17-29 Segment 1: Sibling Abuse

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Have you ever fought with a sibling? Most of us have at some point, especially as kids. While some experts say sibling rivalry strengthens sibling relationships, others claim this can be harmful for a child’s well-being. In extreme cases, siblings torment their brothers or sisters to the point of psychological or physical abuse. This abuse can lead to psychological disorders throughout a child’s life.

 

Thirty to fifty percent of siblings face abuse in their lifetime. What line can parents determine which is plain sibling rivalry and which is actual abuse? PTSD trainer Nancy Kilgore suffered through fifteen years of severe emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from her own sister. She wrote the book Girl in the Water about her abuse and the psychological effects on her life. Kilgore says parents must not dismiss that it is normal for siblings to torment each other, and suggests parents step in should they see an issue arise.

 

Valparaiso University’s assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Mandy Morrill-Richards claims that parental attention is a key factor in sibling abuse. Typically, sibling abuse occurs out of the watch of parents, usually when they leave the children home alone. Often times the oldest child takes care of their siblings, and begins to abuse their younger siblings due to the lack of supervision. While parents cannot keep watch over their children 24/7, these experts suggest tackling the problem before it becomes even larger or more harmful for the children. This involves weekly open communication like meetings and paying attention to any warning signs. In order to prevent self-doubt, guilt, shame, and possibly even PTSD, parents need to supervise their children, especially if they begin to harm one another.

Read the entire transcript here. 

Guests:

  • Dr. John Caffaro, Distinguished Professor, Alliant International University
  • Nancy Kilgore, PTSD trainer, abuse survivor and author, Girl in the Water
  • Dr. Mandy Morrill-Richards, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Valparaiso University

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17-29 Segment 2: Teeth and the Struggle for Oral Equality

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Many of us take our smiles for granted. Mary Otto, author of Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality and the Struggle for Oral Health in America, claims that ⅓ of low-income Americans refuse to smile because they are embarrassed by their teeth. Our teeth, whether we realize it or not, have become symbols of status. Have you ever looked at a photo of a celebrity and admired their teeth? Beautiful, white, straight teeth definitely come with a cost, and many underprivileged people find it too expensive.

 

Dr. Cheryl Watson-Lowry, an inner-city Chicago dentist, says that because people do not have proper dental care, they let their dental problems escalate to the point of sending themselves to the Emergency Room. A study in 2012 found that people went to the Emergency Room for dental pain every 15 seconds, costing taxpayers at the time $750 per visit. Watson-Lowry states that Emergency Rooms cannot provide the proper care for dental work. She hopes the Dental Health Care Act of 2017 will generate community dental health coordinators so those who need dental care can get it.

 

Guests:

  • Mary Otto, author, Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality and the Struggle for Oral Health in America
  • Dr. Cheryl Watson-Lowry, inner city Chicago dentist

Links for more information:

17-28 Segment 1: Our Obesity Obsession: Does Science Support It?

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The cultural bias against obesity is often justified on health grounds. But recent studies show that people classified in the “overweight” BMI category actually have less mortality than normal weight people. Experts discuss how culture drives our obsession with weight and what science really has to say about it.

Read the entire transcript here:

Guests:

  • Harriet Brown, Associate Professor of Magazine Journalism, Newhouse School of Public Communication, Syracuse University and author, Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession With Weight and What We Can Do About It
  • Dr. Carl Lavie, Medical Director of Preventive Cardiology, John Ochsner Heart & Vascular Institute, New Orleans and author, The Obesity Paradox: When Thinner Means Sicker and Heavier Means Healthier

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17-26 Segment 2: Children and Social Anxiety


 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, fifteen million Americans or 13% suffer from social anxiety. It is the most common form of anxiety and the fourth most common mental illness. Adolescence is typically where experts find the most onset of this disorder.

The opinions of peers can negatively affect any adolescent into thinking they do not belong. Some young adults and teenagers become so influenced by the opinions of others they develop social anxiety. According to Jennifer Shannon, co-founder of Santa Rose Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, social anxiety is an anxiety disorder that influences a person’s functioning. Those with social anxiety avoid social situations like class or parties all together because they perceive threats of their environment. These threats involve worrying about people looking at you or judging you. Adolescents with social anxiety often create excuses to avoid school or gatherings because their fear of judgement.

Although Jennifer Shannon is an expert in this field, she could not find any resources for her own daughter Rose, so she decided to take matters in her own hands. She wrote the books  The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens and The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens as a guide for teens as well as their parents to cope and eventually overcome the disorder. On the bright side, Shannon claims this disease is completely treatable.

Jennifer Shannon runs a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy treatment for patients like her daughter with the hopes of curbing their social anxiety. She uses a method she calls “target practice” to allow patients to slowly face their fears in social situations. Shannon focuses on realistic social goals like smiling and asking questions as a first step to making patients feel more comfortable socializing with their peers. She notes that parents need to look out for consistent patterns in their children like missing school or social functions. If left untreated, symptoms can get worse, however, if parents catch it, they can prevent or help their children beat a disorder.

 

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Guest:

  • Jennifer Shannon, co-founder, Santa Rosa Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Santa Rosa, CA and author, The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens and The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens

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17-25 Segment 2: Household Chemicals

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We live in a world filled with synthetic chemicals, and Americans are exposed to upwards of 100 chemicals each day. Whether it be in our clothing, our electronics, or the toys our children play with, chemicals are ever-present and not all are safe. According to Ken Guiser, Professor of Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and author of Chemicals Without Harm: Policies for a Sustainable World, we are often exposed to dangerous chemicals, although usually only to a very low amount. Yet we are still at risk when those chemicals become present in our homes, schools and workplaces.

It’s a common assumption among consumers that the government regulates and prohibits all dangerous or unusable chemicals, but Guiser says that’s not the case. He explains, “The way our market works, products come on to the market; the government does not test those products. They are maybe tested by product manufacturers, but those test results are often proprietary; we don’t know what they are. We often don’t even know what the chemicals are in products. The government just doesn’t have the capacity or the authority to really test hundreds and hundreds of chemicals.” Due to our free market economy, the government is not able to place many restrictions on companies and businesses, including those that would typically call for product testing. The Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) has introduced measures in the past to limit how many chemicals are leaked into our air and water, but the industry is expected to police itself on the manufacturing of products.

Guiser blames the presence of these unsafe products on a lack of information; no one has really done the research. There are approximately 87,000 chemicals in production in the United States, but of the 2,300 that the EPA conducted research on, only 138 have ever received full testing.

Outside of the United States, the reality is quite different. The European Union has released a list of 2,000 chemicals which they consider to be of concern. Guiser advises that following a European approach would be highly beneficial, and that products supplied to both Europe and the U.S. have become safer due to higher E.U. standards.

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Guest:

  • Ken Geiser, Emeritus Professor of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and author, Chemicals Without Harm: Policies for a Sustainable World

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17-24 Segment 1: Only Children and Their Parents

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Only children, also known as “onlies,” have sometimes been labeled as the spoiled and selfish children of society. In studies from the 1980’s, being an only child was likened to having a disease. Beth Apone Salamon, Director of Communications & Television at Rutgers University, and Lauren Sandler, author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One, approach the concept of only children in different ways. Salamon voices her concern that once her parents are gone, she won’t have anyone to share family memories with. In contrast, Sandler loves being an only child as well as raising an only child: “We’re just selfish people raising selfish children.” Dr. Susan Newman, psychologist and author of Parenting an Only Child, points out that it makes sense that many onlies thrive more than children with siblings do, because the attention and time allotted by parents to their one child is more concentrated than if they were to divide these things among multiple children. Newman also talks about the importance of the “sibling substitute,” a friend, cousin, or family member with whom the only child can relate to and become comfortable with. By building relationships with “sibling substitutes,” onlies are able to connect with people other than their parents, which has proved beneficial in the long run. Additional studies have debunked myths about only children, concluding that the number of siblings a person has has little impact on his or her personality and life.

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Guests:

  • Beth Apone Salamon, Director of Communications & Television, School of Continuing Studies, Rutgers University and an only child
  • Lauren Sandler, only child, mother of an only child and author, One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One
  • Dr. Susan Newman, psychologist, contributor to Psychology Today magazine and author, Parenting an Only Child

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17-24 Segment 2: The Sense of Touch

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If asked, most people are willing to give up their sense of touch. Yet of the five senses in the human body, touch has proven to be incredibly important. According to Dr. David Linden, Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, touch is connected to emotion via our nervous system. The way humans feel and react to physical touch has an effect on everything from personality to digestive system functionality. Dr. Linden says, “The touches we share with those we love make the sense of touch much more important than we know.” Without a sense of touch, individuals are much more susceptible to health issues, as they may not feel pain or temperature and receive great injury. Additionally, touch is perceived as essential to newborns and its absence is noticeable. Dr. Linden shares a story about children in an understaffed orphanage in Romania that grew up to have neuropsychiatric issues as a result of not being held and cuddled as infants. Although the sense of touch is not commonly understood as vital to our wellbeing, both the lack of physical touch from others and our own sense of feeling may prove fatal in the end.

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Guest:

Dr. David Linden, Professor of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author, Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind

Links for more information:

davidlinden.org