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A Rape by Any Other Name

Rape by Any Other Name

The first time I told someone what was happening to me, I had no understanding that I was being sexually abused.

I wasn’t reporting a crime. In my mind, I was confessing a sin. I believed I was having an affair with a minister. It was nearly 10 years later that I even started to understand what really happened—that I was groomed by an experienced, accomplished master abuser—that I was raped.

It’s an interesting word, “rape.” Our culture seems to think it has decided what rape is and what rape isn’t. When the word “rape” is used, most people imagine Read more

How Childhood Trauma can Affect Mental and Physical Health into Adulthood

Stressed Woman

For millions of children in the U.S., poverty, neglect or abuse is a reality of everyday life, though these struggles are often hidden from view.

Adult survivors often feel ashamed about and stigmatized for their childhood adversity. This makes it difficult to recognize that these events occur.

While it’s easier to turn away than to face these issues, we can no longer afford to do so. Stress, Read more

Fireworks: Fun or Fear?

Fireworks: Fun or Fear?

Even before my twins were born, I looked forward to sharing holidays with them. The traditions, the family time, the special observances—holidays are some of the best days of the year.

They reveal the sense of wonder that we parents long ago forgot. Everything is new to kids, and watching them discover the themes of freedom, joy, bravery, and thanksgiving is a joy.

However, some holidays come with their own challenges, and Independence Day offers a special one.  Read more

Farm Week in Denmark is Not Your Average Petting Zoo

This article is part 4 of 4 in the column American Mom In Denmark

My first hint that the Danes are generally not sentimental about animals came last year during our first Farm Week at my sons’ combined forest kindergarten and day care.

At the beginning of the week, I picked up my younger son—who was 2½ years old at the time—from the vuggestue (a day care center for infants and toddlers up to age 3) after his midday nap. He was groggy from sleep and enjoying an afternoon snack.

“We had a chicken in the vuggestue today,” the teacher told me, “because it is Farm Week.” Oh wow! A chicken! I imagined a chicken walking around in the back garden Read more

Raise Well-Behaved Children, Part 2: Discipline Without Spanking

This article is part 3 of 5 in the column Two Peds in a Pod®

Questions: Why does that child run into the road? Why does that child hit other kids?

Answer: Because no one ever taught him not to.

Toddlers need lots of teaching, so where do you start? To help teach your on-the-move, act-first-and-ignore-the-consequences toddler how to become more civilized, first make sure BOTH parents agree on the rules. Teach your toddler that you mean what you say. When you call your toddler and he does not come right away, GO TO HIM AND  LEAD HIM BY THE HAND OR PICK HIM UP no matter what the situation. Also remember that civilizing a toddler is a work in progress, not an afternoon project. Read more

Mental Health Care for Foster Children

This article is part 1 of 8 in the column Children of the State

The children in America’s foster care system face a tremendous amount of psychological stress.

Many have been removed from traumatic home situations because of neglect or physical or sexual abuse. Their life in foster care often includes uncertainty, frequent moves, and other difficulties that cause psychological stress. Data collected by the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) estimates that “approximately half of youths aged 2 to 14 years with completed child welfare investigations had clinically significant emotional or behavioral problems” (GAO-12-270T).

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) states Read more

The Child Sex Abuse Scandals Are All the Same and They Demand the Government to Act

This article is part 11 of 13 in the column Marci A. Hamilton

The latest sex abuse scandal in the headlines paints USA Gymnastics in as bad a light as you can imagine. Indeed, it is so bad the successful president of the organization, Steven Penny had to resign. This scandal, amidst a series of other sports scandals, has pushed the U.S. Olympic Committee to create a new board to investigate claims of sex abuse, SafeSport, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, with bipartisan support, to introduce the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act. The latter mandates that anyone who suspects abuse in a National Governing Body (NGB) of an Olympic sport must report the suspected abuse to the authorities, extends the statute of limitations for civil suits against perpetrators, bans one-on-one time between coaches and athletes, and imposes other specific requirements on NGBs. Read more

Raise Well-Behaved Children: Set the Stage While They Are Toddlers

This article is part 1 of 5 in the column Two Peds in a Pod®

When your baby turns 1, you’ll realize he has a much stronger will. My oldest threw his first tantrum the day he turned 1. At first, we puzzled: why was he suddenly lying face down on the kitchen floor? The indignant crying that followed clued us to his anger. “Oh, it’s a tantrum,” my husband and I laughed, relieved he wasn’t sick.

Parenting toddlers requires the recognition that your child innately desires to become independent of you. Eat, drink, sleep, pee, poop: eventually your child will learn to control these basics of life by himself. We want our children to feed themselves, go to sleep when they feel tired, and pee and poop on the potty. Of course, there’s more to life, such as playing, forming relationships, succeeding in school, etc., but we all need the basics. The challenge comes in recognizing when to allow your child more independence and when to reinforce your authority. Read more

Before the Zika Virus: A Look Back at Rubella and Microcephaly

This article is part 2 of 5 in the column Two Peds in a Pod®

The Zika virus in the news these days reminds us of another microcephaly-causing virus which scourged our world in the not-so-distant past. In the years right before the Two Peds doctors were born (late 1960s), the virus rubella routinely swept through the United States and the rest of the world. The airborne germ rubella, just like the mosquito-spread Zika virus, caused most people just a mild illness that they usually never even knew that they had. After they were sick, they became immune to the virus. But when pregnant women contracted rubella early in pregnancy, their unborn children sometimes ended up with microcephaly.

Microcephaly is a condition where a small, underdeveloped, or abnormal brain leads to a small head at birth. Many children with microcephaly have significant mental disabilities. Read more

The Religious Liberty Draft Executive Order and the Risks to Children

This article is part 9 of 13 in the column Marci A. Hamilton

Much has been written about the draft religious liberty executive order that was leaked. The order is so transparently anti-LGBTQ, anti-same sex marriage, and anti-abortion, it is easy to assume these familiar issues exhaust its reach. But its reach, just like the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), goes well beyond anything the religious right that obviously drafted this order either understands or, I hope, intends.

Although these hot-button issues are front and center in its crafting, historic timing, and language, its coverage is not limited to specific beliefs as it Read more

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