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Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.

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Putting an End to Human Trafficking


Up to 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade and 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally every year, according to statistics published by the International Labour Organization, and the number is expected to increase in the years to come, even surpassing the illegal sale of arms.

Human trafficking is slavery. Perpetrators force the victims into sexual exploitation, organ donation, labor, and sometimes a combination of more than one. According to expert Megan Helton, “the current approaches to combat human trafficking could be greatly improved if law enforcement and health care providers worked together to identify victims and prosecute traffickers.” Most commonly, the direct victims of human trafficking are women and children. Though men also suffer as whole families and communities are disrupted and disturbed by the victims’ disappearances.

Traffickers tend to look for victims who are vulnerable and often in poverty stricken areas–people they suppose could go missing without too many people asking questions–but not always. Sometimes they hold false auditions or tryouts for modeling gigs in hopes of luring unsuspecting adolescent girls. “Often the traffickers will lure the women and children into the enterprise with false promises and hope for stable work, a steady income, and decent wages” Helton writes. Once kidnapped, human trafficking victims become sex slaves in forced laborers in settings as diverse as a neighbor’s home or a brothel in a foreign country. They can also be sold into marriage.

In additon to poor sexual health due to STDs and the emotional and psychological strain of their lives, it’s likely these victims will also suffer from substance addiction. Especially in the sex trade, sex traffickers often forcer their victims into addiction to have further control over them.

According to, some indications that a person may be a victim of human trafficking include (especially in the case of women and children):

  • Appearing malnourished
  • Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse
  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement
  • Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction
  • Lacking official identification documents
  • Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions
  • Working excessively long hours
  • Living at place of employment
  • Poor physical or dental health
  • Tattoos/ branding on the neck and/or lower back
  • Untreated sexually transmitted diseases
  • Small children serving in a family restaurant
  • Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment – barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows
  • Not allowing people to go into public alone, or speak for themselves

What can be done?

To help combat human trafficking, Congress has instituted The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 which targets sex trade and slavery and includes federal programs designed to help prevent violence against women. Operation underground RailRoad works across the globe and has helped many victims to be protected and saved; and many traffickers have been arrested.

Education is the best tool to put to an end to human trafficking. Law enforcement professionals, medical practitioners and educators should receive training to identify evidence of human trafficking in their communities, hospitals and classrooms.

The everyday person can use the library and even the internet browser on a cell phone to learn more about human trafficking prevention and helping the victims.

Make the committment today to

Human trafficking is a sensitive subject, but we need to bring awareness to it. It affects families and children in all walks of life, all over the world–even in the United States.

For more information:
National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 1(888) 373-7888
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Human Relationships

This is the fifth blog in a series titled, “The Core Concepts of Development.” Click to view the previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.


Human relationships, and the effects of relationships on relationships, are the building blocks of healthy development.  (Wittmer & Petersen 2010).

Core concept 5 of Human Development states, “From the moment of conception to the finality of death, intimate and caring relationships are the fundamental mediators of successful human adaptation.” (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000)

British psychologist John Bowlby described attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”  There are many that think a parent is spoiling a baby when they pick it up each time it cries.  But newborn babies cry because they have basic needs that should be met.  

When a parent is available and reliable, a child develops a sense of trust in the world.  

The child can then rely on the caregiver as a secure base from which to explore the world.  That security and confidence will eventually result in less crying and more independence.  

A child will have a difficult time making appropriate attachments and building crucial relationships if they do not begin their life with a strong, healthy parent-child attachment in infancy.  This attachment is usually with the mother but can be any loving caregiver.  This first attachment gives them the example to follow and gives them the courage to branch out and make other attachments.  These relationships that are formed help a child to develop in a healthy, normal, and positive way.  

Humans need love.  Humans need other people.  Humans need a purpose in life, and loving relationships are one of the greatest purposes.

As parents, grandparents, siblings, or friends, we have a responsibility to look out for each other, to lift others through our friendships and relationships, and to love one another.

Bowlby J. (1969). Attachment. Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Loss. New York: Basic Books.

Shonkoff, Jack P.,Phillips, Deborah A., Committee, O. I. T. S. O. (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods : The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC, USA: National Academies Press. p. 27.  Retrieved from

Wittmer, D.S. & Petersen S.H. (2010) Core concepts of prenatal, infant, and toddler development. Retrieved from: concepts-prenatal-infant-toddler/

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Active Exploration Promotes Child Development

This is the fourth blog in a series titled, “The Core Concepts of Development.” Click here for part 1, click here for part 2, and click here for part 3.


Children are motivated to learn about themselves, others, and the world in which they live (Wittmer & Petersen 2010).

Have you ever watched a newborn infant learn? They accidentally pass their hand in front of their face and you can just see the look of surprise and imagine what they might be thinking. “What was that? Where did it go? When is it coming back? Oh, there it is again!” Of course, at that age, they haven’t learned much language yet, but that is what they would say if they could verbalize. Give them a few weeks and they will have learned to hold their hand in front of their face and can watch as they wiggle their fingers. They are so easily fascinated (says the parent who watches by the hour, totally fascinated.)

Babies have a great desire to learn and they are always on the move. They want to talk and walk, to make things shake, rattle, and roll. They want to do things for themselves. They want to copy what they see others doing. They are curious about everything and even set goals for themselves, such as getting across the floor to see how that dog food tastes. They develop strategies and test them out, finding what works best to accomplish those goals.

Our children also look to us to give them feedback and encouragement. They will look at us to see us clap and smile, and then learn to do so in return. They love to copy the expressions that they see and the sounds that they hear. They count on us to be there to keep them safe as they explore this big new world. As they advance through each stage, they constantly turn as if to say, “Look at me! I can do it myself!” Wow! You certainly can. Good for you!

We don’t have to buy expensive toys or the latest gadgets to help our children to learn.

We just have to

  • provide them with a few basic toys and household items let them explore; and
  • read to them every day which helps strengthen your relationship with your child, helps them with basic language skills and helps prepare them for academic success.

Wittmer, D.S. & Petersen S.H. (2010) Core concepts of prenatal, infant, and toddler development. Retrieved from: prenatal-infant- toddler/


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Learning Self-Regulation

This is the third blog in a series titled, “The Core Concepts of Development.” Click here for part 1 and click here for part 2.


The ability to self-regulate is the backdrop of capabilities that allow the child to concentrate on a task, focus on another person’s feedback in a social situation, and control emotions in positive ways (Bronson, 2000a, 2000b; Kopp, 2000).

Just what is self-regulation?

As an infant grows, they begin to recognize things about themselves – when they are sleepy, when they are hungry, when they need to go to the bathroom, or when something makes them upset.  Children begin to learn independence and also to learn to self-regulate or control their physical bodies, as well as their thoughts and emotions.    

As a parent, I was very excited to watch my children do many “firsts” – first steps, first time feeding themselves, first time using the bathroom, and first words.  These are examples of physical growth and regulation.  I never thought much about the fact that they were also learning emotional growth and regulation.  

Children need to learn

  • to wait,
  • to think before acting,
  • to recognize consequences,
  • to think of the needs of others and cooperate with others, and
  • to model appropriate social behavior.  

Children who do not self-regulate are difficult to be around.

 They whine, demand & insist on getting their own wayThey refuse to share, or take turns, or listen to advice from anyone.  They have a difficult time finding or  and maintaining friends. They are impulsive, acting without thinking, and frequently causing harm to themselves or others because they lack the ability to see identify cause and effect. Control is also related to obesity. For some children, a lack of self-control can manifest itself as over-eating and evetually obesity. However, obesity can also be the result of a child exercising self-control in an unhealthy way. For example, abused children (especialy sexually abused children) will often put on weight to make themselves appear less attractive or because eating is the only thing they think they can control. In the latter case, this type of self-control can also lead to anorexia or bulimia because the child may feel, “Since I can’t control anything else in my life or how I’m treated, at least I can control what and how much I eat.”

Advances in motor skills make it possible for preschoolers to feed themselves when they are hungry and put on a sweater when they are cold.  Cognitive and emotional maturity signals a greater ability to delay gratification, to sit still and read a book, and to cope with the stresses of separation or loss.  Development may be viewed as the child’s ability to function more independently in personal and social contexts (Bronson, 2000; Kopp, 2000; Sameroff, 1989; Sroufe and Waters, 1977).  

As children mature, their capacity to exert their own autonomous control is essential and must be directed and encouraged by parents so self-control can be developed in a healthful manner.

In other words, do what you can as parents to – help your child to grow up!


For more information:

Shonkoff, J. P., Phillips, D. A., & National Research Council (U.S.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early child development. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.

Wittmer, D.S. & Petersen S.H. (2010) Core concepts of prenatal, infant, and toddler development. Retrieved from: concepts-prenatal-infant-toddler/


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The Influence of Culture

This is the second blog in a series titled, “The Core Concepts of Development.” Click here for part 1.


All families and cultures have different backgrounds, experiences, dreams for their children, habits, and customs that guide their thinking about raising children (Coll & Magnuson, 2000).

I was raised in a military family.  Punctuality was important and a sign of respect for other’s time.  In this culture, to be late was rude.  I recently had a conversation with a Samoan friend of mine.  I mentioned how different it was to be around her family and friends, because they were always starting meetings, dinners, or parties late.  She looked at me in surprise and said that it would be rude to start before everyone was there.  I had never thought about that concept before.  In her culture, punctuality meant nothing.  Waiting for everyone showed respect and politeness.  

We each have different cultures we are raised in, and not just in ethnic cultures.

True, there is an American culture, a European culture, Hispanic or Polynesian cultures, or any number of different races and countries that affect our beliefs and social norms.  But there are cultures such as the military culture that I was raised in.  There are families that are great believers in physical activities and sports, families that are involved in music, drama, or art.  There are different religious cultures, or atheist cultures.  There are families with a culture and background of abusive behaviors, and those with great love and support.  

Each family develops a culture that is unique to them.

As parents, we can apply this knowledge in several ways.  

  • For one, we can teach our children to be open-minded and accepting of the beliefs and cultures of other families by teaching our children to love and respect each person for who they are.
  • We can also examine our own family cultures and see if they need some improvement.  
    • Were you raised in a family where parents were over-bearing and possibly abusive?  Are you passing on that culture?
    • Are you teaching your children to work and be self-sufficient or are you raising them in a culture of entitlement?  
    • Are you a family that listens and discusses?  
    • We might need to break from old habits.

Another area of culture is child-raising and parenting.  Is one parent going to stay at home to raise the children as in a traditional culture? Who will work?  Who will do which household chores?  Who will change the diapers?  When is bedtime?  When is curfew?  Each of the spouses will bring the cultures they were raised with to the table when they decide (and if they decide) to have a family.  

Remember that culture is not usually a matter of right and wrong, just a blending of different styles and an appreciation of what each culture has to offer.   

Garcia, C., & Magnuson, K. (2000). Cultural influences on child development: Are we ready for a paradigm shift? Cultural Processes in Child Development: The Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology, chapter 1. p.21.  Psychology Press, New York & London (2000).

Wittmer, D.S. & Petersen S.H. (2010) Core concepts of prenatal, infant, and toddler development. Retrieved from: concepts-prenatal-infant-toddler/

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Nature vs. Nurture

This is the first blog in a series titled, “The Core Concepts of Development.”


Both nature (genetic influences) and nurture (influences of environment, experience, and education) affect children’s development.

When my first child, David, was born, I was determined to be the perfect parent.  David was a very calm and obedient child.  As I would sit in church each Sunday, I would congratulate myself on what a great job my spouse and I were doing as parents.  Our second child, Mark would sit still, fold his arms, and quietly look at books, at 15 months old.  He was the model of reverence, and I silently judged my neighbors while patting myself on the back.  And then Scott, our third child, was born.  He could not have been more different than his brothers.  He was a bundle of energy, constantly on the go, making me chase him everywhere.  In church, he was climbing the pews, throwing the books, talking, laughing, screaming, and trying to run up and down the aisles.  I had to offer silent apologies to all those parents that I had previously looked down on. As I observed my boys, I wondered what I had done differently as a parent to have children who acted so differently.  The answer was that I had done nothing differently.  They came to me with those personalities.  This was their inherent nature.

As any parent of two or more children knows, those little bundles of joy each come with a unique personality.

Each one has talents and attributes all their own.  The three most commonly studied types are the “easy” child, the “slow-to-warm-up” child, and the “difficult” child.   As you can guess by the names, some children seem to be a breeze to raise, seldom giving their parents problems, easily socializing or trying new experiences.  Some are more timid, shy with strangers, quieter, and even afraid to attempt anything new.  They have to be coaxed a little, having a safe anchor nearby.  And then there are the difficult ones, colicky and fussy, crying easily, stubborn, angry, and constantly refusing to do as they are instructed.  So where does nurture fit in?

 Our parenting styles need to adapt to each child.

 We need to be aware of the environment and how it affects a child, as well as the way we introduce them to new experiences. This is often referred to as “goodness of fit.”  Understanding the concept of goodness of fit can help us decide whether some changes may be needed so there is a better match between the child and his environment.  For instance, my second child really needed to be in bed by 8 pm.  He even asked me if he could go to bed.  He was tired then, and would be cranky and impossible to bear without the needed sleep. He would wake up at about 5 or 6 am, ready and rarin’ to go.  However, my youngest daughter was a night owl.  She would not wind down until midnight and sleep until 10 or 11 the next morning.  Putting her to bed early was useless because she would just scream and cry about having to go to bed when she was wide awake.  Making adjustments to try and fit their sleep schedules was a challenge, but through a little compromising and adding or taking away naps, we were able to make it work.  

By offering challenges to active children, gently coaxing shy children, and having multiple distractions ready for difficult children, we can help each child adapt and learn to fit into society.   

Wittmer, D.S. & Petersen S.H. (2010) Core concepts of prenatal, infant, and toddler development. Retrieved from: concepts-prenatal-infant-toddler/

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Transitioning to Parenthood


When couples become parents, marital satisfaction often declines (1)(2). Research has found several factors that influence this transition’s outcome. For one, a baby brings more household responsibilities and a new area of childcare responsibilities. “It is not the unequal division of labor, but rather the perceived fairness of the division that is most strongly associated with relationship satisfaction” (2)(1). For two, spousal support is also a factor. Predictive of marital satisfaction, spousal support is especially significant “during the transition to parenthood as couples consider their spouses a primary source of support” (2). When couples have similar parenting attitudes and expectations of what it will be like once they are parents and between what they actually experience, marital satisfaction is greater (1).

Couples co-parenting is an extension of their “marital relationship to include interactions centered on their child.” Higher competitive co-parenting is related to a decline in fathers’ marital satisfaction and when mothers support of their spouses’ parenting decreased, so does their marital quality (3). “A lack of preparedness for the baby and the strain and conflict created by role negotiation” can lead to a decrease in marital satisfaction; and “when there are discrepancies between women’s expectations for their partners and their actual post-birth experiences, women exhibit poorer adjustment to parenthood and lower levels of marital satisfaction” (1).

So what can couples do?

  • Be deliberate when negotiating the roles of being new parents (1)
    • Decide who will take care of what household tasks. Take time to reevaluate how things are going as family circumstances change (4).
    • Share childcare responsibilities. Allow the father to spend as much time caring for the baby as he can. Discuss your parenting values and concerns together (4).
  • Make sure you communicate clearly with one another. Let your spouse know your needs and feelings and strive to work together to make things better for one another (4).
  • Balance work and parenting (4).
  • Work on developing a strong, stable marital relationship before children are born.

In short, try to keep realistic expectations for yourself and your spouse before and after the baby arrives (1); and always do your best to support one another in your parenting efforts (2) (3).

For more information see:

1 Adamsons, K. (2013). Predictors of relationship quality during the transition to parenthood. Journal of Reproductive & Infant Psychology, 31(2), 160-171. doi:10.1080/02646838.2013.791919

2 Chong, A., & Mickelson, K. D. (2016). Perceived fairness and relationship satisfaction during the transition to parenthood. Journal of Family Issues, 37(1), 3-28 26p. doi:10.1177/0192513X13516764

3 Christopher, C., Umemura, T., Mann, T., Jacobvitz, D., & Hazen, N. (2015). Marital quality over the transition to parenthood as a predictor of coparenting. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 24(12), 3636-3651. doi:10.1007/s10826-015-0172-0

4 Berk, Laura (2010). Infants, Children, and Adolescents, 7th ed. Boston, MA.

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What Children Really Need – Part 3

This is part three to the posts explaining what children really need. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2.


Each child has the right to a posterity.

“It is natural for each person to want to create progeny and to live into the future through them. This is each child’s destiny. Propaganda against the building of families is a direct assault on this destiny.”

Each child has the right to faith.

“Religious families better protect their children physically and psychologically when compared to families which reject religious faith.” Research shows that religious parents are more likely to use warmth and express emotional work with their children; and they are also more likely to protect their teens from premarital sex. For these reasons and more we should advocate to protect the freedom to exercise religion.

Families of the same religious faith tend to live near each other in the same neighborhoods. Neighborhoods centered around a religious community often promote the family unit as the cornerstone of a healthy and balanced society. For example, in one study, neighborhoods with a higher number of Christians had lower rates of divorce, abortion, and children born out of wedlock. Even the non-Christians living with a higher population of Christians were less likely to divorce, have an abortion, or have a child out of wedlock. Helping create good, protective neighborhoods, promotes healthy child development. 

Each child has the right to innocence.

By innocence Carlson means “the opportunity to have a true childhood, the chance to mature normally in terms of physical, emotional, and moral development.” There are many threats to children’s innocence these days: war, child labor, media, and ideologically-driven education. The best way to protect children’s innocence is to have them live with their biological parents who are married to one another.

Each child has the right to a tradition.

Tradition ties the living to those who have passed on. It helps individuals remember the life lessons and sacrifice that their ancestors have gone through for them. It gives children emotional stability that helps them survive. Helping preserve traditions, especially during times of distress, helps families stick together and be able to rebuild their homes and families after the struggle has passed.

As individuals, families, communities, and governments choose to help more children receive these rights they divinely deserve, children will be better protected, have a better chance at reaching their optimal development, and be better able to improve their world and provide healthier environments for their own children.

For the full article see:

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What Children Really Need – Part 2

This is part two to the post explaining what children really need (see part 1 here). Below are the next three rights Carlson says children deserve.

Each child has the right to a home built on marriage.


Research has come to the conclusion that

“children are most likely to be healthy, happy, well-behaved, and responsible; most likely to succeed in school and in life; and least likely to be promiscuous, delinquent, or users of alcohol and illegal drugs if they live with their two natural parents who, in turn, are lawfully married.”

A good home is one that puts children at the center of daily life and allows them to help with the household work, where parents are the “prime educators” and start teaching moral values early on, and it allows for appropriate autonomy and authority. Marriage brings a man and a woman together that each bring complementary gifts to the union. One study found that the bonds wives formed with one another in a neighborhood reduced the rate of violent crime. Fathers in the homes of the same neighborhoods were found to protect against out-of-wedlock births. So “a husband and a wife complement each other; each marital partner brings unique talents to the building of a home, so that it becomes greater than the sum of its parts.”

Each child has the right to siblings.

Image result for kids siblings parentscousins grandparents

The growing trend in developed nations is to only have one child.

Siblings are “critically important in shaping for the good the moral and psychological character of children.”

Those who are an only child have been found to be more likely to disrupt the classroom and display more behavior problems in learning, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and anxiety. Sibling relationships are also the longest blood relationship that people can experience. These attachments keep growing over the years if they are given the opportunity to occur through the birth of a sibling.

Each child has the right to ancestors.

Image result for kids siblings parents cousins grandparents

Children who know about their ancestors have a greater sense of “emotional wholeness and personal security.” It also helps them develop a sense of purpose and meaning to life if they are connected to their ancestors, their living family, and their future descendants. Children love to hear and share family stories, so we should tell our children stories from our own past and stories from our ancestors’ lives.

Though research supports that children benefit from siblings, married parents and a connection to extended family, parents sometimes have contrary views.

What do you think about the “rights” of children listed above?

For the full article see:

Images from:!img/httpImage/babies-getty-jpg.jpg,,,d.eWE&psig=AFQjCNHgsVE7S5Smkys5s5Hqg38OPYCvJQ&ust=1488897794733006

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What Children Really Need – Part 1

best-parent-is-both-parents-billboardAllan Carlson has been on the quest to answer the question “How can we protect children in our time?” He has researched in all the different disciplines: sociology, psychology, medicine, child development, and history.

To answer this question, he wrote “What Children Really Need- Another Way to Look at Children’s Rights,” in which he outlines ten articles that state what all children should have the right to. Here are the first two rights children deserve.

1. Each child has the right to a mother.

Though there are many arguments that the differences between genders are insignificant, only women are able to carry a fetus to birth. “Only women can develop the unique hormonal bonds between mother and child mediated by that amazing organ, the placenta… only women can provide that fountain of nurture, giving human babies exactly the nutrition they need when they need it: namely, breast milk.”

Mothers who are devoted and available have children who are less lonely, have less depression, less anxiety, higher self-esteem and more resiliency. The world sees women mainly as an economic value, though, as more women are going to work outside of the home.

We should all “treat motherhood as the most important of vocations… to ensure that the mother-child bond is given priority over short-term economic needs.”

2. Each child has the right to a father.

Fathers “are necessary to the healthy growth of children… A father’s involvement in a child’s life significantly influences three outcomes: economic and educational attainment and avoidance of delinquency.” Fathers are not seen as a priority though as governments provide incentives for out-of-wedlock births, the work environment often pulls fathers away from their families physically and psychologically, and the media portrays fathers as fools.

We need to “protect and celebrate the father-guided family.”

For the full article see:

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