Sample Research Proposal On Adverse Childhood Experiences: The Effects Of Child Abuse On Development
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Background and Rationale
Children are very aware of the emotions of adults around them, but they do not always have excellent cognition regarding events that are occurring . Children who experience stressful life events may demonstrate changes in epigenetic gene transcription as well as changes in behavior . Early life stressful events may be even more impactful on the development of children . Stressful life events may be relatively minor and still have an impact on child development due to a lack of understanding on the part of the child .
We hypothesize that when a child witnesses its parents experiencing a strenuous event and a pleasant event, the child is more likely to remember the strenuous encounter.
Parent-child dyads (N=200) will be used, focusing on children between the ages of 3-5. Each dyad will be placed into two situations: the parent will have a positive interaction with a research assistant as well as a stressful interaction based on a script. Parents will be instructed to react in a certain manner to the researcher. The child’s recollection of the interaction will be measured immediately after the interaction, one hour after, and one day later to determine impact of stressful and non-stressful events on children’s memories .
Significance and Implications
Stressful situations and experiences witnessed by children (even when children are not directly involved in the experience) may have a developmental impact on the child in question .
 Allen, J. (1988). Children's cognition of stressful events. Day Care & Early Education, 16(2), pp.21-25.
 Chandler, L., Million, M. and Shermis, M. (1985). The incidence of stressful life events of elementary school-aged children. American Journal of Community Psychology, 13(6), pp.743-746.
 Cowen, E., Pryor-Brown, L. and Lotyczewski, B. (1989). Young children's views of stressful life events. Journal of Community Psychology, 17(4), pp.369-375.
 Reul, J. (2014). Making Memories of Stressful Events: A Journey Along Epigenetic, Gene Transcription, and Signaling Pathways. Front. Psychiatry, 5.
 Ventura-Junca, R. and Herrera, L. (2012). Epigenetic alterations related to early-life stressful events.Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 24(5), pp.255-265.
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