Child Abuse Prevention Academy held at Cuesta College
Pediatrician Nisha Abdul Cader featured guest speaker
Center for Family Strengthening partnered with Cuesta College and Community Counseling Center for its fifth annual Child Abuse Prevention Academy at Cuesta College on Friday, April 24. This year’s attendance was up and included human development and nurse practitioner students as well as the general public, CFS reported.
Pediatrician Nisha Abdul Cader was the featured guest speaker. She educated the audience by describing scientific studies that showed how negative emotional childhood experiences can so negatively affect a young child resulting in underdeveloped social and emotional skills and negative impacts on society as a whole. She then showed the positive and hopeful implications for prevention of child abuse.
Dr. Cader played a video of a happy mother having a caring, loving, joyful playtime with her 8-month old baby. The baby was joyful and active constantly cooing and laughing and was very content as she looked into her mother’s happy face. Then the scene changed. The mother ignored the baby, showed a blank face and did not respond to any of the baby’s cooing or other attempts by the baby to capture the mother’s attention. The baby first became loud then started fussing and eventually showed signs of stress, by tossing and crying, ultimately withdrawing into anger and isolation.
Dr. Cader explained that caregiver communication of love and joy is essential for healthy development a child. She explained that when the baby is isolated and lacks loving communication, the baby senses danger and becomes fearful, resulting in stress, crying and anger. These back and forth interactions literally shape the architecture of the baby’s developing brain. Neglect can lead to toxic stress, which takes its toll on a child’s health and interferes with brain hardwiring processes, impacting the way children learn and regulate their behavior negatively. These changes are virtually permanent and have lifelong effects. Most adults sense that it takes a lifetime to overcome the hurtful pains of childhood.
Dr. Cader’s conclusion is that extensive biological and developmental research shows that significant neglect — the ongoing disruption or significant absence of caregiver responsiveness—can cause more harm to a young child’s development than overt physical abuse. This, she said, leads to the greater likelihood of the child experiencing major problems in later life, alcoholism, depression, obesity, heart disease, risk for intimate partner violence to name but a few, which can also impact our community in a negative way.
Other speakers included Julie Seden-Hansen, LMFT, Counseling Services Director of RISE. She spoke about the negative effects of sexual trauma on the developing child. She discussed types of sexual trauma which varies widely, the physical effects on stress response and the development of an abused child’s worldview or his outlook on life and how he sees himself fit in to the world.
Director of Parent Connection for CFS Michele Gordon, discussed the five protective factors every family needs to thrive and building protective factors in families. The absence of any one of the five protective factors in a family may cause significant stress and trigger potential abuse. The five protective factors are: parental resilience; social connection; knowledge of parenting and child development; concrete support in times of need; and children’s social and emotional development.
Lisa Fraser, Executive Director, for Center for Family Strengthening concluded with “The day was filled with practical information on child development and proven best practices to enhance the health and well-being of children in our community. Ages 0-5 are the most critical years to ensure healthy, productive adults.”
About Dr. Abdul Cader
In 2007, Dr. Abdul Cader is one of approximately 300 board certified child abuse pediatricians in the United States. She is the Medical Director for the Suspected Abuse Response Team, Pediatric Consultant for Martha’s Place Children’s Assessment Center and Supervising Physician at the Juvenile Service Center for the County of San Luis Obispo. In addition, Dr. Abdul Cader received the 2012 Hands on Hero Award for her dedication to the children of San Luis Obispo County.
About Center for Family Strengthening (CFS)
In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority. To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening go to www.cfsslo.org or call (805) 543-6216.
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