From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.
Can abuse, violence and neglect during childhood affect a person’s physical and mental health later in life?
United States health officials say the answer to that question is “yes.”
Researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that childhood trauma can lead to many conditions and illnesses in adulthood.
Traumatic experiences can also lead to a lower quality of life.
Researchers found that such events can lead to fewer educational and employment opportunities in the future.
The director of the CDC is Robert Redfield. In a statement, he writes “we now know that adverse childhood experiences” greatly affect “an individual’s future health.”
CDC researchers have been involved in other studies on this subject. However, this new report is the agency’s first on the effects of this problem nationally.
For the new study, researchers looked at 144,000 people from 25 states. They asked these men and women about their health problems and lifestyle choices. The subjects also were asked about childhood memories and if they had experienced or witnessed traumatic events.
What is a traumatic childhood event?
The CDC defines childhood traumas as harmful events that someone experiences from birth to age 17. Such events can include:
- experiencing physical, verbal and/or sexual abuse
- experiencing severe neglect
- witnessing violence in the home
- having an unstable home life because of drug abuse, mental illness or having family members in prison
The CDC statement describes the major findings of the study. It found that adults with the highest levels of childhood trauma had an increased chance of:
- suffering long-term health problems such as heart disease, some forms of cancer, depression and diabetes
- smoking and heavy drinking
- being overweight or obese
- having problems getting a good education and employment opportunities.
Researchers say it is unclear if some traumatic experiences are more harmful to a person’s future than others. Also, health officials admit that the study does not prove that childhood trauma directly leads to future health disorders.
However, many researchers say there is a well-established link between childhood trauma and health problems later in life. And they are working to develop ways to reduce the effects of traumatic childhood events.
Doctor Dayna Long is with the University of California, San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital. She calls trauma “a public health crisis that everybody needs to start addressing.”
When asked about the CDC’s new report on childhood trauma, she calls it “critical.” The report, she says, gives important information about the usefulness of preventive measures.
Leading the CDC’s violence prevention program is Jim Mercy. He says this has become clear: The more harmful incidents a child suffers, the more likely their health suffers later. He adds that “there’s a lot of evidence connecting” childhood trauma and illness in adults.
Ways to lessen the negative effects
CDC researchers are working to better understand and prevent childhood trauma. They also say they are studying ways to lessen its negative effects. CDC officials say all parts of society can help.
Government, church and other community leaders can create effective social and economic programs for at-risk families. Schools can help to lessen the effects of childhood trauma and prevent trauma. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers can recognize at-risk children as well as signs of childhood trauma in adult patients. Employers can support family-friendly policies, such as paid days off for family emergencies.
Prevention is one part of the fix. Another part is intervention.
A positive role model in a child’s life can have a great healing effect. Role models might be family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, religious leaders or others in the community.
Showing care and concern for a traumatized child can possibly put that child on the road to a healthier future.
And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.
I’m Anna Matteo.
George Grow was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.
Quiz - Childhood Trauma May Lead to Adulthood Illness
Start the Quiz to find out
Words in This Story
neglect – n. to fail to take care of or to give attention to (someone or something)
trauma – n. a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems usually for a long time
unstable – adj. not emotionally or mentally healthy
opportunity – n. a good chance for advancement or progress
adverse – adj. bad or unfavorable : not good
negative – adj. harmful or bad : not wanted
positive – adj. good or useful
English in a Minute: Keep Some at Arm's Length
November 09, 2019
6 Minute English
Curbing our plastic addiction
EPISODE 181011 / 11 OCT 2018
This week's question:
The first synthetic plastic – that's plastic made entirely from man-made materials - was created over 100 years ago. Do you know what its brand name was? Was it…
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
the natural process of something being destroyed or breaking down into small particles
something that can decay naturally without harming anything
something that affects or involves our mind
disagreement between two opposing ideas
taking action to change something – it could be social or political change, or a change in our behaviour or attitude
a big push
people are strongly encouraged or persuaded to do something, usefully by force
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Hello, and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.
And hello, I'm Rob.
Today we're talking about plastic.
Yes, it's our addiction to plastic that is of concern because this material doesn't decay very quickly, so once we've used it, it hangs around for a very long time.
It is a problem – and decay, by the way, describes the natural process of something being destroyed or breaking down into small particles. We hear so much about the consequences of having too much waste plastic around, don't we?
Indeed. Not only does it cause a mess - wildlife, particularly marine animals, are at risk when they become entangled in plastic waste, or ingest it. It's an issue that needs tackling – or dealing with. And that's what we'll be discussing today and finding out what could be done to solve this plastic crisis.
OK, first, let's challenge you to answer a question about plastic, Rob. The first synthetic plastic – that's plastic made entirely from man-made materials - was created over 100 years ago. Do you know what its brand name was? Was it…
b) Lucite or
I'm no expert, so I'll say c) Formica.
Well, we'll reveal the answer at the end of the programme. Now let's talk more about plastic. This man-made substance is everywhere - from clothing to crisp packets, and bottles to buckets.
But the problem is that most of it isn't biodegradable – that's a word that describes something that can decay naturally without harming anything. Each year, 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced and 40% of that is single-use. So why don't we stop using it?
It's not that easy, Rob, and it's something Lucy Siegle, a BBC reporter and author, has been talking about. She was speaking in a discussion on the Costing the Earth programme on BBC Radio 4, and explained the issue we have with quitting plastic but also how our attitude is changing…
Lucy Siegle, BBC reporter and author
We have this weird psychological attachment to this material that's been around and it's like a push and pull. At the one time, we're so horrified by what we're seeing – the whales dying, the oceans vomiting plastic, beaming in from all over the world, and at the same time we're being told we can't live without it, so that creates a psychological dissonance –which I think is the barrier to behavioural change but I'm finding now awareness has peaked and it's going over into activism.
She mentioned the word psychological – that's something that affects or involves our mind – so here, psychological attachment means that in our mind we feel we have to use plastic – we're addicted.
But we also see the negative impact of plastic – like whales dying – and in our mind we're also thinking we must stop! This has created what Lucy says is a 'psychological dissonance' - dissonance means a disagreement between two opposing ideas – so we're having an argument in our head about the right thing to do – this is the 'push and pull' of thoughts she referred to.
And this dissonance has been the barrier to us trying to solve the plastic issue – but now we're starting to do something about it – we're taking action to reduce our plastic waste – we're turning to activism. That's taking action to change something – it could be social or political change, or a change in our behaviour or attitude.
Of course there has been a big push – that means people have been strongly encouraged – to recycle.
Maybe in an ideal world the best thing to do is go plastic-free – but that isn't easy, is it?
No, it isn't, and it's something Lucy Siegle spoke about. Getting rid of plastic in our lives is a gradual process. But where does she think we can make the biggest difference?
Lucy Siegle, BBC reporter and author
I really think that to concentrate on stopping the flow of plastics into your life is easier and more effective in the long term, than trying to go plastic-free from the outset. We are in the UK, a supermarket culture, so a lot of the tips and tricks to decreasing the flow of plastic are getting round supermarket culture.
She says we have a supermarket culture in the UK. Culture here describes a way of life – or a way that we generally behave – and in terms of food shopping, we tend to do that in supermarkets.
So, for example, customers can make a big difference by putting pressure on supermarkets to use less plastic packaging. It does seem that the future of plastic is in our hands – we need to be more careful about how and when we use it – and use our collective power to force change if it's needed.
But there's no doubt plastic is useful for many things so it will be a long time before it disappears altogether.
And earlier I asked you what was the name of the first synthetic plastic, invented over a 100 years ago. Was it…
b) Lucite or
And I said c) Formica. Was I right?
Formica is a type of hard plastic used for covering tables and working areas in kitchens – but it's not the oldest type. That was Bakelite.
I may have got that wrong but hopefully I'll have more success recapping some of today's vocabulary – starting with decay, which describes the natural process of something being destroyed or breaking down into small particles – which plastic takes a long time to do.
Next we had biodegradable – that's a word to describe something that can decay naturally without harming anything.
Then we had psychological – that's something that affects or involves your mind.
Next up, we had dissonance, which describes a disagreement between two opposing ideas.
And then we mentioned activism - that's taking action to change something. We also mentioned the phrase a big push which means people are strongly encouraged or persuaded to do something, usefully by force.
And finally we had culture. In our context of supermarket culture, it describes a way of life – or a way that we generally behave.
Thanks, Neil. Now, remember you can find more learning English programmes and materials on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. That's it for now but please join us next time for 6 Minute English. Goodbye.