Lasting Effects


| 3 Comments
In my introduction to sociology class, my professor assigned us a book about foster care that describes what these children go through when they are young and how this has an effect on them later in their lives. Often times, these children find it hard to find jobs, maintain steady relationships, or even find a home to reside in. From the sociological standpoint, this is linked back to the fact that they do not have the family connections like other children have. Society does not have a clear role for them, so they are lost in the world.

Although this definitely makes sense in my opinion, when I was searching for science articles, I found an article that actually discussed the issues that children who experience early childhood drama deal with in a more scientific way.
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First of all, the article described this trauma as being anything from social status to neglect or even to physical abuse. Many of these problems were experienced by the children in my sociology class's foster care book. 

Research on this subject was presented at an annual meeting for the Society for Neuroscience called Neuroscience 2012. Some of the findings presented were that, Physical abuse experienced at a young age can actually lead to mental disease or even cardiovascular problems. This is because often times there has been a realignment between key body-control areas. It is staggering to see how something like physical abuse can actually hurt the body in a much more detrimental and long-lasting way.

A study was done on infant primates to show how childhood severe stress can lead to damage later in life. The chronic stress at a young age led for the primates to express aggressive and even fearful behaviors later in their lives. The article explains how this can be linked to differences in the stress hormone production and also the development of the amygdala, a set of neurons located in the brain's medial temporal lobe.

Although the book explains how society is the reason for these children experiencing the problems because often times they can not obtain the documentation they need for work or school. They also have issues with feeling loved or cared for because they have no family figure to turn to. These new findings show how their issues may not only arise because of society's rejection of their figure as foster children, but their problems may also be due to key brain functions being damaged.

Another article shows a study done on children who were near ground zero during the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The children from these areas that experienced the most trauma during and following the attacks were more likely to later on turn to drugs and alcohol. These children who began using drugs and alcohol also began to have suffering grades which shows that they may have been experiencing issues with dependence even at a young age.
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The article discusses how early childhood trauma can also be linked to later life addiction issues. Not only are these trauma victims more likely to have brain issues or other health related problems as the first article suggested but now they are also more likely to be dealing with dependence problems linked to drug and alcohol abuse.

Overall, many negative outcomes are related to childhood emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. These negative outcomes also arise from neglect at a young age when parental care is much needed. What other third variable factors could be contributing to their problems later in life? Could there be issues linked to the fact that since many of these children are on their 
own that maybe they are not getting the correct nutrients to supply their bodies? Does anyone else have any findings on this topic?

3 Comments

This is a very interesting and somewhat saddening article. It has been well known that kids who grow up in the foster system have a higher likelihood of a more difficult adult life due to events in their childhood. You mentioned that some of those problems stem from neglect and other third variable influences. I was wondering if our bodies are chemically hardwired to seek affection or attention. Is that why people who are lacking the two during childhood are having trouble later in life? Many people turn to illegal substances to fill the void. Is there an actual chemical craving your body is looking to fulfill. I know many of the life issues have been attributed to emotion problems, but maybe there is a scientific reason. I think research in the area of affection and attention helping you later in life would be really interesting.

This is a very interesting and somewhat saddening article. It has been well known that kids who grow up in the foster system have a higher likelihood of a more difficult adult life due to events in their childhood. You mentioned that some of those problems stem from neglect and other third variable influences. I was wondering if our bodies are chemically hardwired to seek affection or attention. Is that why people who are lacking the two during childhood are having trouble later in life? Many people turn to illegal substances to fill the void. Is there an actual chemical craving your body is looking to fulfill. I know many of the life issues have been attributed to emotion problems, but maybe there is a scientific reason. I think research in the area of affection and attention helping you later in life would be really interesting.

For most of us, the idea that children who experience extreme trauma will experience negative effects later in life is common sense. However, I was surprised to find that in the infant primate study the childhood stress lead to changes in hormone production and brain development. The fact that external forces, whether in the form of physical or emotional abuse, can affect brain development is a very scary thought.
I also think you asked some very thought-provoking questions at the end. As we learned in class, there should always be concerns about confounding variables when it comes to observational studies. The studies you referenced in your blog were both observational and experimental which I think only strengthened the conclusions you came to. However, it’d be interesting to see if things like socioeconomic status or home life did in fact act as third variables. For example, what backgrounds did the children in the 9/11 study come from? And are the differences in brain development between children from relatively good homes who get yelled at every-so-often versus those in dire home situations or foster care who have repeated abuse? Also, what has more of an impact-the frequency or intensity of the trauma? I wrote a blog earlier in this blogging period about the negative effects of yelling at children, which I think ties in well to your topic too, as yelling (a form of childhood stress) has also been proven to negatively affect children in the long term.
Lastly, I think the most important question we need to ask is how do we help the children who are victims of this childhood stress. Is therapy enough or do we need to begin looking into drug therapies. Clearly your blog raises plenty of questions!

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