Tag Archives: University of Texas

University of Texas study: Researchers link childhood hunger, violence later in life

26 Jun

For a really good discussion of the effects of poverty on children, read the American Psychological Association (APA), Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth:

What are the effects of child poverty?
• Psychological research has demonstrated that living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our nation’s children.
• Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities.
• Poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and underresourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.
• Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.
• These effects are compounded by the barriers children and their families encounter when trying to access physical and mental health care.
• Economists estimate that child poverty costs the U.S. $500 billion a year in lost productivity in the work force and spending on health care and the criminal justice system.
Poverty and academic achievement
• Poverty has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood.
• Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn.
• School drop out rates are significantly higher for teens residing in poorer communities. In 2007, the dropout rate of students living in low-income families was about 10 times greater than the rate of their peers from high-income families (8.8% vs. 0.9%).
• The academic achievement gap for poorer youth is particularly pronounced for low-income African American and Hispanic children compared with their more affluent White peers.
• Underresourced schools in poorer communities struggle to meet the learning needs of their students and aid them in fulfilling their potential.
• Inadequate education contributes to the cycle of poverty by making it more difficult for low-income children to lift themselves and future generations out of poverty. http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx

Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of society’s problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family.

Science Daily reported in Researchers link childhood hunger, violence later in life:

Children who often go hungry have a greater risk of developing impulse control problems and engaging in violence, according to new UT Dallas research.

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that people who experienced frequent hunger as kids were more than twice as likely to exhibit impulsivity and injure others intentionally as adolescents and adults.

Thirty-seven percent of the study’s participants who had frequent hunger as children reported that they had been involved in interpersonal violence. Of those who experienced little to no childhood hunger, 15 percent said they were involved in interpersonal violence. The findings were strongest among whites, Hispanics and males.

Previous research has shown that childhood hunger contributes to a variety of other negative outcomes, including poor academic performance. The study is among the first to find a correlation between childhood hunger, low self-control and interpersonal violence….

Researchers used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to examine the relationship between childhood hunger, impulsivity and interpersonal violence. Participants in that study responded to a variety of questions including how often they went hungry as a child, whether they have problems controlling their temper, and if they had physically injured another person on purpose.

More than 15 million U.S. children face food insecurity — not having regular access to adequate nutrition, according to the study. Piquero said the results highlight the importance of addressing communities known as food deserts that have little access to grocery stores with healthy food choices.

The findings suggest that strategies aimed at alleviating hunger may also help reduce violence, Piquero said….                                                                                                                                                                  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160620161140.htm

Citation:

Researchers link childhood hunger, violence later in life

Date:         June 20, 2016

Source:     University of Texas at Dallas

Summary:

Children who often go hungry have a greater risk of developing impulse control problems and engaging in violence, according to new research.

Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Vaughn, Christopher Salas-Wright, Sandra Naeger, Jin Huang, Alex Piquero. Childhood Reports of Food Neglect and Impulse Control Problems and Violence in Adulthood. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2016; 13 (4): 389 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph13040389

There are some very good reasons why meals are provided at schools. Education Bug has a history of the school lunch program

President Harry S. Truman began the national school lunch program in 1946 as a measure of national security. He did so after reading a study that revealed many young men had been rejected from the World War II draft due to medical conditions caused by childhood malnutrition. Since that time more than 180 million lunches have been served to American children who attend either a public school or a non-profit private school.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson extended the program by offering breakfast to school children. It began as a two years pilot program for children in rural areas and those living in poorer neighborhoods. It was believed that these children would have to skip breakfast in order to catch the bus for the long ride to school. There were also concerns that the poorer families could not always afford to feed their children breakfast. Johnson believed, like many of us today, that children would do better in school if they had a good breakfast to start their day. The pilot was such a success that it was decided the program should continue. By 1975, breakfast was being offered to all children in public or non-profit private school. This change was made because educators felt that more children were skipping breakfast due to both parent being in the workforce.

In 1968, a summer meals program was offered to low income children. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks are still available to students each year, during the summer break. Any child in need can apply for the program at the end of the school year. Parents that are interested in the summer meals program should contact their local school administration.

Since its inception, the school lunch/meals programs have become available in more than 98,800 schools…. http://www.educationbug.org/a/the-history-of-the-school-lunch-program.html

Hungry children have more difficulty in focusing and paying attention, their ability to learn is impacted. President Truman saw feeding hungry children as a key part of the national defense. For many children who receive a free breakfast and/or a free lunch that means that they will not go hungry that day.

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University of Texas Health Sciences study: Children born with cleft lip or palate and spina bifida are at an increased risk for abuse

11 Dec

The American Psychological Association lists the reasons children are abused in Why Do Adults Hurt Children?

It takes a lot to care for a child. A child needs food, clothing and shelter as well as love and attention. Parents and caregivers want to provide all those things, but they have other pressures, too. Sometimes adults just can’t provide everything their children need.

Adults may not intend to hurt the children they care for. But sometimes adults lose control, and sometimes they hurt children.

Adults may hurt children because they:

  • Lose their tempers when they think about their own problems.

  • Don’t know how to discipline a child.

  • Expect behavior that is unrealistic for a child’s age or ability.

  • Have been abused by a parent or a partner.

  • Have financial problems.

  • Lose control when they use alcohol or other drugs….                                                                       http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/abuse.aspx

A University of Texas Health Sciences study concludes that children born with cleft lip or palate and spina bifida are at an increased risk for abuse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes what a cleft lip or palate are:

What is Cleft Lip?

The lip forms between the fourth and seventh weeks of pregnancy. As a baby develops during pregnancy, body tissue and special cells from each side of the head grow toward the center of the face and join together to make the face. This joining of tissue forms the facial features, like the lips and mouth. A cleft lip happens if the tissue that makes up the lip does not join completely before birth. This results in an opening in the upper lip. The opening in the lip can be a small slit or it can be a large opening that goes through the lip into the nose. A cleft lip can be on one or both sides of the lip or in the middle of the lip, which occurs very rarely. Children with a cleft lip also can have a cleft palate.

What is Cleft Palate?

The roof of the mouth (palate) is formed between the sixth and ninth weeks of pregnancy. A cleft palate happens if the tissue that makes up the roof of the mouth does not join together completely during pregnancy. For some babies, both the front and back parts of the palate are open. For other babies, only part of the palate is open.

Other Problems

Children with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate or a cleft palate alone often have problems with feeding and speaking clearly and can have ear infections. They also might have hearing problems and problems with their teeth….                                                                                                   http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/CleftLip.html

Another group of children at high risk of abuse are those with spina bifida. The Mayo Clinic describes spina bifida:

Spina bifida is part of a group of birth defects called neural tube defects. The neural tube is the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them.

Normally, the neural tube forms early in the pregnancy and closes by the 28th day after conception. In babies with spina bifida, a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, causing defects in the spinal cord and in the bones of the spine.

Spina bifida occurs in various forms of severity. When treatment for spina bifida is necessary, it’s done surgically, although such treatment doesn’t always completely resolve the problem….                   http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spina-bifida/basics/definition/CON-20035356

Children with a medical condition are vulnerable to abuse.

Alyson Sulaski Wyckoff , Associate Editor of AAP wrote in Maltreatment of child under 2 more likely if certain birth defects present:

Children younger than 2 years were more likely to be maltreated if they had spina bifida or cleft lip/palate than if they had Down syndrome, according to a population-based study of 3 million children born in Texas from 2002-’09.

Birth defects occur in one in 33 U.S. births, and children with disabilities face an increased risk for maltreatment and out-of-home placement. It is not known how the risk might vary by type of birth defect.

The study was conducted to assess whether the risks and predictors of maltreatment vary by three types of birth defects: Down syndrome (intellectual impairment), cleft lip with or without cleft palate (facial malformation and speech impairment) and spina bifida (physical disability). Children with these disabilities were compared to an unaffected group.

The risk of any type of maltreatment was significantly higher for children with spina bifida and cleft lip/palate, an increase of 58% and 40%, respectively, even after adjusting for child-, family-, and neighborhood-level factors. Children with Down syndrome, however, were not at increased risk of maltreatment before age 2.

The study also found that children with birth defects are at risk for different types of maltreatment than other children. The risk of medical neglect was three to six times higher in the three birth defects groups compared with the unaffected group, which may be related to the medical complexity of the children’s conditions.

Maltreated children tended to be males and those born prematurely. Parents were the most frequent perpetrators, especially those living in poverty.

The risk of maltreatment was elevated for children whose mothers were young, white non-Hispanic, unmarried and who did not indicated paternity information on birth certificates. They were more likely to have a high school education or less, to have given birth previously and to have had the birth covered by Medicaid.

Future studies could inform policies and services aimed at improving outcomes of at-risk families by targeting populations with the highest risk for maltreatment, the authors noted.

Children with developmental delays, including those with the birth defects examined in this study, qualify for early childhood intervention services (Part C) under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, but many qualifying children do not receive these services, the study points out….                                                                                                                                                   http://www.aappublications.org/news/2015/12/01/Maltreatment120115

Citation:

Children with specific birth defects at increased risk for abuse

Date:           December 10, 2015

Source:       University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Summary:

Children born with cleft lip or palate and spina bifida are at an increased risk for abuse before the age of two, according to researchers. The researchers found that compared to children without birth defects the risk of maltreatment in children with cleft lip and/or palate was increased by 40 percent and for children with spina bifida, the risk was increased by 58 percent.

Journal Reference:

  1. B. S. Van Horne, K. B. Moffitt, M. A. Canfield, A. P. Case, C. S. Greeley, R. Morgan, L. E. Mitchell. Maltreatment of Children Under Age 2 With Specific Birth Defects: A Population-Based Study. PEDIATRICS, 2015; 136 (6): e1504 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-1274                                  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151210140510.htm

Here is the press release from UT Health Sciences:

Public Release: 10-Dec-2015

UTHeath study: Children with specific birth defects at increased risk for abuse

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

HOUSTON – (Dec. 10, 2015) – Children born with cleft lip or palate and spina bifida are at an increased risk for abuse before the age of 2, according to researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).The results were published in the December issue of the journal Pediatrics.

In the study, researchers found that compared to children without birth defects the risk of maltreatment in children with cleft lip and/or palate was increased by 40 percent and for children with spina bifida, the risk was increased by 58 percent. These rates were especially high during the first year of life. However, children with Down syndrome were not at an increased risk compared to children with no birth defects.

“A baby with Down syndrome develops just like any other baby unless they have another congenital defect. When they start missing developmental milestones is when the intellectual impairments associated with Down syndrome become more apparent. Additionally, they typically do not have the same level of medical complexity as babies with cleft lip with or without cleft palate and spina bifida, who likely have a lot of medical needs and complications. If you’ve just given birth and have to deal with a lot more complexity and care, it’s hard,” said Bethanie Van Horne, Dr.P.H., assistant director of state initiatives at UTHealth’s Children’s Learning Institute. Van Horne conducted the study as part of her dissertation at UTHealth School of Public Health.

Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that occur when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. A baby can have a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both a cleft lip and cleft palate. Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that affects the spine and is usually apparent at birth. Children with spina bifida have physical impairments ranging from mild to severe depending where on the spine the opening is located.

The researchers drew data from several sources from 2002 to 2011: birth and death records from the Texas Department of State Health Services Vital Statistics Unit, surveillance of children born with birth defects from the Texas Birth Defects Registry and child maltreatment information from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

In Texas, maltreatment is defined as neglectful supervision, physical abuse, physical neglect, medical neglect, sexual abuse, abandonment, emotional abuse or refusal to assume parental responsibility.

Among children with substantiated abuse, the risk of medical neglect was three to six times higher among all three birth defect groups than in the unaffected group. The complexity of their medical conditions may be a contributing factor for the increased risk of medical neglect versus other forms of neglect, according to Van Horne.

Researchers also studied how family factors affected risk of abuse. Children were more likely to be abused or neglected if their mothers had less than a high school education, had more children and used Medicaid. This was true even if a child did not have a birth defect. Van Horne said that poverty was likely the main factor in this finding.

“Physicians and medical personnel have to understand that the risk for abuse varies by specific disability. In general, when children are born with medical complexities like a birth defect, we need to be really supportive of those families. If we can identify them early and start services, we can help them understand what’s to come. A lot of providers do this, but we can do more,” said Van Horne.

###

Karen B. Moffitt, M.P.H., Mark A. Canfield, Ph.D., and Amy P. Case, Ph.D., from the Birth Defects Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch of the Texas Department of State Health Services were study co-authors, as was Christopher Greeley, M.D., a former faculty member at UTHealth, who is now with Texas Children’s Hospital. Co-authors from the School of Public Health included Robert Morgan, Ph.D., and Laura E. Mitchell, Ph.D.

The study, titled ‘Maltreatment of Children under Age 2 with Specific Birth Defects: A Population-Based Study,’ was funded through a cooperative agreement (#5U01DD000494-04) between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services, as well as through funding from the Title V Block Grant at the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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.                   http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-12/uoth-usc121015.php

Stepparents and Abuse

It is difficult to find statistics on abuse by step-parents, but one study out of Sweden, Step-parents abuse children to death more often provide some food for thought.

258 children under the age of 16 were killed by their parents between 1965 and 1999. 23 of the children (9%) were abused to death. Stepchildren are more often killed by abuse than children who are killed by their biological parents, according to new research from the University of Stockholm. More than half of the 258 children were killed in connection with a conflict between the parents e.g. divorce or custody battle. Most of these children died in connection with the extended suicide where the perpetrator took or tried to take his own life. The men who murdered their children also often took the life of their partner. On the other hand, no woman tried to kill their partner when she murdered the children, writes senior lecturer Hans Temrin and PhD student Johanna Nordlund at The University of Stockholm.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has statistics about infanticide but it is difficult to determine specific abuse by step-parents because of the reporting.

Note: Parents includes stepparents.

Of all children under age 5 murdered from 1976-2005 —

  • 31% were killed by fathers

  • 29% were killed by mothers

  • 23% were killed by male acquaintances

  • 7% were killed by other relatives

  • 3% were killed by strangers

Of those children killed by someone other than their parent, 81% were killed by males.

How to Spot Signs of Abuse

Child Information Welfare Gateway has an excellent guide for how to spot child abuse and neglect The full list of symptoms is at the site, but some key indicators are:

                         The Child:

Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance

Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention

Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes

Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen

Lacks adult supervision

Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn

Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home

The Parent:

Shows little concern for the child

Denies the existence of—or blames the child for—the child’s problems in school or at home

Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves

Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome

Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve

Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs

The Parent and Child:

Rarely touch or look at each other

Consider their relationship entirely negative

State that they do not like each other                                                                                                                  https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/whatiscan.pdf#page=5&view=Recognizing%20Signs%20of%20Abuse%20and%20Neglect

If people suspect a child is being abused, they must get involved. Every Child Matters can very useful and can be found at http://www.everychildmatters.org/ and another organization, which fights child abuse is the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform http://nccpr.info/   People must push for tougher standards against child abuse.

Many Single Parents are not Going to Like these Comments

Queen Victoria had it right when she was rumored to have said something to the effect that she did not care what two consenting single adults did as long as they did not do it in the streets and scare the horses. A consenting single parent does not have the same amount of leeway as a consenting childless single adult because the primary responsibility of any parent is raising their child or children. People have children for a variety of reasons from having an unplanned pregnancy because of irresponsibility or hoping that the pregnancy is the glue, which might save a failing relationship, to those who genuinely want to be parents. Still, being a parent is like the sign in the china shop, which says you break it, it’s yours. Well folks, you had children, they are yours. Somebody has to be the adult and be responsible for not only their care and feeding, but their values. I don’t care if he looks like Brad Pitt or Denzel Washington. I don’t care if she looks like Angelina Jolie or Halle Berry or they have as much money as Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, if they don’t like children or your children, they have to be kicked to the curb. You cannot under any circumstances allow anyone to abuse your children or you. When you partner with a parent, you must be willing to fully accept their children. If you can’t and they are too gutless to tell you to hit the road, I’ll do it for them. Hit the road.

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

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University of Texas Center for Brain Health study: The brains of risk-taking teens are different

17 Aug

We live in a society with few personal controls and even fewer people recognize boundaries which should govern their behavior and how they treat others. Many parents want tips about how to talk with their kids about risky behaviors and whether they should spy on their children.
Perhaps the best advice comes from Carleton Kendrick in the Family Education article, Spying on Kids

Staying connected
So how do you make sure your teens are on the straight and narrow? You can’t. And don’t think you can forbid them to experiment with risky behavior. That’s what they’re good at during this stage, along with testing your limits. You can help them stay healthy, safe, and secure by doing the following:
• Keep communicating with your teens, even if they don’t seem to be listening. Talk about topics that interest them.
• Respect and ask their opinions.
• Give them privacy. That doesn’t mean you can’t knock on their door when you want to talk.
• Set limits on their behavior based on your values and principles. They will grudgingly respect you for this.
• Continually tell them and show them you believe in who they are rather than what they accomplish.
• Seek professional help if your teen’s abnormal behaviors last more than three weeks.
A 1997 landmark adolescent health study, which interviewed over 12,000 teenagers, concluded that the single greatest protection against high-risk teenage behavior, like substance abuse and suicide, is a strong emotional connection to a parent. Tough as it may be, you should always try to connect with them. And leave the spying to James Bond. It will only drive away the children you wish to bring closer.

In truth, a close relationship with your child will probably be more effective than spying. Put down that Blackberry, iPhone, and Droid and try connecting with your child. You should not only know who your children’s friends are, but you should know the parents of your children’s friends. Many parents have the house where all the kids hang out because they want to know what is going on with their kids. Often parents volunteer to chauffeur kids because that gives them the opportunity to listen to what kids are talking about. It is important to know the values of the families of your kid’s friends. Do they furnish liquor to underage kids, for example? How do they feel about teen sex and is their house the place where kids meet for sex? Lisa Frederiksen has written the excellent article, 10 Tips for Talking to Teens About Sex, Drugs & Alcohol http://www.drugfree.org/10-tips-for-talking-to-teens-about-sex-drugs-alcohol/ which was posted at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids http://www.drugfree.org/
According to a Center for Brain Health study, some teens are more prone to risky behavior than others because of differences in their brains.

Science Digest reported in the article, Brain imaging shows brain differences in risk-taking teens:

According to the CDC, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for adolescents. Compared to the two leading causes of death for all Americans, heart disease and cancer, a pattern of questionable decision-making in dire situations comes to light in teen mortality. New research from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas investigating brain differences associated with risk-taking teens found that connections between certain brain regions are amplified in teens more prone to risk.
“Our brains have an emotional-regulation network that exists to govern emotions and influence decision-making,” explained the study’s lead author, Sam Dewitt. “Antisocial or risk-seeking behavior may be associated with an imbalance in this network.”
The study, published June 30 in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, looked at 36 adolescents ages 12-17; eighteen risk-taking teens were age- and sex-matched to a group of 18 non-risk-taking teens. Participants were screened for risk-taking behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity, and physical violence and underwent functional MRI (fMRI) scans to examine communication between brain regions associated with the emotional-regulation network. Interestingly, the risk-taking group showed significantly lower income compared to the non-risk taking group.
“Most fMRI scans used to be done in conjunction with a particular visual task. In the past several years, however, it has been shown that performing an fMRI scan of the brain during a ‘mind-wandering’ state is just as valuable,”said Sina Aslan, Ph.D., President of Advance MRI and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.”In this case, brain regions associated with emotion and reward centers show increased connection even when they are not explicitly engaged.”
The study, conducted by Francesca Filbey, Ph.D., Director of Cognitive Neuroscience Research of Addictive Behaviors at the Center for BrainHealth and her colleagues, shows that risk-taking teens exhibit hyperconnectivity between the amygdala, a center responsible for emotional reactivity, and specific areas of the prefrontal cortex associated with emotion regulation and critical thinking skills. The researchers also found increased activity between areas of the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens, a center for reward sensitivity that is often implicated in addiction research….
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140815102326.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29&utm_content=FaceBook

Citation:

Brain imaging shows brain differences in risk-taking teens
Date: August 15, 2014

Source: Center for BrainHealth
Summary:
Brain differences associated with risk-taking teens have been investigated by researchers who found that connections between certain brain regions are amplified in teens more prone to risk. “Our brains have an emotional-regulation network that exists to govern emotions and influence decision-making,” explained the study’s lead author. “Antisocial or risk-seeking behavior may be associated with an imbalance in this network.”
Here is the blog post from the Center for Brain Health:
Study: Brain imaging shows brain differences in risk-taking teens
By: The Center for BrainHealth
Thursday, August 14, 2014
According to the CDC, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for adolescents. Compared to the two leading causes of death for all Americans, heart disease and cancer, a pattern of questionable decision-making in dire situations comes to light in teen mortality. New research from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas investigating brain differences associated with risk-taking teens found that connections between certain brain regions are amplified in teens more prone to risk.
“Our brains have an emotional-regulation network that exists to govern emotions and influence decision-making,” explained the study’s lead author, Sam Dewitt. “Antisocial or risk-seeking behavior may be associated with an imbalance in this network.”
The study, published June 30 in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, looked at 36 adolescents ages 12-17; eighteen risk-taking teens were age- and sex-matched to a group of 18 non-risk-taking teens. Participants were screened for risk-taking behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity, and physical violence and underwent functional MRI (fMRI) scans to examine communication between brain regions associated with the emotional-regulation network. Interestingly, the risk-taking group showed significantly lower income compared to the non-risk taking group.
“Most fMRI scans used to be done in conjunction with a particular visual task. In the past several years, however, it has been shown that performing an fMRI scan of the brain during a ‘mind-wandering’ state is just as valuable,”said Sina Aslan, Ph.D., President of Advance MRI and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.“In this case, brain regions associated with emotion and reward centers show increased connection even when they are not explicitly engaged.”
The study, conducted by Francesca Filbey, Ph.D., Director of Cognitive Neuroscience Research of Addictive Behaviors at the Center for BrainHealth and her colleagues, shows that risk-taking teens exhibit hyperconnectivity between the amygdala, a center responsible for emotional reactivity, and specific areas of the prefrontal cortex associated with emotion regulation and critical thinking skills. The researchers also found increased activity between areas of the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens, a center for reward sensitivity that is often implicated in addiction research.
“Our findings are crucial in that they help identify potential brain biomarkers that, when taken into context with behavioral differences, may help identify which adolescents are at risk for dangerous and pathological behaviors in the future,” Dewitt explained.
He also points out that even though the risk-taking group did partake in risky behavior, none met clinical criteria for behavioral or substance use disorders.
By identifying these factors early on, the research team hopes to have a better chance of providing effective cognitive strategies to help risk-seeking adolescents regulate their emotions and avoid risk-taking behavior and substance abuse. http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/blog_page/study-brain-imaging-shows-brain-differences-in-risk-taking-teens

So, in answer to the question should you spy on your Kids? Depends on the child. Some children are more susceptible to peer pressure and impulsive behavior than others. They will require more and possibly more intrusive direction. Others really are free range children and have the resources and judgment to make good decisions in a variety of circumstances. Even within a family there will be different needs and abilities. The difficulty for parents is to make the appropriate judgments and still give each child the feeling that they have been treated fairly. Still, for some kids, it is not out of line for parents to be snoops, they just might save the child and themselves a lot of heartache.

Resources:

Sexting Information: What every parent should know about sexting.
http://www.noslang.com/sexting.php

Social Networking and Internet Safety Information for Parents: Sexting
http://internet-safety.yoursphere.com/sexting/

Teen Sexting Tips
http://www.safeteens.com/teen-sexting-tips/

Related:

New study about ‘sexting’ and teens
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/new-study-about-sexting-and-teens/

Sexting’ during school hours
https://drwilda.com/2012/08/05/sexting-during-school-hours/

Children and swearing
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/children-and-swearing/

Does what is worn in school matter?
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/does-what-is-worn-in-school-matter/

Teen dating violence on the rise
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/teen-dating-violence-on-the-rise/

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
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