Leave the child alone! Radical brain changes due to child abuse

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Please don’t hit me! Reports confirm that radical changes can take place in the brains of children if they undergo child abuse. It’s a topic of grave public health concern as neglect and abuse of little children has the capability of permanently changing the brain. These changes influence the functions of the child during childhood and adulthood.

Child-abuse, Source of concern

It is necessary to find a way out of this predicament and develop a national strategy as the researchers insist that the response should be “immediate, coordinated” and the abuse needs to be addressed by obtaining a clear understanding and focus towards the prevention of child abuse.

On The United States Department of Health and Human Services website there is a manual available that was started in 1944. This extensive manual has developed specially to outline techniques or responses that can be used in abuse incidents.

The data shocks as there has been no decline in the abuse rates. Another trend has been noticed the rates of sexual and physical abuse have shown a decrease in number but there is a rise seen in the cases of emotional and psychological abuse.

Psychological abuse

Constant emotional and psychological abuse can expose the children to a range of mental illnesses, they may face difficulties with impulse control, show erratic attachment patterns with others , resort to substance abuse, get used to domestic abuse when they grow up, face legal difficulties, etc.

They may face health difficulties and lose their jobs resulting in severe financial hassles.
Anne Petersen, the chairperson in charge of these studies concluded, “Child abuse and neglect is a serious public health problem which requires immediate, urgent attention.”
The abused children have shown noteworthy changes in the functioning of the limbic system . Studies show that the type of abuse that the person faces have shown abnormal changes in this area of the brain.. “When different types of abuses are combined, this rate of change to soar to as high as 113 percent” say the experts.

Limbic system

The limbic system is actually responsible for a number of survival instincts like freezing in a situation, fleeing from a situation, taking flight, and other responses. If a person has been exposed to an abusive environment for a long time, they may show maladaptive reactions to abusive stimuli leading to an inappropriate stress reaction in life situations. These are reactions that are characteristic of post traumatic stress disorder.

The stressful situations take a toll on the functioning of the cortex as well. It effects rationality, and can also ebb the problem solving capacity in the child.

This is where the neural plasticity comes in; this is the brain’s way of redirecting itself into some more productive and adaptive activity patterns. But this can be done only if proper treatment is channelized towards the person. Taking the child out of the range of the abuser, removing him from the abusive environment and offering adequate support and therapy to the child can help the child’s brain adjust positively and respond normally to a positive stimulus. This will help the child deal with traumas and their impacts.

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