Monthly Archives: June 2012

US reported second highest in child poverty out of world’s richest countries

SCOPE, Paulo Sacramento

UNICEF recently published a report called “Measuring Child Poverty”, which analyzes data on child deprivation and relative child poverty as to 35 countries it classifies as the world’s richest. This report is part of a multi-part research series on children’s well-being throughout the world.

The countries examined include the following: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.

On the list measuring the percentage of children living in relative poverty in each of the countries, the United States ranked second highest. The United States also ranked highest as to the “poverty gap”, a measurement of the gap between the poverty line and the incomes of those below the poverty line.

According to the report’s author, Peter Adamson, nations that are failing to maintain their children’s economic well being are failing their most vulnerable as well as storing up future social and economic problems for the years ahead.

I think this data indicates a sad reality about priorities in the United States.

You can read the full text of the UNICEF report here: Measuring Child Poverty, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Report Card 10.

Elite private prep school in the news for sexual abuse

Horace Mann prep school in New York

I have to admit – I was very surprised. Just like most of you, I’ve read the stories about Catholic priests and child sexual abuse. I knew there were so many cases of abuse and coverup by Catholic clergy that the lawsuits led to bankruptcy filings by a number of Archdioses. Like many people, I was initially shocked but upon learning all the gruesome facts, but eventually came to terms with the understanding that Catholic priests regularly preyed on schoolchildren in sexual assaults. It became part of my world view that Catholic priests carry on a history of inappropriate behaviors with children and thought it was a secret part of that culture.

Suddenly, this weekend, I read about the elite private prep school Horace Mann in New York, a school recently named second in a Forbes list of top prep schools in the country and regularly named in the top ten. It turns out that in this school for the privileged, multiple teachers engaged in sexual behaviors with numerous students, everyone keeping the incidents quiet for years. At least three teachers and coaches have been identified as engaging in the molestation from 1978 until 1994.

Reportedly, the school dealt with the incidents very discreetly, in two cases letting the teachers go though without any warning to other schools to which they thereafter moved, and in one allowing a teacher to remain. The school is accused of failing to report the molestation to police or to parents.

My world view has changed. Yes, I’ve heard the Sandusky story and the other stories of molestation in the Boy Scouts, public schools, and other institutions where adults have access to children. However, this one is different.

I genuinely thought that elite schools to which admission is highly selective rose above the others. I believed they were places where children were protected, kept safe, nurtured, taught by the highest quality of educators. I thought they were places in which we all aspire to educate our families.

I’ve learned that my view was idealistic – and that child abuse reaches the most apparently golden of places.

This story was the subject of a recent New York Times cover article and has led to widespread press coverage and commentary by victims who have come forward to share their stories. Here is an interview with an alumnus who wrote the recent New York Times story: Behind the Cover Story: Amos Kamil on Sexual Abuse at Horace Mann

Latest DSM-5 revisions reflect recognition of the importance of traumatic stress

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is continuing to work on revisions to the latest draft of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Public comment on the most recent proposed revisions is being accepted until June 15.

The revisions include a number of changes indicating a broader recognition of traumatic stress, its complexity, and its impact on the mental health. In fact, the proposed organizational structure of the manual contains a Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders category.

The following are some of the proposed revisions on this subject: (1) revisions of the criteria for PTSD; (2) a preschool subtype of PTSD; (3) a subtype of PTSD with prominent dissociative symptoms; (4) a proposed splitting of Reactive Attachment Disorder into two separate diagnoses: Reactive Attachment Disorder and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder; and (5) a new category, Trauma- or Stressor-Related Disorder Not Elsewhere Classified.

If you would like to take a look, here is the APA’s current DSM-5 revision page: Recent Updates to Proposed Revisions to DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association, DSM-5 Development.

Implications of the Sandusky case


When a scandal such as the Sandusky case breaks, people listen. They become outraged when they learn about the horrific abuse heaped on children while others stood by watching. When an individual case is brought to light, it becomes undeniable that something was wrong with the priorities of adults who knew about the abuse and chose to turn a blind eye.

But does the general public recognize that this case is only the tip of the iceberg and that this goes on every day? The prevalence of abuse and apathy is enormous.

One of the underlying themes in this scenario is national, personal, and social priorities with regard to power and innocence.

My thirteen year-old daughter asked me today about the impending California fois gras ban. She saw a film clip on the news of geese being force fed with tubes, and being the innocent, sensitive, smart, and sweet girl she is, asked how people can be so cruel to animals. As I talked about how humans were made to be capable of eating animals, I mentioned that our methods of raising the animals didn’t have to be so cruel. She wondered why no one eats people – “Well we’re at the top of the food chain,” I answered, but I realized that people manifest power frameworks in metaphorical ways. People are cruel to others, destroy others, feed off the pain of others – people like Sandusky.

This goes on throughout the world in multiple types of manifestations. Not only do people prioritize power and money over kindness, but people engage in abuse and cruelty toward the innocent as a form of weilding power and attempting to ease their own pain.

Abuse of the innocent is an ancient and continuing phenomenon, and it is so much more prevalent than we like to admit. It starts with children, and it leads to all types of power wielding activity, including governmental corruption, economic exploitation, and violence of all types.

The question is – do we have to be the victims or the perpetrators in the power scenario? Are people afraid that if they blow the whistle instead of standing by idly and watching, they will lose their power and turn into victims?

Here’s an interesting article in Boston Daily on the implications of the Sandusky case: