Monthly Archives: June 2014

Yale study links childhood trauma to decreased gray matter volume in the brain

Brain affected by childhood trauma
Yale News

Numerous studies have shown that childhood trauma, including child abuse and neglect, lead to brain abnormalities, changes in brain structure and function. Recent studies have used modern technologies such as MRI and fMRI scans to make these showings.

A number of studies have focused on damage to the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved with emotion, memory, and consolidation of information. Research has shown that the hippocampus is affected and damaged by excessive continuing stress caused by continuing trauma such as child abuse or ongoing violence in the home.

A recent study out of Yale University, published in the the journal JAMA Psychiatry on June 11, 2014, focused on the affect of the hippocampal damage of subjects who experienced childhood maltreatment on recalcitrant drug addiction and likelihood of relapse. Performing brain scans on 175 patients undergoing drug treatment and on controls who were not currently drug addicted, the Yale researchers found that individuals who has undergone childhood maltreatment suffered damage to the hippocampal region of the brain. They also made the finding that those who had suffered childhood maltreatment and had damage to their hippocampus were more likely to relapse in their substance abuse disorder.

The Boy Scout “Perversion Files”

The Oregonian

In October of 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the Boy Scouts of America to release confidential files the organization had kept for years. These files, known as “the Perversion Files”, contain records of Boy Scout volunteers who had been subject to allegations of sexual abuse and records of what the Boy Scout organization did in response to discovering the allegations. The files may have been complied from as early as the 1920’s.

Since then, these files have been searchable online, including names of perpetrators. As pointed out in a New York Times editorial of October 19, 2012, the Boy Scouts have defended keeping the files confidential arguing that the privacy allowed them to be subject a a system of internal controls which helped prevent attempts by the alleged perpetrators to rejoin scouting.

However, the result of this secrecy is a failure to report the allegations to law enforcement and protection for the abusers from criminal punishment for their behavior. The Boy Scots failed to report many allegations to the public as well.

A number of the files also detail situations in which the Boy Scouts terminated volunteers subject to allegations, and thereafter the volunteers rejoining and reoffending within the organization.

The release order began with a civil lawsuit in Oregon Superior Court by six victims of sexual abuse which resulted in a punitive damages award of 18.5 million against the Boy Scout organization. The law firm that won the civil lawsuit appealed all the way to the Oregon Supreme Court on the issue of release of the files, winning a release order from the Supreme Court.

At the time of the release, the Boy Scouts issued an apology for their part in failing to protect the children from abusers. Additionally, they pointed out that by 2012, the police were involved in 63% of cases.

For more information, see this Washington Post article regarding the 2012 release of the files: Boy scout “perversion files” released, The Washington Post, by Paul Duggan, October 18, 2012.