+
Family

Oprah is tirelessly working to get people to pay attention to this life-changing issue.

Childhood bullying is an epidemic in this country. Around 28% of students experience it first hand, and nearly 70% witness it happen.

When we hear about it, we feel sympathy for the kids being bullied, as we should, but don't often give this care and consideration to the perpetrators. Instead, our gut reaction is to ask questions.

"Why did they do this?"


"What is wrong with them?"

"What did the parents do/not do?"

But if we hope to improve the mental health of our children, the adults they become, and the communities that raise them, we need to ask better questions. Journalist, philanthropist, and TV legend Oprah Winfrey wants to help people get there by examining the role of childhood trauma.

"This story is so important to me and I believe to our culture that if I could dance on the tabletops right now to get people to pay attention to it, I would," she said on "CBS This Morning."

Trauma is the emotional response to a distressing event, including but not limited to violence, sexual assault or abuse, a natural disaster, or an accident.

The heightened emotional response can occur immediately after the event, (think the shock or denial that may occur after getting mugged), but it can also continue months or years later. Survivors may have uncomfortable flashbacks, confusion, anxiety, or feel withdrawn. The symptoms can also be physical, with nightmares, racing heartbeats, muscle tension, and fatigue. Trauma can literally take over your body and mind, and its effects can be magnified in children.

Photo by Duane Prokop/Getty Images for Feeding America.

In a report for "60 Minutes" Oprah sat down with Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist and expert on childhood trauma.

Perry revealed that adverse or distressing events in a child's early development, can increase their chances of social, mental, and physical problems later in life.

"That very same sensitivity that makes you able to learn language just like that, as a little infant, makes you highly vulnerable to chaos, threat, inconsistency, unpredictability, violence," Perry told Winfrey. "And so children are much more sensitive to developmental trauma than adults."

Bruce D. Perry, M.D. PhD. Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.

Since trauma can stem not just from single events, but from living in stressful environments, children in these situations may be wired differently than those living in consistent, nurturing, predictable homes.

Perry says children living in chaos and unpredictability (think residing in areas with a lot of crime, growing up food insecure, or with parents who are struggling with addiction) are at much higher rates of risk for academic trouble and potential mental health problems.  

"If you have developmental trauma, the truth is you're going to be at risk for almost any kind of physical health, mental health, social health problem that you can think of," Perry said.

"If you don't fix the hole in the soul ... you're working at the wrong thing."

Trauma-informed care is one approach to tackling this issue.

Trauma-informed care means taking into account a person's trauma and the coping mechanisms they've been using when educating or treating someone. This might look like a school environment where open communication, empathy, and sensitivity to how other people are feeling are top priorities, not just to help children cope with trauma, but to create a culture of welcoming, tolerance, and acceptance to prevent further trauma. This would also mean teachers, administrators, and support staff would be trained in direct intervention methods to support traumatized students.

After learning about the effects of developmental trauma, Winfrey reached out to the board of her school in South Africa to change the way they're approaching education.

"It has definitively changed the way I see people in the world, and it has definitively changed the way I will now be operating my school in South Africa and going forward any philanthropic efforts that I'm engaged in," she said on "CBS This Morning."

Oprah Winfrey chats with students of the first graduating class at her South African girls' academy. Photo by Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

If Winfrey seems especially passionate about this, it's because she experienced traumatic events as a child.

She's spoken at length about the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of a relative when she was a child. And recently opened up about the spankings she received from her mother, which were common at the time, but no less distressing. Winfrey threw herself into school work and found a positive outlet, and supportive, trusted adults in her teachers. Without those role models and a positive outlet, her story may have gone a lot differently.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

To improve our schools and communities, it's worth rethinking the notion of "bad kids," or "bad parents."

Instead of asking "What is wrong with them?" take a step back and consider the role childhood trauma may have played in their upbringing. Asking, "What have they seen or experienced?," and "Who was there to help them through that experience?" may provide some insight. Trauma doesn't negate their misbehavior, but it may provide the empathy and understanding they desperately need to change their ways.

"If you don't fix the hole in the soul, the thing that is where the wounds started, you're working at the wrong thing."

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

Keep ReadingShow less

A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

Keep ReadingShow less

Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

Keep ReadingShow less