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Childhood Stress Leaves Genetic Scars

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the stories-told-in-base-pairs dept.

Medicine 334

sciencehabit writes "Traumatic experiences in early life can leave emotional scars. But a new study suggests that violence in childhood may leave a genetic mark as well. Researchers have found that children who are physically abused and bullied tend to have shorter telomeres — structures at the tips of chromosomes whose shrinkage has been linked to aging and disease."

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More evidence (-1, Redundant)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788707)

As if any more evidence was needed this just adds to the reasons [fdrurl.com] that child abuse should be taken more seriously.

Re:More evidence (4, Insightful)

SaroDarksbane (1784314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788749)

Child abuse isn't taken seriously? Here in the states, child services can take your kid away from you if you so much as look at it wrong in public.

Re:More evidence (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788789)

I was wondering what he was talking about too. Since when is child abuse not taken seriously? Of course, I am assuming he is talking about real child abuse and not spanking.

Re:More evidence (0)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788803)

So you already know the answer but choose to reject it.

Re:More evidence (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788831)

You mean you include spanking as child abuse?

Re:More evidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788869)

Are you suggesting that a child's genetics are capable of detecting the force with which you strike their bottom?

The evidence here is about psychological/emotional trauma, which can be applied by parents in ways that are traditionally acceptable, such as spanking.

Spanking can be traumatic.

Traumatic events can have this affect. It isn't that complex.

Re:More evidence (4, Insightful)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788925)

Spanking can also help stop a kid from doing something that ends up being even more traumatic.

Re:More evidence (0)

mrclevesque (1413593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789027)

But maybe spanking is the way out for an adult who knows no other options or who chooses not to take the time needed to solve the situation otherwise which may or may not include changes in the adults behavior

Re:More evidence (4, Insightful)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789119)

Sometimes spanking is necessary. It isn't necessarily the first thing I would go to. It depends on the child's personality as well as their age. Also, the whole of the point of discipline and part of the point of raising a child is to modify behavior. I doubt anyone wants to have a jerk for a son.

Re:More evidence (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789045)

And it can also be used by lazy parents as an easy way out of parenting responsibly.

It can also be used as an excuse by violent persons justifying the trauma they cause their children (just as was done to them when they were children).

The fact of the matter is that spanking CAN be traumatic.

So this:

I am assuming he is talking about real child abuse and not spanking.

Makes you look like a Grade-A moron and possibly an abusive parent.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789249)

I am assuming he is talking about real child abuse and not spanking.

Makes you look like a Grade-A moron and possibly an abusive parent.

Wow! Hyperbole much?

You're kidding, right? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789169)

Parents need to learn there are other ways to handle discipline and yes, aside from being damaging in yet another known way - previous revelations including lower test scores and greater aggression from children who have been spanked, spanking is the lazy way out. There are more effective, responsible means.

Timeouts for one, if done right and that is key, if done right, are absolutely better. Parents screw this one up by making them too long or delaying them. I for one always found a minute per year of age, given immediately at the time of the infraction regardless of where we were, done standing, done silent and done facing a wall, corner, tree, whatever was handy and followed with an explanation for the punishment and a directive for future behavior was very effective. So effective in fact I would find no need for their use within a couple weeks time. I had compliance.

Now I'll admit these weren't my children - rather I was a nanny for a great many years, and parents tend to have to be around their children a bit more than I had to, so perhaps adjustments would be necessary to maintain effectiveness. Or other avenues explored. My point is simply that there are other ways and they can be much more effective, if done right.

Re:You're kidding, right? (0)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789321)

time outs are crap when i was a kid all time outs meant was that i had to sit in a corner pissed at my parents and plotting to do what i wanted anyway with out getting caught. spanking made me not want to do that again because it hurt. time outs were just a delaying tactic.

An error of reading comprehension or disrespect? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789573)

You say timeouts are crap, but:

(1) You failed to address that I used them as an example of an alternative and in failing to do so, you revealed that you most likely view the subject as if the situation were dichotomous with spanking or timeouts as the only options out there. They aren't.

(2) Your description on how your parents went about it more closely resembles how I described doing a timeout incorrectly and certainly not how I described doing one correctly.

You really want to tell me that if your father had instituted the timeout immediately after the infraction - without delay, had been standing behind you, keeping your head facing the wall, keeping you silent, and gave not before or during but after an explanation for the punishment, and then a directive for future behavior, that it wouldn't have made an impression on you?

I had compliance for years after only days, or at most a couple weeks, of these decisive timeouts. One prerequisite to doing a timeout right is giving it your attention.

Spanking is the lazy man's way out and only a fool thinks otherwise.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789417)

There are levels of trauma and lumping them all together serves no one. There is a huge difference between actual child abuse, as in parents beating their child daily for no reason other than to release their frustration with their own life, and the rare spanking with a controlled force to establish a boundary that the child must learn not to pass.

All this feel-good, "time out", "grounding" has resulted in some of the rudest, loudest and most inconsiderate people on this planet. Starting from the rudest, most egotistic and least empathic children and teenagers that I've ever encountered. Yeah I can see that is just working out fine.

Re:More evidence (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788905)

Of course. The trauma that it inflicts on the brains of children is every bit as real (and measurable) as the trauma inflicted by other forms of abuse so there's no reason to exclude it.

Re:More evidence (4, Informative)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789013)

Actually, if you RTFA you would know that the measurement only applied to two or more kinds of violence exposure. Thus, the occasional spanking without other forms of violence would not qualify as harmful under this study.

Re:More evidence (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789187)

Actually, if you read the link I posted you'd know that there's more evidence of the effects of child abuse known than just this study.

Re:More evidence (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789405)

You should have chosen "Wonko the Insane" for your username...

Re:More evidence (0)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789015)

Inflicting physical pain upon a child is abuse.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789073)

Inflicting physical pain upon a child is abuse.

By that logic every parent is a child abuser by default.

"Life is pain." --Dread Pirate Roberts (Wesley)

Re:More evidence (2)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789141)

You forgot child birth also. Not that I remember, but I am sure that my birth was extremely painful.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789811)

Yeah, for your mom,...

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789235)

Inflicting physical pain upon a child is abuse.

Just for the sake of argument let me point out that many things a responsible parent might do cause physical pain. Take dental braces for example. I had those and they ached constantly. Now, I'm not a parent so I've not given serious thought about spanking my progeny, but it is something that was done to me and I wouldn't call it abuse, nor would I say the same about the dental work.

There are plenty of cases of real child abuse without making sweeping statements like yours.

Re:More evidence (5, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789261)

"Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked." -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Re:More evidence (3, Insightful)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789269)

Indeed.

Don't put disinfectant on that scrape on your kid's knee, because it stings.
Don't take him in for surgery because there will be post-op pain--after all, the doctor abused him by cutting him open. How is this still legal, in this day and age?!

The examples above are cases in which the end justifies the means. I think that there are better ways to discipline most children than spanking, but equating a spanking given by a clearly responsible and loving parent with slapping a kid because he blocked your view of the television is incredibly simplistic. There is an argument to be had about whether or not spanking can be categorized with my examples above, and it's one I'm interested in, but your position is untenable.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789663)

That's what people tell themselves when they psychologically abuse their kids.

Re:More evidence (1, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788851)

Spanking is child abuse. IN what way is hitting a child 1/10 your weight to provoke a fear response that will traumatize future relationships not child abuse?

And that's not even getting into the fact that 'spanking' is a vague term.

Re:More evidence (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788877)

There is a difference between spanking and beating the crap out of a kid. When I was little, spanking was a few small pops on the butt with a sandal or a open hand.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788911)

The Ontario CAS says that spanking is an open-handed slap on the bottom that doesn't leave a mark. If you close your hand, use a tool, hit any other area of the body, or leave a mark at all; then it's child abuse. They actually mostly think the open-handed slap on the bottom is child abuse too, but they allow it as a concession to reactionary old gits like yourself.

Re:More evidence (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788949)

Actually, I am in my 20's.

Re:More evidence (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789265)

Waterboarding doesn't leave a mark.

Re:More evidence (1)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789581)

Waterboarding doesn't leave a mark.

Sorry, where exactly does waterboarding belong in this discussion? The AC was describing the Ontario CAS definition of 'spanking' and nothing more. Way to add unnecessary hyperbole to the conversation!

Re:More evidence (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789617)

It's a valid counterexample to invalidate the principle implied by the Onterio CAS definition. If behavior A differs from behavior B in only one respect, not leaving a mark, and based on this difference A is classified as not abusive while B is considered abusive this definition rests on the principle that not leaving a mark is sufficient to distinguish abusive from non-abusive behavior.

Re:More evidence (1)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789789)

It's a valid counterexample to invalidate the principle implied by the Onterio CAS definition. If behavior A differs from behavior B in only one respect, not leaving a mark, and based on this difference A is classified as not abusive while B is considered abusive this definition rests on the principle that not leaving a mark is sufficient to distinguish abusive from non-abusive behavior.

Well, sure, if you ignore the context. The Ontario definition concerns itself with the act of spanking, that being the application of force to the buttocks; AFAIK it is not an analysis of the relative merits of the application of force to minors.

This is the context of the discussion and I think throwing in an unrelated and highly-contentious subject like waterboarding is at best unhelpful and at worst, trollish.

Re:More evidence (0)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788939)

There is a difference between spanking and beating the crap out of a kid.

That's a common theory that has been debunked by improved evidence. All forms of physical aggression have the same effect on the child.

Re:More evidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789095)

All forms of physical aggression have the same effect on the child.

Yes. There is absolutely no difference between spanking with an open hand and bludgeoning a kid with a baseball bat till it faints.

Re:More evidence (1, Informative)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789143)

An infant doesn't differentiate between subtle difference in forms of caretaker aggression. Since parents usually start hitting their children around the age of 12 months and this is time period is more important in terms of long-term brain development that's what I was talking about. An older child processes it differently but by the time they reach that age it doesn't really matter because the long term damage has largely already been done.

Re:More evidence (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789323)

Which is what? Society has failed to collapse in spite of widespread use of spankings? I'd like to see data on whether successful people were or were not spanked in childhood. Whether or not it's traumatizing to a child is more or less irrelevant if that trauma shapes them into responsible adults IMO, especially when "trauma" is defined so broadly that it encompasses any negative association with a behavior. The whole point is to modify behavior. I'll concede that spanking is likely overused, and that I've probably used it when it wasn't necessary, but I still assert that it is sometimes the only valid option.

Re:More evidence (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789353)

Which is what? Society has failed to collapse in spite of widespread use of spankings?

You could answer that question if you watched the video series I linked in my original post.

If you want more historical context for the effects that different ways of treating children has on entire civilizations you could take a look at this book [psychohistory.com] .

Re:More evidence (3, Insightful)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789267)

That doesn't at all address the parent, you're just changing the subject.

Yes, there is a difference between spanking and beating the crap out of a kid. There's also a difference between beating the crap out of a kid and quadruple-amputating him for no sound medical reason, but that doesn't make beating the crap out of a kid okay.

Rather than speak to differences between thing X and an obviously worse thing Y, you should clarify why thing X is not a bad thing on its own merits.

Re:More evidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788943)

In the way that there is a big difference between a swat on the butt and a haymaker. One upsets the kid for a few minutes and they think "Boy, I'd better not do that again. My means business."

The other causes bruising, broken bones, lasting trauma, and emotional scars.

Unless, of course, you'd like the assert that the vast majority of all youths from prior to the those born in the last decade or so (when it because trendy to sling around terms like Child Abuse and dilute their true meaning) were all abused children?

Re:More evidence (0)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788995)

Unless, of course, you'd like the assert that the vast majority of all youths from prior to the those born in the last decade or so (when it because trendy to sling around terms like Child Abuse and dilute their true meaning) were all abused children?

Why don't you look at some of the evidence [psychohistory.com] regarding historical levels of child abuse and then come back and say whether or not this is an unreasonable statement.

Re:More evidence (5, Interesting)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789031)

Sorry, but that opinion is not healthy. Abuse is abuse, but on occasion a parent (assuming they are actually parenting) will have limits tested beyond any other punishment. Normally, I see your type of comment from one of two kinds of people.

1. Those that have no children so have no idea what parenting is.

2. Parents who's children are monsters that have no respect for any authority. Generally the parents are either ashamed or afraid to take the kids out in public, or the children are so poorly behaved that people don't want them in public.

Truth be told, I have spanked my son 2 times in his whole life. The first time he refused to stop what he was doing, refused any punishment (go to time out) and was doing something dangerous. The second time, he was a bit older. He refused punishment and took a swing at me.

Now unlike when I was a kid and just got the shit kicked out of me with a belt, I explained to my kid on both occasions why I had to punish him and how we could not repeat those mistakes. He learned valuable lessons on both occasions. In my opinion, he learned valuable lessons from those occasions. He is going to be an adult soon, and one day may ask for advice when it comes to parenting. I really hope he remembers how he was raised or talks to me before he talks to someone like you.

Re:More evidence (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789227)

Your kid learned to behave that way from you. You said it yourself about the environment you grew up in and that definitely affected you personality which in turn your kid picked up on.

Kids are 99% reflections of their caregivers.

I'm not saying that a spanking wasn't warranted but the situation would never have reached that point if they were raised differently.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789621)

if they were raised differently.

Except for the rebellious part where they do whatever they want to test authority and see what they can get away with.

Re:More evidence (1, Insightful)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789649)

Kids are 99% reflections of their caregivers.

[Citation needed], because I think you're just making stuff up.

Re:More evidence (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789231)

You admit that spanking is sometimes necessary. It shouldn't be the first thing that parents use but it should be an option and I would not call it abuse.

Re:More evidence (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789633)

Now unlike when I was a kid and just got the shit kicked out of me with a belt, I explained to my kid on both occasions why I had to punish him and how we could not repeat those mistakes. He learned valuable lessons on both occasions. In my opinion, he learned valuable lessons from those occasions. He is going to be an adult soon, and one day may ask for advice when it comes to parenting. I really hope he remembers how he was raised or talks to me before he talks to someone like you.

I'm sure you are a fair parent. However, you need to realize that you justified striking your child out of frustration with your inability to control him by effectively saying, "at least I wasn't as bad as my parent." In that statement, you condemned your parents' actions as abusive and affirmed that the lesson you learned from them was not to do what they did. What do you think your son is going to tell people when he emotionally abuses his kids? Or locks then in a basement room without food for days at a time? "At least I didn't beat them like my father beat me."

Both my parents' fathers were abusive alcoholics. My mother justified punching us and cutting us because "at least I'm not whipping you with a leather belt like my father." Her sister kept wooden paddles mounted on the wall with her kids names on them. And my father would refuse to let me eat breakfast, lunch and dinner until I could convince him I deserved to eat. After hours of any response I gave being met with "you're worthless" he'd send me to bed without any food at all that day, and tell me that "at least I'm not hitting you like my father hit me."

They all justify it by comparing themselves to their parents, while condemning their parents. Were they really better because when they hit their kids it didn't put a hole in the wall? Did they really learn anything? Where does this cycle end? I'm not saying its easy to raise kids. I'm saying you have a responsibility to recognize the difference between parenting and lashing out in frustration. If you do it, OK, it happens, it's human nature, apologize, explain and move on. But don't hide behind this claim that it's OK because you're better than your parents. If you need to justify yourself by comparing yourself to them, then you're really not any better, because they (and everyone who's ever been accused of child abuse) hid behind the same bullshit argument.

Re:More evidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789245)

Spanking is child abuse. IN what way is hitting a child 1/10 your weight to provoke a fear response that will traumatize future relationships not child abuse?

And that's not even getting into the fact that 'spanking' is a vague term.

Sounds like your solution would be, rather than attempting to correct the wrong behavior (as defined by the PARENT, not the GOVERNMENT) through negative stimuli, to enroll your child in the "Nanny State Special Needs Children Program". As clearly your child is somehow disabled if it cannot withstand corrective negative stimuli rewards for negative behaviors. Such a disabled child clearly warrants "special needs" and tax payer provided treatment.

This leads me to the question of whether you believe all animals are capable of child abuse, or just homo sapien sapiens. I've seen wild wolves correct the established social hierarchy and it can appear gruesome, to say the least. However, it's done for the good of the pack. An individual unaware of it's place in it's social hierarchy has a net negative impact on it's society.

"Life is pain." --Dread Pirate Roberts (Wesley)

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788795)

Unless it happens on school grounds. Then people turn a blind eye.

Re:More evidence (5, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788947)

Unless it happens on school grounds. Then people turn a blind eye.

Especially if other kids are doing it. Then the school administration gives their silent consent by doing nothing about it. Or worse, when it's physical abuse, they punish both the bully who attacked someone without provocation and the one who defended himself, just to add that element of mindfuck to existing injustice.

I am thankful to have had parents who told me I would not be in trouble for legitimate self-defense even if the school system was far less reasonable. What I found was that if you knock out one of them, the rest tend to leave you alone, for the nature of a bully is to find a doormat who will not fight back. I believe the school officials who have no doubt studied child psychology and the like are also aware of this and understand the injustice they facilitate. It is not mere bureaucratic ignorance but some kind of desired effect, a sort of unwritten portion of the curriculum.

People who can and will stand up for themselves, even when a price must be paid, are extremely undesirable to increasingly tyrannical governments. It's something they would discourage and it is not difficult to understand why. It's amazing how hard that is to accept for people who cannot comprehend that organizations, like individuals, can also be selfish and encourage only what is in their long-term interests.

Why would a school support tyrannical government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789255)

Forget the organizational level for a second, and consider on a human level. Officials working for schools and depend on them to put food on the table would have to understand that authoritarian regimes tend to target and eliminate education.

Re:Why would a school support tyrannical governmen (3, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789755)

Forget the organizational level for a second, and consider on a human level. Officials working for schools and depend on them to put food on the table would have to understand that authoritarian regimes tend to target and eliminate education.

Target and eliminate? No. They aren't that stupid (would that they were). What they do is pervert education and use it for the purpose of social engineering and indoctrination. Any transmission of knowledge or understanding is incidental and only to the extent necessary that the peons/students can perform useful labor, to form the bottom of the pyramid. They would also encourage conformity and permit various bullying and other abuses to ensure that the immaturities of childhood extend well into adulthood. What they absolutely would not do is teach serious, tough-minded critical thinking skills and raise up people who can educate themselves and do not need to depend on an instructor to tell them what is important to learn.

Sounds just like what we have now in the USA. These things happen slowly from the perspective of a human life, but quickly from the perspective of written history. Just consider how much the USA has changed in the last three generations. Then you can get a feel for what's going on, where it is headed, what the ultimate expression of it would be, and why it would be done that way.

The USA's tyranny is not going to be hard tyranny, the kind that waves a gun in your face and demands that you submit. It is going to be a soft tyranny, the kind that knows what's best for you, that you have learned to depend on. That, however, is just a matter of style, the means. The result is the same.

I have to ask, were you trolling or did you truly not understand that? What real tyrants understand is that the average person is so caught up in their day-to-day affairs that they tend not to be long-term thinkers. They are not skilled at seeing the path something is taking and projecting what the end of that path will be and that skill is not taught to them and they are not self-educators who would acquire it on their own. So if you want to implement tyranny, you do it in baby steps, each one carefully justified and defended by its ardent little apologists. After all, you don't want the terrorists to win, do you? After all, you want to protect the children, don't you? After all, you want the poor to be taken care of, don't you?

Re:More evidence (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788967)

Congratulations. You've removed 2 of the 10 billion or so possible people that can abuse a child.

Re:More evidence (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789207)

We don't take the child abuse from child services very seriously. Taking a child out of a good family for no good reason and stuffing them into a foster home is very traumatic.

When children are orphaned or must be removed from the home, splitting up siblings is very traumatic as well. Claims of "we TRY to keep them together but it's hard" are little better than "We TRY to feed them every other day or so but it's hard". If CPS were a family, CPS would take the children away.

Re:More evidence (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789241)

I agree with that. In typical government fashion CPS agencies tend to make any problem they claim to solve even worse.

What I'm talking about though is the fact that even today in 2012 it's hard to get a majority of adults in the US to agree that hitting a 12 month old infant is unambiguously wrong.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789415)

Jesus fucking christ. Thanks a lot for hijacking what could have been an interesting bunch of comments with this bullshit about what is or isn't child abuse.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789459)

Guilty conscience?

Re:More evidence (2)

Nukedoom (1776114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788963)

Ever since the 1960s, child abuse has been touted as the worst thing an individual could do to another individual--it's pretty high up there in America. I was under the impression it was being taken seriously.

Re:More evidence (2, Informative)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789065)

Even as recently as 2006 a majority of people still think it's acceptable to hit infants [pediatricsdigest.mobi] , so while some progress has been made it's hardly a solved problem.

Re:More evidence (1)

Nukedoom (1776114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789117)

I agree it's still a problem and we have to implement better measures against it. But as a whole, I'd say our society is well-versed in the problem. We know it's there. I believe it's being taken seriously. We just haven't found an effective solution against it. Does that make sense? I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm saying it's a complex problem--difficult to solve. I don't think it's due to a lack of awareness about it.

Re:More evidence (2)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789171)

It's a very difficult problem to solve because some forms of abuse are nearly universal. Therefore you can't talk about them objectively without provoking all the emotional defenses of guilt and justification that people harbor from being exposed to or performing those actions.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789089)

Not really, I am in a rural area practicing family medicine, a lot of parents do horrible things to their kids and get them back (especially if they are native). A lot of the time it gets blamed on substance abuse, the parents go in for "treatment" and come out and do the same damned things. In fact downloading a cartoon of a naked child seems to hold a worse punishment than doing meth and sexually abusing your child.

So much for... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788717)

So much for Stick and Stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Re:So much for... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788741)

How is this against that saying? This was testing physical abuse's relationship with possible genetic damage. Insult-based bullying was not included in this study.

Re:So much for... (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788813)

You would think they would have included other forms of childhood stress also.

A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (2)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788723)

Could the telomeres of chromosomes be lengthened? Would this theropy have the affect of causing the cell to handle longevity better?

Re:A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (2)

HomoErectusDied4U (1042552) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788761)

Yes, cells with lengthened telomeres are made by many people - they're called cancer cells.

Re:A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789063)

not all cancers are marked by long telomeres

Re:A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789819)

It's good he didn't claim ALL of them then.

Re:A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788771)

Longer telomeres would increase the risk of getting cancer at an earlier age.

Re:A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788799)

So... should we reward bullies for preventing cancer?

Re:A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788857)

No, we should bully people with cancer.

That'll reduce the cancer's cells telomeres and help cure their cancer. Bullying, the cure for cancer!

Re:A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788863)

No, we should reward them with cancer.

Re:A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789325)

longer the 'normal' yes? but what about telomeres that have been artificially shortened? Can the be returned to normal.

That's the question.

Re:A Candidate for Genetic Theropy? (3, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789357)

The ideal therapy would involve determining the probability of a dangerous mutation then resizing all the telomeres accordingly. You don't want excessively long telomeres (it's an intentional self-destruct mechanism for preventing a cell damaged over time from becoming malignant) just as you don't want telomeres being too short.

Cancer cells are not necessarily ones with over-long telomeres - typically what happens is that the cell's mechanism for shortening the telomeres breaks so that the cell can replicate forever. That doesn't, however, mean that it will or that the replication will occur in a timeframe that's of any significance. You'd have to have additional damage to cell mechanisms for that. If you can modify telomere length on-the-fly, the easiest one is to shorten all the telomeres in a person to something that'll only allow a few copies, then close to the deadline lengthen them just a little. That way, if a cell goes nuts and replicates excessively prior to the telomere system breaking, it'll suicide before it reaches the point of being able to replicate forever.

A better option, though considerably further into the future, would be to modify the repair mechanism in DNA to be rather more reliable. The better-able DNA is at fixing damage, the longer you can make the telomeres without it causing harm. As it stands, the mechanism has limited value. So much so that mtDNA has no such mechanism at all and can handle such a state just fine.

Of course, it helps that mitochondrial DNA is much shorter. The current nucleic DNA is a combination of the original nucleic DNA plus a lot of DNA from symbiotic organisms that became part of the cell and eventually became part of the nucleus, PLUS a great many retroviruses. Perhaps 8-10% of nucleic DNA is from fossil viruses (some still active) and according to recent studies perhaps another 40% is from other external sources.

It aught to be possible to take a fully-sequenced (and I MEAN fully-sequenced) human genome and optimize it. There'll be plenty of genes that belong to fossil lifeforms that serve no useful purpose as far as the human host and the microflora within the host are concerned. (That's over 5,500 lifeforms, so you've got to be very sure of these things.) Decrufting and compacting the human genome would likely reduce the risk of dangerous mutations. It may be that replacing the central DNA core with an XNA core would also help, but I saw nothing in that article about whether XNA molecules have the capacity to unwind properly and replicate, only that XNA had been constructed and was able to carry the same base pairs. This solution is in the FAR future (Star Trek timeframe at best) but there's nothing there that breaks any known rule. We can already do some of the steps, the main reason I'm putting it 500+ years in the future is that the problem space grows exponentially with the number of genes and even quantum computers aren't going to have sufficient power to handle a space that large for a very very long time. If ever. GM is unpredictable enough when adding/deleting single genes, but compacting DNA would involve wholesale rewrites of the genetic code.

As terrible as it is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788739)

Could it be that less genetically gifted children are more prone to be bullied?

Cause and effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788775)

I'm not trying to excuse this behavior, but did they account for the possibility that parents who give shorter telomwhatevers are more likely to abuse their children?

On a related note... (5, Informative)

HomoErectusDied4U (1042552) | more than 2 years ago | (#39788829)

A study (http://www.pnas.org/content/109/17/6490.full) was published in PNAS today showing how low-ranking monkeys have worse immune systems than high-ranking monkeys. (In monkey societies, 'high-ranking' is a euphemism for bully.) We've known for a long time that subordinate monkeys have worse health and live shorter lives in general than dominant monkeys, but this is one of the first studies that describe how this actually happens, genetically and physiologically.

Re:On a related note... (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789295)

We've known for a long time that subordinate monkeys have worse health and live shorter lives in general than dominant monkeys, but this is one of the first studies that describe how this actually happens, genetically and physiologically.

In human societies, we've known about this since the Industrial Revolution. -_- It's hardly a shocking finding that when you get the crap kicked out of you and live in constant fear, under stress, and working hard, you die sooner.

Re:On a related note... (4, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789403)

I've heard of this. But what I want to know is this. Are the shortening of the telomeres caused by...

A:) poor diet, exercise, and lack of nutrition.
or
B:) Stress hormones causing destruction of our own DNA.

If it's "B", I'm really fucked! I have so much stress these last 5 years that I've about had breakdown (life, economy, working long hours to keep my job..ect). I don't drink, smoke, or do anything physically abusive. But I feel like I've aged 10 years. Now multiply that by however many American's and Europeans are going through the same shit in the Great Depression part 2.

Re:On a related note... (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789437)

It's likely related. Telomeres don't shorten on their own. One (of several) environmentally-controlled systems in the cells is the epigenome - a string of proteins that controls how DNA is interpreted. It may well be that emotional stress alters the epigenome in areas affecting the immune system and telomeres.

(There's some evidence that highly stressed adult humans are also more susceptible to cancer, and cancer again is linked to both the immune system and the telomere system.)

I think we're going to find that a number of things we've taken for granted as the "right way" for a society to function will prove to be carcinogenic and/or physically toxic. It will be interesting to see if that results in societies changing or whether they deem subjecting carcinogens and toxins on others to be a fundamental freedom (or that people are expendable anyway, or that the science isn't agreed on by 107.3% of all toothpick manufacturers, etc).

Re:On a related note... (1)

HomoErectusDied4U (1042552) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789491)

An interesting point - just remember that what constitutes 'social stress' like bullying is absolutely not constant from society to society. In many cases, the "right way" in one society is carcinogenic and/or physically toxic in another. How's that for culture affecting evolution?

Re:On a related note... (2)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789545)

just remember that what constitutes 'social stress' like bullying is absolutely not constant from society to society.

Stress is an objective biological state that can be measured so it doesn't matter whether or not a particular culture endorses a certain behavior or not. Treatment that causes stress hormones to increase is stressful regardless of what their culture has to say about the desirability of said behavior.

Re:On a related note... (1)

HomoErectusDied4U (1042552) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789687)

Social stress is an objective biological state but what causes social stress is not.

Re:On a related note... (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789695)

How do you know?

Re:On a related note... (1)

HomoErectusDied4U (1042552) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789739)

I'm an evolutionary anthropologist. Google culture bound syndromes.

Great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788909)

One more thing for me to stress about. I'm going to die before everyone else too. That explains why I have grey hairs at 23.

Re:Great. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789773)

I had gray hairs at 16.

But nothing about my lifestyle is good for longevity anyways.

Bully is the new overused buzzword (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788959)

I know stories where a pretty, popular girl gets insulted by her pretty, popular friend - and takes her life, and everyone gets up in arms about "stopping bullying".

Only, that's not bullying. The way I see it, the extreme reaction (suicide), is due to this ridiculous importance the media puts on being popular in high school - "the most important time in your life".

The real victims of bullies are kids with physical or developmental problems. Maybe slightly autistic, maybe downs syndrome. The ones who don't fit in, and aren't cool. I haven't seen one sad major media article about these kids, and I have to believe they're still being called "retard", are assualted, and have rocks and such thrown at them every single day. And if they speak up, they'll just be told they need to deal with that - boys being boys and all the rest.

If they fight back, of course, they'll be suspended, arrested, or whatever it takes. After all, it's just not right to hurt the feelings of one of the pretty, popular children.

On topic - are you sure that bullying is causing genetic problems, or are they bullied precisely BECAUSE of those problems? Cause and effect, and all that shit.

And I wish I could stop hearing about bullying. It's being used to describe the wrong thing, the whining and complaining is coming from a sense of entitlement, not any real desire to treat the weird, awkward or different children as equal to the rest.

Not surprised (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39788971)

It's already known that stress can seem to accelerate aging. Ever see those pictures of presidents before a term, then after? 4 years passed for everybody else, but it looks like they aged 10 years.

Psyche and soma are not fully distinguishable.

Re:Not surprised (0)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789447)

That's not stress. It's the effects of the reality distortion field. Roosevelt had it installed in his second term.

Ridiculous! (1)

Troyusrex (2446430) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789203)

This just smells like bad science. Not that it's impossible, but a claim like this is pretty extreme and I'd like to see it replicated several times before believing it.

Re:Ridiculous! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789311)

Actually, it was pretty good science.
More study recommended? of course. I can't find anything in their methodological the would be bad. What did you find?

What's that, you haven't read the study? ah, STFU.

We've already seen similar. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789377)

We've already seen that childhood socioeconomic status can have an effect on adulthood DNA methylation which in turn changes gene expression and susceptibility to disease. You may read about it here: http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/10/18/ije.dyr147.short?rss=1

Doesn't it naturally follow then that how a child is treated is just as much a part of that environment of stress as whether or not they got food, healthcare and shelter regularly?

I see these as irrevocably linked.

Which leads me to wonder if the next natural step is a study comparing telomere length with regard to childhood and adulthood socioeconomic status or a study comparing childhood and adulthood methylation of a cohort in the same socioeconomic class, but differing exposure to violence?

That said, I wonder if you could elaborate on what you mean with this smelling like bad science?

Study fails to prove anything - bad headline (1)

thejuggler (610249) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789263)

FTFA: ...But the connection between telomere length and health and longevity is far from clear. "There's a lot of doubt in the field," notes Joao Passos, a cellular aging specialist at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom who was not involved in the research. "For as many studies that show telomere length as a good predictor of health outcomes, there are as many that find no relationship."...

Also, with a bit of work I bet they could find something else the test subjects had in common and thus be claimed to also be a cause for the shortening of Telomeres.

To link this to child abuse is a bit of a stretch based on what I can read in the articles. It would appear that stress has more to do with appearing to age faster than anything. Being abused is stressful. I know first hand.

You say that, yet you didn't cite the study. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39789423)

Instead you cited a quote by another in an article about the study. Now that may be fine for a minor point, but to say the entire study fails to prove anything based on one man's generalization, a man who didn't specifically say the same, is, respectfully, downright silly.

Especially when you follow it was contradictory anecdotal evidence from your own experience.

So everything they taught in school is wrong? (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789511)

Remember when they used to teach that humans exhale co2, inhale oxygen? And plants "inhale" CO2, and release oxygen? Turns out they take in oxygen [google.com] , too.

It used to be taught that environmental factors during an organism's lifetime (malnutrition, etc.) did not have an effect on the genetic heritage of offspring (you get a "clean slate" of DNA, so to speak). The opposing idea, that, e.g., giraffes are tall because their ancestors had to reach up to the tall leaves, and then they had long-necked kid giraffes was derided as Lamarckism [google.com] .

But here we are with a study that says environmental factors can leave a genetic mark.

Re:So everything they taught in school is wrong? (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#39789579)

But here we are with a study that says environmental factors can leave a genetic mark.

Is this the first time you've heard of epigenetics?

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