Child Abuse Seminars to Showcase Research

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

One of the nation's top advanced training programs for child abuse experts opens Wednesday in Eugene, with three days of seminars exploring the latest research into the social and economic costs of child abuse and sexual assault.

But the Western Regional Symposium on Child Abuse and Sexual Assault is not just for experts, and there will be plenty of controversy, organizers say.

Headlining this year's symposium is Dr. Vincent Felitti, the co-principal investigator in a study that is documenting links between adult diseases and adverse childhood experiences - such as sexual abuse, or losing a parent.

Felitti's work challenges the most powerful and entrenched interests in the fields of medicine and addiction treatment, says Dave Ziegler, executive director of SCAR/Jasper Mountain, the Lane County-based program for severely abused children that sponsors the symposium.

"He is saying we need to do it all differently, and here is why. He is just quietly showing the research," Ziegler says.

Felitti's study, co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, draws on the medical treatment and childhood histories of 17,421 adults at Kaiser Permanente's Department of Preventative Medicine in San Diego.

While the study data have not been fully analyzed, they already have established significant links between adverse childhood experiences and rates of smoking, heart disease, obesity, sexually transmitted disease, diabetes, depression and suicide attempts later in life.

The study shows adverse childhood experiences are more common than presently recognized by child abuse experts and more powerfully related to adult health issues a half century after the traumatic experience, according to articles published by Felitti.

For example, the study shows 22 percent of Kaiser patients had been sexually abused as children. The study found that a male patient with six adverse experiences is 46 times more likely to become an intravenous drug user as an adult. …