Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development

Child Welfare Information Gateway

“One area that has been receiving increasing research attention involves the effects of abuse and neglect on the developing brain, especially during infancy and early childhood. Much of this research is providing biological explanations for what practitioners have long been describing in psychological, emotional, and behavioral terms.There is now scientific evidence of altered brain functioning as a result of early abuse and neglect. This emerging body of knowledge has many implications for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.”

Infant Brain Development: How parents and caregivers can nurture positive brain development

“The power of the brain is very interconnected. In early years, children learn symbols to understand meanings. For example, outstretched arms may mean a toddler wants “up,” or hugs may be a symbol of love and security. But over time, these key elements found in the emotional centers of the brain begin to organize responses that happen. Over time, life experiences combine to form our understanding of abstract concepts, such as justice, pride, forgiveness, anger, and security. Adults play a critical role in the lives of children. Helping children organize their world takes time, patience, and warmth, but these efforts form the building blocks to positive, human interactions.”

Kids Count Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being

“Despite the economic recovery, the child poverty rate remained at 22 percent in 2014, unchanged from the prior year. Even this figure substantially understates the proportion of children facing economic hardship. Researchers estimate that families need
an income that is at least twice the federal poverty level — $48,016 for a family of four — to cover basic expenses for housing, food, transportation, health care and child care. In 2014, 44 percent of children lived in households with incomes less than twice the poverty level. Thirty percent of children lived in families where no parent had full-time, year-round employment. We cannot allow economic hardship to limit the potential of nearly half of all American children.”