Children, their mental health and war, 9/11, graffiti, autism and more

17th World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions

Child soldiers - the cost of war
Child Soldiers in Uganda are left with significant mental health issues. Illustrated with drawings by children, Grace Onyango from World Vision talks about 12 years working with former child soldiers. This is one of several presentations on child soldiers and the effects of war on children.

Trauma from natural disasters impact on infants
On the fifth anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the United States, US psychiatry professor a world expert Charles Zeanah is available to discuss how trauma affects children. Professor Zeanah is also familiar with the work of US researchers who have examined the effects of 9/11.

Terrorism, disaster and child mental health
How prepared is Australia for disaster and terrorism, and how will children cope? A key session will describe the preparation for and response to potential terrorism, and ask whether the child and adolescent mental health system is adequately prepared.

Serious harm to child refugees detained by Australia
There is clear evidence that serious harm is being done to children detained by the Australian Government's mandatory detention policy, says the director of the NSW Institute of Psychiatry Louise Newman. Since 1991, about 3000 children, including unaccompanied minors, have been detained. "The price that is being paid in psychological and emotional harm is too great," Dr Newman said. "This is a policy that will not go away. We need a radical rethink from a penal model to a health and welfare model."

Graffiti have we got it wrong?
Queensland University Professor Graham Martin says society is tackling graffiti the wrong way - that calling the police and making kids wash off walls is a waste of time, as is graffiti-resistant paint. Professor Martin, an expert in suicide in young people, argues the actions of many graffitists are a call for help and society should treat the problem differently.

Playing games online the effect on real world relationships
German researcher Karla Misek-Schneider reports on a 10-year project examining the positive and dangerous aspects of on-line gaming, which has become an important part of many adolescents' lives. The research includes why children find cyberspace so fascinating, and what happens if they spend hours in a virtual world, at the expense of developing relationship skills.

How safe are the drugs used to treat ADHD? And are they over-prescribed?
Every day about 50,000 Australian children take drugs to counter ADHD, yet there is still strong debate in medical circles about whether we are doing the right thing by out children. Susan Selwyn, Clinical Psychologist and conference spokesperson, said drugs need not be the treatment of choice, especially when early psychological intervention with children and their parents was effective and safe.

Jailed for autism?
Vulnerable, undiagnosed autistic children are over-represented in the juvenile justice system, says Monash University researcher and clinician Dr Teresa Flower, speaking at the international child mental health conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

Why some mothers are compulsive
Women who have a baby can show signs similar to people with obsessive compulsive disorder, according to Yale psychiatry professor James F. Leckman. A new parent may be preoccupied with their infant, clean obsessively, order and arrange items neatly and hoard materials in ways similar to someone with OCD. The link appears to be a neuropeptide called oxytocin, found in elevated levels in some people with OCD and released in women during childbirth. Professor Leckman's study in this area has moved to brain imaging of new parents, and how they respond to their child's cries.

How deadly are medications for children?
There is no evidence that stimulant medications given to children with ADHD increase the risk of deadly heart complications, says the Honorary Professor of Child Psychiatry at Sydney University Joseph Rey. But older drugs given as anti-depressants can have cardiotoxic effects, and anti-psychotic medication can lead to weight gain, diabetes and cardiac risks. For all medications, it is important to have close monitoring, Professor Rey says. "One can never assume a drug is completely harmless because sometimes it takes 20 years to identify a problem."

Two tongues better than one for growing minds
Adolescents from migrant families who grow up bilingually perform better in school, are generally happier, and are less likely to hurt themselves or others, a new study has found. The French study, led by Marie Rose Moro, a Professor of psychopathology at Paris University, disputes the common practice, whereby migrant children are discouraged from learning their mother tongue in fear they will not learn French properly.

How to cut drug use, violence in school change the social climates
A study in 26 Australian schools led to tobacco and cannabis use falling 25 per cent; violence and anti-social behaviour falling 20 per cent; and having sexual intercourse among 13-year-olds fell by 50 per cent.


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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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