Posted in Uncategorized, tagged babies, child, early childhood, harvard, jack shonkoff, nicholas kristof, parent, parenting, pediatrician, poverty on January 9, 2012 |
5 Comments »
Nicholas Kristof wrote recently about a new ” ‘poverty statement’ from the premier association of pediatricians, based on two decades of scientific research.” It ties early childhood stress to persistent poverty.
In his NY Times column “A Poverty Solution that Starts with a Hug,” Kristof says of stressed children, “Toxic stress might arise from parental abuse of alcohol or drugs. … It might derive from chronic neglect — a child cries without being cuddled. Affection seems to defuse toxic stress — keep those hugs and lullabies coming! — suggesting that the stress emerges when a child senses persistent threats but no protector. … The crucial period seems to be from conception through early childhood. After that, the brain is less pliable and has trouble being remolded.
“ ‘You can modify behavior later, but you can’t rewire disrupted brain circuits,’ notes Jack P. Shonkoff, a Harvard pediatrician who has been a leader in this field. ‘We’re beginning to get a pretty compelling biological model of why kids who have experienced adversity have trouble learning.’ ”
Lest this is striking too dark a note for Suzanne’s Mom’s Blog, I hasten to point out that identifying a problem is the first step to fixing it. As a proponent of both hugs and poverty alleviation, I was really happy to see this addressed! And Kristof’s mention of the stress hormone cortisol jumped out at me because I hadn’t heard about it until I saw the research in yesterday’s post, which suggested that a pleasant phone conversation with Mom can reduce cortisol more effectively than instant messaging with Mom. (Or whoever reduces your stress.)
Read more. And do leave comments.
(I must look up that article from a few years ago about the Indian woman who stood on a street corner in New York and gave free hugs to long lines of people craving hugs.)
Read Full Post »
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged antipoverty, bridesmaid dresses, good families, Ingrid Munro, jamii bora, kenya, Nairobi, nicholas kristof, poor, poverty, prostitution, swahili, swede, sweden, swedish, wedding gowns on September 29, 2011 |
Leave a Comment »
Nicholas Kristof writes in the NY Times about a Kenyan called Jane, who was pushed out when her husband took a second wife and who found herself supporting her children through prostitution. That is, until she joined a remarkable nonprofit and made a better life for herself through sewing. She takes used wedding gowns and bridesmaid gowns and cuts them up to create several smaller dresses that she can sell.
Kristof writes that in 1999, Jane was fortunate to find “an antipoverty organization called Jamii Bora, which means ‘good families’ in Swahili. The group, founded by 50 street beggars with the help of a Swedish woman, Ingrid Munro, who still lives in Nairobi, became Kenya’s largest microfinance organization, with more than 300,000 members. But it also runs entrepreneurship training, a sobriety campaign to reduce alcoholism, and a housing program to help slum-dwellers move to the suburbs.” Jane became an entrepreneur, was able to get her children into good schools, and rejoiced to see them thriving.
But as Kristof explains, the lives of the working poor tend to remain one accident or illness away from upheaval. Jane’s daughter was hurt in a traffic accident and treatment for the injury sucked up all Jane’s savings, affecting her ability to pay for school.
Kristof likes to go beyond traditional reporting in his columns and give readers a way to help, so you might want to check his blog.
More on Jamii Bora:
Read Full Post »