Resilience and child abuse and neglect

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The long-term effects of child sexual abuse.
Cashmore J
5 August 2013

This webinar will present an overview of recent Australian and international research on the long-term effects of child sexual abuse. The research on the longer-term impact of child sexual abuse indicates that victim/survivors may experience a range of negative consequences for mental health and adjustment in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Not all victim/survivors will experience these difficulties - family support and strong peer relationships appear to be important in mediating the impact of abuse. Teasing out the effects of child sexual abuse is complex and may be complicated by other adverse experiences in childhood and adulthood (including being victimised again). Aspects of the abuse, including the relationship with the perpetrator and the betrayal of trust, the age and gender of the child, and the particular form of abuse as well as others' reactions to and handling of any disclosures, also appear to be important factors. This webinar will draw upon findings from CFCA paper no. 11, 'The long-term effects of child sexual abuse', which was written by Associate Professor Cashmore and Dr Rita Shackel.

Family stressors and children's outcomes
Jones E, Gutman L and Platt L
London : Dept. of Education, c2013.

This report investigates the impact of family stresses and resources on child outcomes, using two longitudinal studies from Great Britain. First, it examines what family factors, stresses, and parental behaviours are associated with children's outcomes at age seven. It then examines whether stressful life events experienced at different periods of childhood are associated with poor outcomes in adolescence. Data is taken from the Millennium Cohort Study and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Child outcomes include verbal skills, non-verbal skills, maths skills, school readiness, and behavioural difficulties, and adolescent outcomes include school results at ages 14 and 16 and emotional, behavioural, social, and school wellbeing at age 13. Risk and protective factors assessed include child illness or disability, family size, family poverty, parent education and literacy skills, parent smoking or drug use, social support, benefits receipt, home ownership, peer contact, and neighbourhood safety. Stressful life events assessed include bereavement, child abuse, homelessness, relocation, and divorce.

Risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect
Child Family Community Australia, Australian Institute of Family Studies
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2013.

This paper provides an overview of the risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect. It is important that practitioners and policy-makers working with children and families operate from a broad understanding of these risk and protective factors and the ways in which they interact.

Bridges to adulthood: understanding the lifelong influence of men's childhood experiences of violence : analyzing data from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) (PDF)
Contreras J
Washington, DC : International Center for Research on Women ; Rio de Janeiro : Instituto Promundo, 2012.

This report explores the prevalence and nature of violence against boys in low- and middle-income countries, and its impacts into adulthood. Data is taken from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) for six countries: Brazil, Chile, Croatia, India, Mexico and Rwanda. Information is presented for: childhood exposure to violence, including domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and bullying; protective factors; and the influence of childhood violence on adult attitudes to gender and gender roles, adulthood criminal behaviour and paying for sex, relationship dynamics and parenting, men's health, and intimate partner violence. The implications for action are also discussed.

What's the buzz? Bumblebees - a therapeutic preschool for abused children.
Prentice K, Signal T and Taylor N
Sexual Abuse in Australia and New Zealand v. 4 no. 1 Apr 2012: 11-21

The Bumblebees Therapeutic Preschool is an early intervention preschool initiative in Bundaberg, Queensland. It provides assessment, therapy, and education for children aged 3-6 who have experienced or are at risk of child abuse, and aims to increase resilience and alleviate behaviour problems. This article evaluates the program's effectiveness in achieving these aims, based on an assessment of 72 participants at intake and exit.

Families with futures : family studies into the 21st century
Karraker M and Grochowski J
London : Routledge, c2012.

"[This book] provides a ... contemporary look at the discipline's theories, methods, essential topics, and career opportunities. Featuring strong coverage of theories and methods, readers explore family concepts and processes through a positive prism. Concepts are brought to life through ... examples from everyday family life and cutting-edge scholarship."

Working with abused children : focus on the child
Doyle C
Houndmills, U.K. : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Aimed at students and practitioners, this book provides an introduction to issues and practice in child protection work. Illustrated with examples from the author's work in Great Britain, the book describes good practice, assessment, and intervention, with individuals, groups, families, and children in out of home care. The book also discusses the impact of child abuse in later life, resilience, and issues for child protection workers.

Children's exposure to domestic violence in Australia
Richards K
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2011.

Children's 'witnessing' or exposure to domestic violence has been increasingly recognised as a form of child abuse, both in Australia and internationally. Although it is difficult to accurately assess the scope of the problem, research has demonstrated that a substantial amount of domestic violence is witnessed by children. As this paper outlines, witnessing domestic violence can involve a range of incidents, ranging from the child 'only' hearing the violence, to the child being forced to participate in the violence or being used as part of a violent incident. In this paper, current knowledge about the extent of children's exposure to domestic violence in Australia is described, along with the documented impacts that this exposure can have on children. This includes psychological and behavioural impacts, health and socioeconomic impacts, and its link to the intergenerational transmission of violence and re-victimisation. Current legislative and policy initiatives are then described and some community-based programs that have been introduced in Australia to address the problem of children's exposure to domestic violence are highlighted. The paper concludes that initiatives focused on early intervention and holistic approaches to preventing and responding to children's exposure to domestic violence should be considered as part of strategies developed to address this problem. (Publisher abstract)

Key facts about child maltreatment (PDF)
Asmussen K
London : NSPCC, 2010.

This briefing summarises the current research on child maltreatment. Drawing on studies from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, it outlines information on the causes and consequences of child abuse. Sections include: What is child maltreatment?; How common is child maltreatment?; What are the causes of child maltreatment?; What are the consequences of child maltreatment?; Resilience; Child deaths; Who are the perpetrators?; What do children think of their abuse and abusers?; How can child abuse be stopped?; What works in stopping parents from abusing their children?; What works in preventing parents from abusing their children?; and Implications for policy and practice.

Family is for life: connections between childhood family experiences and wellbeing in early adulthood.
Price-Robertson R, Smart D and Bromfield L
Family Matters no. 85 2010: 7-17

A large body of international research has shown that the experiences of childhood can exert an enduring influence on an individual's life. However, there is a dearth of recent Australian research demonstrating connections between childhood experiences within the family, and outcomes in adulthood. This article provides prevalence figures for a range of childhood familial experiences (both positive and adverse), and examines the associations between these experiences and psychosocial outcomes in young adulthood. The paper uses data from the Australian Temperament Project, a longitudinal study of children's development that commenced in 1983 and has collected 14 waves of data over the first 24 years of life. Key findings suggest that positive development (or 'doing well') in young adulthood relies on the active investment of caregivers' love, affection and encouragement during childhood, rather than simply the absence of adverse experiences. They also indicate that although young adult survivors of childhood maltreatment may be faring adequately in the social sphere, they are still much more likely than others to suffer from internalising problems such as depression and anxiety.

Protecting children from violence : evidence based interventions
Lampinen J and Sexton-Radek K
New York : Psychology Press, 2010.

"Providing an evidence-based understanding of the causes and consequences of violence against children, experts in the field examine the best practices used to help protect children from violence. Various types of violence are reviewed including physical and sexual abuse, (cyber-)bullying, human trafficking, online predators, abductions, and war. In addition, it reviews the various perpetrators of such violence including parents and relatives, strangers, other children, and societal institutions. The possible outcomes of such violence including physical injuries, death, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, and damage to the social fabric of the local community are also explored."

Working with vulnerable families : a partnership approach
Arney F and Scott D
Port Melbourne, Vic. : Cambridge University Press, 2010.

This book explores the ways agencies can work with vulnerable families to enhance child welfare and prevent child abuse. The chapters highlight a relationship-based practice approach to supporting families who are facing overwhelming situations, as well as interagency collaboration and working with parent strengths. Chapters include: Think child, think family, think community, by Dorothy Scott, Fiona Arney and Graham Vimpani; Family strengths: an international perspective, by John DeFrain, Sylvia Asay and Judi Geggie; Harnessing 'resilience' when working with children and families, by Edwina Farrall and Fiona Arney; Working within and between organisations, by Dorothy Scott; Family centred practice in early childhood settings, by Dorothy Scott; Sustained nurse home visiting with families of Aboriginal children, by Fiona Arney, Kerrie Bowering, Alwin Chong, Virginia Healy and Bob Volkmer; Including fathers in work with vulnerable families, by Richard Fletcher; Parenting in a new culture: working with refugee families, by Kerry Lewig, Fiona Arney, Mary Salveron and Maria Barredo; Responding to parents with complex problems who are involved with statutory child protection services, by Fiona Arney, Ruth Lange and Carole Zufferey; Engaging family members in decision-making in child welfare contexts, by Marie Connolly; Supporting parents whose children are in out-of-home care, by Mary Salveron, Kerry Lewig and Fiona Arney; Using evidence-informed practice to support vulnerable families, by Fiona Arney, Kerry Lewig, Leah Bromfield and Prue Holzer; and Spreading promising ideas and innovations in child and family services, by Kerry Lewig, Fiona Arney, Mary Salveron, Helen McLaren, Christine Gibson and Dorothy Scott.

Childhood sexual experiences : narratives of resilience
Hunter S
Abingdon, UK : Radcliffe, c2010.

Sexual relations between children and adults is a highly controversial issue, and is usually framed as child sexual abuse. However, not all people regard their childhood sexual experiences as abusive or having an impact on their lives. Without detracting from the significant trauma of child abuse, this book seeks to explore divergent narratives of childhood sexual experiences, in particular to examine the factors leading to resilience in adversity or reduced perceptions of severity. The chapters look at the current literature on child sexual abuse and experiences, family and environmental protective and risk factors, the psychology of disclosure, coping mechanisms, gender differences, affect on sexuality, and the implications for therapy, and draws upon the narratives of adults who describe their perceptions - in childhood and adulthood - of their experiences. The outline of a ten week recovery programme is also included.

Resilient communities: socio-demographic factors associated with lower than expected rates of child protection reporting in small areas in NSW (PDF)
Butler M, Hopkins J and Nivison-Smith I
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Community Services, 2009.

This report examines the relationship between child protection referral rates and socio-demographic factors. It analyses data for local government areas in New South Wales, using an area-based regression approach, to identify the child, parental, and neighbourhood factors associated with both higher and lower rates of child abuse incidents. The report also discusses the concept of resilient communities and factors associated with lower than expected child protection referral rates, which, the authors note, can also be the result of under-reporting or higher reporting thresholds.

Child maltreatment : prevalence, risk, solutions, obstacles.
Ronan K, Canoy D and Burke K
Australian Psychologist v. 44 no. 3 Sep 2009 Child maltreatment special issue: 195-213

Child maltreatment is a growing problem nationally in Australia. This paper documents the extent of the problem. It also presents a range of interventions shown to work, including a number that have been developed and used here in Australasia. Despite the fact that there are evidence-based services available, the problem of child maltreatment continues to grow. Problems linked to implementing and sustaining an evidence-based program or culture include organisations that are resistant to change, whose staff see a new program as short term and not a part of longer-term, routine service delivery. In the face of such a climate, these initial conditions then have potential to become exacerbated through hasty implementation of new services that are not well thought out, resourced or supported. With intervention services that have documented potential, the critical next step is to ensure that implementation is done correctly to guarantee that successful services are being delivered effectively over the long term. Thus, following a description of the problem of child maltreatment and review of potential intervention-based solutions, this paper then discusses factors that need to be considered when advocating for or adopting a new, evidence-supported service. Psychologists have a role to play in the future to help stem the growth of child maltreatment in Australia, at both local service delivery as well as state and national policy levels.

Problem sexual behaviour in children: a review of the literature
O'Brien W
Canberra : Australian Crime Commission, 2008.

This report reviews the literature on childhood problem sexual behaviour, with a particular focus on Indigenous children and the relationship between disadvantage and problem behaviour. Information is provided on: research issues, situational factors rather than individual pathology, Indigenous disadvantage, Risk factors and correlatives, risk pathways and protective pathways, and structural factors of Indigenous disadvantage and dysfunction that constitute risk pathways to problem sexual behaviour and child sexual exploitation.

Beyond adversity : giving kids a chance to shine
Wesley Mission (Sydney, N.S.W.)
Sydney, N.S.W. : Wesley Mission, 2007.

The Wesley Mission surveyed 612 adults who had experienced at least one form of childhood adversity. It examined the factors associated with ongoing problems in the adult lives of some participants, and factors in others that helped them overcome childhood adversity. The three main factors associated with positive adult outcomes were adverse experiences commencing at the age of seven or later, adversity that was not long lasting, and experiencing only one form of adversity. Factors associated with poor adult outcomes were adversity commencing at a younger age, long lasting adversity and multiple types of adversity. Resilience in children was predicted by three broad factors: an individual's easy going temperament and optimism; close relationship with at least one family member and good adult role models; and community factors such as positive school experiences and supportive relationships outside the family. The study recommendations focus on providing opportunities that are external to the family.

The relationship between parenting and poverty (PDF)
Katz I
York England : Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2007.

Growing up with risk
Thom B, Sales R and Pearce J
Bristol, UK : Policy Press, 2007.

"[This book] provides a critical analysis of ways in which risk assessment and management - now a pervasive element of contemporary policy and professional practice - are defined and applied in policy, theory and practice in relation to children and young people. Drawing on conceptual frameworks from across the social sciences, the book examines contrasting perspectives on risk that occur in different policy domains and professional and lay discourses, discussing the dilemmas of response that arise from these sometimes contested viewpoints - from playground safety to risks associated with youthful substance use. The contributors address issues of gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status which impact on definitions and responses to risk, and consider related concepts, such as 'risk-resilience', care-control' and 'dependence-autonomy'."

The silent crisis : simple ways to protect children from sexual abuse
Robinson A
Perth, WA : Silversky Publishing, 2007.

This book aims to educate parents about child sexual abuse: improving child safety through parental awareness. It explains the dangers and warning signs of child sexual abuse and outlines preventive strategies for minimising risk and empowering children to trust their instincts and seek help. Topics include sexual abuse and child development, the characteristics of paedophiles, child abuse by family members, the signs of child abuse, socialisation, resilience, building effective parent child relationships, and strategies for suspected abductions and use of the internet.

Risk, protection and resilience in children and families (PDF95KB)
NSW Centre for Parenting and Research
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Community Services, 2007.

This paper explains the nature of risk, protection and resilience factors in children and families, and their implications for child welfare intervention. Written for Department of Community Services staff, it summarises the research literature on risk and protective factors, cumulative risk and modifiable risk factors, important risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect, and the role of risk, protection and resilience in early intervention.

Detoxifying the child and family welfare system for Australian indigenous peoples : self-determination, rights and culture as the critical tools. (PDF)
Bamblett M and Lewis P
First Peoples Child & Family Review v. 3 no. 3 2007: 43-56

The colonisation of Australia has broken many of the traditional circles of care for Indigenous children. This article argues that Australian Indigenous culture should be seen as a strength and a protective factor for promoting resilience in Indigenous children and overcoming the cycle of dysfunction in Indigenous communities. The article provides an insight into the effects of cultural abuse, and links self determination and the embedding of culture in Indigenous child and family welfare services with improved and effective outcomes. It outlines the role of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency in promoting Aboriginal culture in early childhood settings. It welcomes the opportunity provided by the Victorian Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 to prioritise cultural and community connection in child and family protection and intervention services.

Families and substance use: building a resource for recovery.
Magor-Blatch L
Communities, Children and Families Australia v. 3 no. 1 Dec 2007 34-44

The parenting of people with a drug or alcohol addiction may be characterised by inconsistency, irritability, lack of energy and impaired judgement. The result of this, together with the social context in which parents find themselves and the absence of family or friendship support systems, may set up a dynamic between parent and child that can increase the risk of maltreatment. The increasing number of children affected by parental substance use is a social issue requiring action on a number of levels. This paper describes a program that works with families where substance abuse is in evidence. The Karralika Family Program, set up by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation Australian Capital Territory (ADFACT), works particularly with single mothers and children, but also with single fathers and couples with and without children. Extended families and friends are also supported in the community as part of a process of building resilience. The paper highlights the importance of a range of interventions utilised in the family program.

Constructing a sense of self following early sexual experiences with adults: a qualitative research study.
Hunter S
Psychotherapy in Australia v. 13 no. 4 Aug 2007 12-21

The aim of this research project was to develop a fuller understanding of the process of constructing a sense of self following early sexual experiences with an adult. Using narrative inquiry, a sample of twenty-two men and women aged twenty-five to seventy were interviewed about their early sexual experiences, at the age of fifteen or under with someone over eighteen. Participants told four different narratives about these experiences: narratives of silence: of ongoing suffering; of transformation: and of transcendence. These four narratives have been examined in the light of the literature relating to childhood sexual abuse, and the victim and survivor discourses. To an extent they challenged current conventional views about child sexual abuse. The implications for therapists working with men and women who have experienced child sexual abuse are discussed.

Safeguarding children and young people : a guide to integrated practice
Walker S and Thurston C
Lyme Regis England : Russell House Publishing, 2006.

"[This] guide analyses how practitioners are striving to make sense of and implement the latest legal, organisational and government guidance. It will enable you to undertake effective integrated practice by helping you: Assess vulnerable children, young people and their families; Work in partnership with children, parents and other professionals; Use the integrated children's system; Ensure your work reflects a children's rights agenda; Help young people who are undergoing life transitions to look after themselves; Contribute to multi-disciplinary collaborative family support; Practice in a socially inclusive and culturally competent way; Implement the lessons of the Laming and Bichard inquiries."

Working with children and adolescents : an evidence-based approach to risk and resilience
Garralda M and Flament M
Lanham. Md. : Jason Aronson, c2006.

Working with traumatized youth in child welfare
Webb N
New York : Guilford Press, c2006.

This book integrates child protection and developmental psychopathology literature to assist therapists working with maltreated children and their families. It explains the impact of trauma and maltreatment on the devoloping brain and the implications for therapy, as well as discussing specific therapies, services and patient groups, such as teenage mothers, disbled children, assessment, family violence, and foster care placements.

Working with abused children
Doyle C
Houndmills England : Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

"Opening with a ... discussion of the nature and place of theory, power and values in practice, the book goes on to capture the perspectives of abused children through moving personal accounts by abuse survivors. It draws on child development research and an ecological theoretical approach to provide an ... examination of the personal and environmental factors contributing to child maltreatment. It includes details of how abused children can be helped through individual, family and group work, substitute care and preventative strategies."

Families with futures : a survey of family studies for the 21st century
Karraker M and Grochowski J
Mahwah, N.J. : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, c2006.

Embedding culture for a positive future for Koorie kids.
Hunter S
In: Positive futures - Achieving well-being for children and families: proceedings of the Conference of the Association of Childrens Welfare Agencies, 14-16 August 2006. Haymarket, NSW: Association of Childrens Welfare Agencies, 2006, 11p, Online (MS Word 67K)

The authors discuss the importance of connection with culture as a factor in developing resilience as an essential life skill. Referring to the cultural abuse experienced by Aboriginal people throughout colonisation processes in Australia, they identify one of the key strategies of Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) as reconnecting Indigenous children with their families, with social networks of care and with their culture. By building on the resilience of Indigenous cultures they seek to develop resilience in Indigenous children and to strengthen Indigenous self determination of the future of their children.

See more resources on Resilience and child abuse and neglect in the AIFS library catalogue