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Authorities fail to recognize emotionally scarred brothers and sisters of child abuse victims
Date:3/5/2008

a first-grader, was locked in a nine-square-foot closet for eight weeks. She was fed only dry cereal, water and bread.

She could not lie down except in a very cramped position, the study relates. The abuse of rancine escalated into beatings with a wire antenna The children were encouraged to harm their sister.

When the therapist spoke to members of the family all the children agreed that John, the brother who had once taken pity on Francine and released her briefly, was the mothers chief assistant in tormenting his sister.

In the vast majority of cases, brothers and sisters of the abused child are returned to the home without treatment. In cases such as this, Francine would be treated, and John would be ignored.

Children such as John have been taught to be callous, even cruel, to their sibling, said Glass. Deliberately depriving children of the chance to love a brother or a sister is emotionally abusive. The message to these siblings is that it isnt safe to identify with their brother or sister.

Untreated, John may suffer an empathy deficit, the inability to feel empathy for the targeted child and possibly others, a hallmark characteristic of both abuse victims and perpetrators.

While researchers have documented the chaotic lives of untreated abuse victims, the authors could find little research documenting how child abuse affected the lives of brothers and sisters of scapegoated children.

The study offers a guide to identifying cases in which siblings of scapegoated children are at risk and urges therapists to identify and treat these collateral victims.

They also urge researchers to investigate whether the psychic damage to siblings plays out in the dysfunctional lives common to untreated abuse victims.


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Contact: Greg Raver-Lampman
Greg.Lampman@SignedCopy.com
757-668-7554
Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters
Source:Eurekalert

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