this week’s episode of The Guardian,
prenatal testing reveals that Nick and Lulu’s baby has Down syndrome. Meanwhile, Nick represents a father falsely
accused of sexually molesting his daughter.
Down syndrome is a genetically based form of mental
retardation. It occurs in about 5,000 births per year in the United States,
which is approximately 1 out of every 800 births. Children with Down syndrome
often have slanted eyes, a short stature, and poor muscle tone. They commonly
experience respiratory infections and congenital heart disease. Fortunately,
many heart defects are treatable now and some can be corrected without surgery.
Contrary to popular thinking, very few individuals with Downs have severe
mental retardation. Instead, it has been discovered that children with Down
syndrome exhibit a wide range of abilities with most children falling into the
mildly to moderately delayed category. Learning in these children has been
shown to continue through adolescence and many individuals integrate into the
regular education system.
Research has dispelled some of the myths surrounding Down
syndrome. For instance, it is not a rare condition and while rate of incidence
raises with the age of the mother, eighty percent of children born with Downs
are born to mothers younger than 35. Adults with Downs often live independently
or in group homes and participate fully in their communities by obtaining jobs
and participating in sports, camping,
music, and art programs.
New research suggests that children with Down syndrome
understand more than they verbalize. This may mean that there is a vast,
untapped potential that can be explored and nurtured. As more children with
Down syndrome are raised in families where they receive individual attention,
they are accomplishing more than once thought possible. Consequently, children
diagnosed with Downs pose a special opportunity to their parents and adoptive
caretakers. For more information about adoption of Downs’ syndrome children
For more information visit:
National Down Syndrome Society
National Down Syndrome Congress
Each year, thousands of cases of sexual abuse are reported
to the authorities. Sadly, thousands
more occur, but remain a dark and hurtful secret. Child abuse literature suggests that 75-80% of sexual abuse is
perpetrated by a family member.
Custody and child welfare cases often involve allegations of
abuse. The literature and statistics vary regarding the accuracy of sexual
abuse allegations in custody cases. Some studies report that allegations are more often true than
false, and that sexual abuse occurs as the result of emotional turmoil that
accompanies divorce. Other research suggests that sexual abuse allegations in
custody cases are false more often than not.
One explanation is that the custodial parent may misinterpret a child’s
resistance or reluctance to visit the other parent as signs of abuse. Another explanation suggests that in some
cases the primary caretaker creates an allegation of sexual abuse as a way to
strengthen the custody case.
Victims of sexual abuse often suffer from low self-esteem,
feel isolated, develop abnormal views and attitudes about sex, and frequently
have trouble forming healthy sexual relationships as adults. Other signs of
sexual abuse in children include:
Either an avoidance of or heightened interest in
anything of a sexual nature
Seductiveness at a young age
Refusal to go to school or to partake in activities
they previously enjoyed.
Saying negative things about themselves and their
Therapy often is needed to help victims of sexual abuse
regain their sense of self-esteem and work through feelings of anger, shame and
confusion. Family therapy also may be
important to help the rest of the family deal with feelings of loss, betrayal
It is crucial for children to be reminded that abuse is not
their fault, that they have done nothing to cause the problems in the family,
and that their disclosure in no way diminishes or changes the love of their
With love and support, child victims of sexual abuse can and
do recover. Families who respond to
abuse by showing healthy love and encouraging open communication will help the
child recover and again believe in herself.
A child is more likely to cry for help when she believes that her cry
will be heard.