Just about anyone can report a parent to a child abuse hotline. It’s meant to protect children, but all too often, parents are reported when no abuse or neglect exists in order to retaliate for a divorce or some other grievance. And though the world is actually safer for children than it used to be, some parents are reported for merely letting children play outside or walk to school without an adult in attendance, what was once thought of as normal. Some activists say this robs children of independence. An expert and a woman who went through an unjustified child abuse investigation discuss.
Corey Widen, mother reported to child abuse hotline, Wilmette, IL
Rachel Ruttenberg, Executive Director, Family Defense Center, Chicago
Many children are bullied, especially in the middle school years, and many parents worry about their kids, especially if the parents have experienced this themselves growing up. But kids with disabilities are about twice as likely to be victims as those without disabilities. Experts discuss the problem and provide specific how-to’s to educate parents and schools to work together to prevent bullying of these children.
Barb Ziemke, Senior Advocate and Parent Trainer, Pacer Center and National No Bullying Prevention Center, Minneapolis
Jan Urbanski, Director of Safe and Humane Schools, Clemson University Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life and Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
Teenagers used to experience rites of passage including getting a driver’s license, going out on dates, drinking, having sex, & getting a job. They’re engaging in these activities much less often today. It means less risk, but may leave adolescents less ready for adulthood and independence. Experts discuss.
Babies and Their Gut Bacteria
Children have up to five times as much asthma and allergies as their grandparents, and a new study shows that an imbalance of gut bacteria in the first year of life may be why. An expert pediatrician discusses why this occurs and ways to address the problem.
In the last 30 years, the number of children that are diagnosed with autism has increased, yet parents have received very little information on what has caused this number to skyrocket. Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, explains that the spike in diagnoses was caused by the development of a new definition for autism. He says that it was initially believed to be caused by a mixture of bad parenting and genetics, making it into a taboo topic, and allowing many people to ignore its presence for almost thirty years.
Over time, autism has become more visible to the public, yet people still have a skewed understanding of what it is. Silberman explains that autism is a lifelong disorder that can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor of Artists & Scientists As Partners Group at Brown University, and author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, states that many of the behaviors that we identify as symptoms of autism are often coping mechanisms for those who are autistic to deal with an environment that can be overwhelming. Among the traits of autism is the inability to easily communicate, which can make this disorder particularly disabling for some.
Since autism has become more prevalent in our culture, it is important for people to understand the myths surrounding autism and take steps to better understand the disorder. Silberman explains that too much money is being spent on looking for risk factors, and not enough is going towards research to help autistic individuals and their families. Dr. Prizant states that the current treatments do little to help autistic individuals, and in some cases can make their lives more difficult. Although research into what causes autism is imperative to understanding the disorder, there should be more focus on making life easier for those who suffer with it everyday.
Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor of Artists & Scientists As Partners Group at Brown University, and author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism
High schoolers in high achieving suburbs & private academies are often pushed to do more and more, and do it well. It creates a culture of pressure that may have severe mental health consequences. Experts discuss where the pressure comes from and what parents can do about it.
A Doctor Who Can Really Feel Your Pain:
Dr. Joel Salinas has mirror touch synesthesia, a condition involving cross-wiring in the brain. The result is that visual stimuli prompt a response in his touch system. He literally feels it when people experience pain. Salinas discusses how this strange condition works and how he is able to use it in diagnosis.
Experts have believed that autism affects four times as many boys as girls, but the ratio may not actually be quite that high. Doctors are learning that autism shows up differently in girls’ behavior as a result of brain differences. This leaves many girls with autism undiagnosed.
Synopsis: Every generation thinks the one behind it is full of spoiled, entitled, lazy kids, prompting parenting advice that research shows is actually harmful to children. An expert discusses why conventional wisdom about raising kids is often all wrong.