. In relatively unpolluted urban neighbourhoods trees did not have the same impact.
In a typical urban area with a high level of background air pollution – for example, around 15 micrograms of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) per cubic metre, or a nitrogen dioxide concentration around 33 micrograms per cubic metre – an extra 300 trees per square kilometre was associated with around 50 fewer emergency asthma cases per 100,000 residents over the 15 year study period.
The findings could have important implications for planning and public health policy, and suggest that tree planting could play a role in reducing the effects of air pollution from cars.
Over 5.4 million people receive treatment for asthma in the UK with an annual cost to the NHS of around £1 billion. 18 per cent of adults report asthma in the previous 12 months, and a quarter of 13-14 year olds report symptoms. Asthma causes over a thousand deaths a year.
The study led by Dr Ian Alcock, research fellow at the University of Exeter’s Medical School, found that trees and green space were both related to a decrease in people admitted to hospital with asthma.
Dr Alcock said:
“We wanted to clarify how urban vegetation may be related to respiratory health. We know that trees remove the air pollutants which can bring on asthma attacks, but in some situations they can also cause localised build-ups of particulates by preventing their dispersion by wind. And vegetation can also produce allergenic pollen which exacerbates asthma.
We found that on balance, urban vegetation appears to do significantly more good than harm. However, effects were not equal everywhere. Greenspace and gardens were associated with reductions in asthma hospitalisation at lower pollutant levels, but not in the most polluted urban areas. With trees it was the other way round. It may be that grass pollens become more allergenic when combined with air pollutants so that the benefits of greenspace diminish as pollution increases. In contrast, trees can effectively remove pollutants from the air, and this may explain why they appear to be most beneficial where concentrations are high.”
Co-author Dr Rachel McInnes, Senior Climate Impacts Scientist at the Met Office, added: “This finding that the effects of different types of vegetation – green space and gardens, and tree cover – differ at both very high and very low air pollution levels is particularly relevant for public health and urban planning policies. We also know that the interaction between pollen and air pollution, and the effect on health and asthma is highly complex and this study confirms that more research is required in this area. Large collaborative research projects, like this from the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Change and Health are a very effective way to carry out this type of cross-disciplinary work.”
Date: 17 November 2017 http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/university/title_622600_en.html

Pascal Mittermaier wrote in Why Plant Trees in Cities? Because They Protect Our Most Vulnerable Residents:

So how do we make cities cooler and healthier? Urban planners and public health officials are grappling with the best way to approach this issue. But there’s one solution we can implement now: plant more trees. Trees and other vegetation naturally cool the air around them by shading surfaces and releasing water vapor. While the effects are local—most of the improvement is within 100 meters—they can still be meaningful, reducing temperatures by up to 2°C.
Trees also provide another significant public health benefit: they reduce fine particulate matter air pollution, a problem that contributes to 5 percent of all deaths worldwide each year. Our organization, The Nature Conservancy, has carried out a study of 245 cities around the world that stand to benefit from tree-planting initiatives, assessing their efficiency and return on investment. Compared to other ways to cool outdoor air temperatures and reduce fine particle matter, trees deliver similar benefits per dollar spent—and, planting trees is the only intervention that addresses both air pollution and heat…. https://newcities.org/perspectives-why-plant-trees-in-cities-because-they-protect-our-most-vulnerable-residents/

One program which all residents of urban areas can participate is the planting of urban trees and encouraging public officials to expand and protect tree canopy.

Resources:

Asthma.com
http://www.asthma.com/additional-resources.html

Asthma Health Center
http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/asthma-support-resources

Asthma Resources
http://www.webmd.com/asthma/asthma-resources

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University of Melbourne and Aalborg University study: How convincing is a Y-chromosome profile match between suspect and crime scene? Study aims to improve the validity and intelligibility of Y-chromosome evidence presented in court

4 Nov

Sarah C. P. Williams wrote in the Science article, Y Chromosome Is More Than a Sex Switch:

The small, stumpy Y chromosome—possessed by male mammals but not females, and often shrugged off as doing little more than determining the sex of a developing fetus—may impact human biology in a big way. Two independent studies have concluded that the sex chromosome, which shrank millions of years ago, retains the handful of genes that it does not by chance, but because they are key to our survival. The findings may also explain differences in disease susceptibility between men and women.
“The old textbook description says that once maleness is determined by a few Y chromosome genes and you have gonads, all other sex differences stem from there,” says geneticist Andrew Clark of Cornell University, who was not involved in either study. “These papers open up the door to a much richer and more complex way to think about the Y chromosome….” http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/04/y-chromosome-more-sex-switch

See, National Institute of Standards and Technology study: Courtroom use of ‘Likelihood Ratio’ not consistently supported by scientific reasoning approach https://wordpress.com/posts/drwilda.com and More Innocent People on Death Row Than Estimated: Study http://time.com/79572/more-innocent-people-on-death-row-than-estimated-study/

Science Daily reported in How convincing is a Y-chromosome profile match between suspect and crime scene?

David Balding of the University of Melbourne, Australia and Mikkel Andersen of Aalborg University in Denmark have developed new, open-source software that can help understand how many people in a population will match a single Y-chromosome profile detected at a crime scene, which they describe in a new study in PLOS Genetics.
Forensic analysis of Y-chromosome DNA is especially useful when a small amount of male DNA is mixed in with a large amount of female DNA, such as occurs in sexual assault cases. Explaining this evidence in court, however, is difficult because the Y chromosome passes down mostly unchanged from fathers to sons, so a single Y-chromosome profile can be shared by dozens of men in a population.
Instead of a match probability or database count, Balding and Andersen propose that courts be told about the likely number of matching males in the population, and the possible consequences of their relatedness, which is often more distant than uncle or cousin but much closer than for a random man. They also show how the distribution of matching males can be affected by database information, and suggest ways to present this information in court to make clear that Y-chromosome evidence cannot definitively identify the culprit, but can dramatically reduce the number of possible sources of the DNA. The court must then decide if it has enough other evidence to identify the suspect as the source of the Y-chromosome profile, rather than one of his matching (distant) relatives.
After the introduction of DNA profiling using non-sex chromosomes, the procedure had problems that, once addressed, made profiling a powerful tool that has revolutionized forensic science. Now, Y chromosome profiling must undergo the same process to quantify the results in a way that is valid and directly interpretable to courts. The new software presented in this study could be used to improve the accuracy of Y chromosome evidence and to increase its understanding by judges and jurors…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171103142725.htm

Citation:

How convincing is a Y-chromosome profile match between suspect and crime scene?
Study aims to improve the validity and intelligibility of Y-chromosome evidence presented in court
Date: November 3, 2017
Source: PLOS
Summary:
Scientists have developed new, open-source software that can help understand how many people in a population will match a single Y-chromosome profile detected at a crime scene.
Journal Reference:
1. Mikkel M. Andersen, David J. Balding. How convincing is a matching Y-chromosome profile? PLOS Genetics, 2017; 13 (11): e1007028 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007028

Here is the press release:

Public Release: 3-Nov-2017
How convincing is a Y-chromosome profile match between suspect and crime scene?
Study aims to improve the validity and intelligibility of Y-chromosome evidence presented in court
PLOS
David Balding of the University of Melbourne, Australia and Mikkel Andersen of Aalborg University in Denmark have developed new, open-source software that can help understand how many people in a population will match a single Y-chromosome profile detected at a crime scene, which they describe in a new study in PLOS Genetics.
Forensic analysis of Y-chromosome DNA is especially useful when a small amount of male DNA is mixed in with a large amount of female DNA, such as occurs in sexual assault cases. Explaining this evidence in court, however, is difficult because the Y chromosome passes down mostly unchanged from fathers to sons, so a single Y-chromosome profile can be shared by dozens of men in a population.
Instead of a match probability or database count, Balding and Andersen propose that courts be told about the likely number of matching males in the population, and the possible consequences of their relatedness, which is often more distant than uncle or cousin but much closer than for a random man. They also show how the distribution of matching males can be affected by database information, and suggest ways to present this information in court to make clear that Y-chromosome evidence cannot definitively identify the culprit, but can dramatically reduce the number of possible sources of the DNA. The court must then decide if it has enough other evidence to identify the suspect as the source of the Y-chromosome profile, rather than one of his matching (distant) relatives.
After the introduction of DNA profiling using non-sex chromosomes, the procedure had problems that, once addressed, made profiling a powerful tool that has revolutionized forensic science. Now, Y chromosome profiling must undergo the same process to quantify the results in a way that is valid and directly interpretable to courts. The new software presented in this study could be used to improve the accuracy of Y chromosome evidence and to increase its understanding by judges and jurors.
David Balding adds: “We think this work is going to make a big improvement to how Y profile evidence is presented in courts. We will soon extend this work to mixtures of Y-chromosome profiles from multiple males, and also address the corresponding problem for the maternally-inherited mtDNA profiles. Our approach also allows us to include information from any relatives of the suspect whose profile is already available, and we will be working to develop that aspect.”
###
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Genetics:
http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1007028
Citation: Andersen MM, Balding DJ (2017) How convincing is a matching Y-chromosome profile? PLoS Genet 13(11): e1007028. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1007028
Image Credit: Mikkel Andersen
Image Caption: A simplified illustration of a simulated population of males, with lines indicating father-son links. The suspected source of the DNA, whose profile matches that from the crime scene, is shown in red and other males with matching Y profiles, who are often close relatives, are yellow. The dashed line separates the last three generations, those further back in time will typically be already dead or otherwise unlikely to be of interest (depending on the circumstances of the crime).
Funding: The authors wish to thank the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge UK, for support and hospitality during the programme Probability and Statistics in Forensic Science, where this paper was conceived. The programme was supported by EPSRC grant no EP/K032208/1. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-11/p-hci103117.php

Mathew Shaer wrote in the The False Promise of DNA Testing: The forensic technique is becoming ever more common—and ever less reliable.:

Modern forensic science is in the midst of a great reckoning. Since a series of high-profile legal challenges in the 1990s increased scrutiny of forensic evidence, a range of long-standing crime-lab methods have been deflated or outright debunked. Bite-mark analysis—a kind of dental fingerprinting that dates back to the Salem witch trials—is now widely considered unreliable; the “uniqueness and reproducibility” of ballistics testing has been called into question by the National Research Council. In 2004, the FBI was forced to issue an apology after it incorrectly connected an Oregon attorney named Brandon Mayfield to that spring’s train bombings in Madrid, on the basis of a “100 percent” match to partial fingerprints found on plastic bags containing detonator devices. Last year, the bureau admitted that it had reviewed testimony by its microscopic-hair-comparison analysts and found errors in at least 90 percent of the cases. A thorough investigation is now under way…. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/a-reasonable-doubt/480747/

The reliability of the evidence and the ability of a particular accused to defend against evidence presented in a court hearing is crucial to preventing the innocent from being convicted.

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University of Washington study: For $1000, anyone can purchase online ads to track your location and app use

19 Oct

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Tolstoy may not have been specifically talking about domestic violence, but each situation is unique. There is a specific story and specific journey for each victim, each couple, and each abuser. There is no predicted endpoint for domestic violence; each situation will have its own outcome.

Headlines regularly detail incidents of domestic violence involving sports figures and other prominent people. Domestic Violence is a societal problem. According to Safe Horizon:

The Victims
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner….. http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-52.html

Abusers come in all races, classes, genders, religions and creeds.

Andy Greenberg reported in the Wired article, It Takes Just $1,000 to Track Someone’s Location With Mobile Ads:

When you consider the nagging privacy risks of online advertising, you may find comfort in the thought of a vast, abstract company like Pepsi or Nike viewing you as just one data point among millions. What, after all, do you have to hide from Pepsi? And why should that corporate megalith care about your secrets out of countless potential Pepsi drinkers? But an upcoming study has dissipated that delusion. It shows that ad-targeting can not only track you at the personal, individual level but also that it doesn’t take a corporation’s resources to seize upon that surveillance tool—just time, determination, and about a thousand dollars.
A team of security-focused researchers from the University of Washington has demonstrated just how deeply even someone with modest resources can exploit mobile advertising networks. An advertising-savvy spy, they’ve shown, can spend just a grand to track a target’s location with disturbing precision, learn details about them like their demographics and what apps they have installed on their phone, or correlate that information to make even more sensitive discoveries—say, that a certain twentysomething man has a gay dating app installed on his phone and lives at a certain address, that someone sitting next to the spy at a Starbucks took a certain route after leaving the coffee shop, or that a spy’s spouse has visited a particular friend’s home or business… https://www.wired.com/story/track-location-with-mobile-ads-1000-dollars-study/

Tracking a partner’s movements is one element of control in an abusive relationship.

Rachael Williams wrote in the Guardian article, Spyware and smartphones: how abusive men track their partners:

New technology is being developed so quickly, and social media pervades so many aspects of our lives, that it is hard to stay ahead, says Jennifer Perry, the chief executive of the Digital Trust, which supports victims of digital abuse. In fact, spyware, she reckons, is “yesterday’s technology” for tracking victims: “The easiest thing is to access the woman in the cloud. A man might buy a phone and set it up for his partner to be ‘helpful’. He knows the username and password. You have women who don’t even realise they have a cloud account in their smartphone.
“There is also an app you can buy that mirrors the phone on to a PC. The man can just sit at his computer and watch everything that happens on the phone.”
The technology is cheap and accessible, she says. And evading it is often not as simple as just turning the phone off. Perry usually advises women to take their sim card out, leave the phone with a friend until it can be cleaned, and use a cheap pay-as-you-go device in the meantime. But if her ex-partner owns the phone, it will never be safe.
Cloud storage is particularly problematic because it is linked to laptops and PCs, which, unlike phones, can have spyware installed on them remotely via email. “You often find that a woman had spyware put on to her computer remotely, so even if she changes the username and password for the cloud on her phone, the abuser can see that on the computer and get back in,” Perry says.
Perpetrators don’t just use this technology to find out where an escaping partner has gone; it is another tool for abuse when they’re together, too. “They will use the information to belittle or threaten the woman,” says Clare Laxton, public policy manager at Women’s Aid. “They’ll say: ‘Why were you at this restaurant? You’re cheating on me, I’m going to kill myself.’ It closes down that woman’s space, so she won’t want to go out and socialise, because she knows the abuse she’ll get when she gets home isn’t worth it. It’s all part of controlling her as much as possible….” https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/25/spyware-smartphone-abusive-men-track-partners-domestic-violence

Science Daily reported about privacy concerns:

Privacy concerns have long swirled around how much information online advertising networks collect about people’s browsing, buying and social media habits — typically to sell you something.
But could someone use mobile advertising to learn where you go for coffee? Could a burglar establish a sham company and send ads to your phone to learn when you leave the house? Could a suspicious employer see if you’re using shopping apps on work time?
The answer is yes, at least in theory. New University of Washington research, which will be presented Oct. 30 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, suggests that for roughly $1,000, someone with devious intent can purchase and target online advertising in ways that allow them to track the location of other individuals and learn what apps they are using….

Citation:

For $1000, anyone can purchase online ads to track your location and app use
Date: October 18, 2017
Source: University of Washington
Summary:
New research finds that for a budget of roughly $1000, it is possible for someone to track your location and app use by purchasing and targeting mobile ads. The team hopes to raise industry awareness about the potential privacy threat. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171018124131.htm

Here is the press release from the University of Washington:

October 18, 2017

For $1000, anyone can purchase online ads to track your location and app use
Jennifer Langston

UW News

New University of Washington research finds that for a budget of roughly $1000, it is possible for someone to track your location and app use by purchasing and targeting mobile ads. The team aims to raise industry awareness about the potential privacy threat.

Privacy concerns have long swirled around how much information online advertising networks collect about people’s browsing, buying and social media habits — typically to sell you something.

But could someone use mobile advertising to learn where you go for coffee? Could a burglar establish a sham company and send ads to your phone to learn when you leave the house? Could a suspicious employer see if you’re using shopping apps on work time?

The answer is yes, at least in theory. New University of Washington research, to be presented in a paper Oct. 30 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, suggests that for roughly $1,000, someone with devious intent can purchase and target online advertising in ways that allow them to track the location of other individuals and learn what apps they are using.
“Anyone from a foreign intelligence agent to a jealous spouse can pretty easily sign up with a large internet advertising company and on a fairly modest budget use these ecosystems to track another individual’s behavior,” said lead author Paul Vines, a recent doctoral graduate in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

The research team set out to test whether an adversary could exploit the existing online advertising infrastructure for personal surveillance and, if so, raise industry awareness about the threat.

“Because it was so easy to do what we did, we believe this is an issue that the online advertising industry needs to be thinking about,” said co-author Franzi Roesner, co-director of the UW Security and Privacy Research Lab and an assistant professor in the Allen School. “We are sharing our discoveries so that advertising networks can try to detect and mitigate these types of attacks, and so that there can be a broad public discussion about how we as a society might try to prevent them.”

This map represents an individual’s morning commute. Red dots reflect the places where the UW computer security researchers were able to track that person’s movements by serving location-based ads: at home (real location not shown), a coffee shop, bus stop and office. The team found that a target needed to stay in one location for roughly four minutes before an ad was served, which is why no red dots appear along the individual’s bus commute (dashed line) or walking route (solid line.)University of Washington

The researchers discovered that an individual ad purchaser can, under certain circumstances, see when a person visits a predetermined sensitive location — a suspected rendezvous spot for an affair, the office of a company that a venture capitalist might be interested in or a hospital where someone might be receiving treatment — within 10 minutes of that person’s arrival. They were also able to track a person’s movements across the city during a morning commute by serving location-based ads to the target’s phone.

The team also discovered that individuals who purchase the ads could see what types of apps their target was using. That could potentially divulge information about the person’s interests, dating habits, religious affiliations, health conditions, political leanings and other potentially sensitive or private information.
Someone who wants to surveil a person’s movements first needs to learn the mobile advertising ID (MAID) for the target’s mobile phone. These unique identifiers that help marketers serve ads tailored to a person’s interests are sent to the advertiser and a number of other parties whenever a person clicks on a mobile ad. A person’s MAID also could be obtained by eavesdropping on an unsecured wireless network the person is using or by gaining temporary access to his or her WiFi router.
The UW team demonstrated that customers of advertising services can purchase a number of hyperlocal ads through that service, which will only be served to that particular phone when its owner opens an app in a particular spot. By setting up a grid of these location-based ads, the adversary can track the target’s movements if he or she has opened an app and remains in a location long enough for an ad to be served — typically about four minutes, the team found.
Importantly, the target does not have to click on or engage with the ad — the purchaser can see where ads are being served and use that information to track the target through space. In the team’s experiments, they were able to pinpoint a person’s location within about 8 meters.

“To be very honest, I was shocked at how effective this was,” said co-author Tadayoshi Kohno, an Allen School professor who has studied security vulnerabilities in products ranging from automobiles to medical devices. “We did this research to better understand the privacy risks with online advertising. There’s a fundamental tension that as advertisers become more capable of targeting and tracking people to deliver better ads, there’s also the opportunity for adversaries to begin exploiting that additional precision. It is important to understand both the benefits and risks with technologies.”

An individual could potentially disrupt the simple types of location-based attacks that the UW team demonstrated by frequently resetting the mobile advertising IDs in their phones — a feature that many smartphones now offer. Disabling location tracking within individual app settings could help, the researchers said, but advertisers still may be capable of harvesting location data in other ways.
On the industry side, mobile and online advertisers could help thwart these types of attacks by rejecting ad buys that target only a small number of devices or individuals, the researchers said. They also could develop and deploy machine learning tools to distinguish between normal advertising patterns and suspicious advertising behavior that looks more like personal surveillance.
The UW Security and Privacy Research Lab is a leader in evaluating potential security threats in emerging technologies, including telematics in automobiles, web browsers, DNA sequencing software and augmented reality, before they can be exploited by bad actors.

Next steps for the team include working with experts at the UW’s Tech Policy Lab to explore the legal and policy questions raised by this new form of potential intelligence gathering.

The research was funded by The National Science Foundation, The Tech Policy Lab and the Short-Dooley Professorship.

For more information, contact the research team at adint@cs.washington.edu.
Grant number: NSF: CNS-1463968

Resources:

Cell Phone Location Tracking Laws By State https://www.aclu.org/issues/privacy-technology/location-tracking/cell-phone-location-tracking-laws-state

Mobile Phone Safety for a Domestic Abuse Victim http://www.getdomesticviolencehelp.com/domestic-abuse-victim.html

Smartphones Are Used To Stalk, Control Domestic Abuse Victims http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2014/09/15/346149979/smartphones-are-used-to-stalk-control-domestic-abuse-victims

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