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Baylor study shows benefits of Bible-based trauma healing programs in prisons

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Inmates who participated in a Bible-based trauma healing ministry program showed enhanced emotional well-being and a significant decrease in the negative consequences of trauma, a recent study by the American Bible Society and Baylor University revealed.

Through participating in “Healing the Wounded Heart,” ABS’ Bible-based Correctional Trauma Healing Program, participants experienced a decline in PTSD and vengefulness. Also, they experienced increases in forgiveness, resilience and meaning in life.

ABS and the Good News Jail & Prison Ministry partnered to train chaplains and volunteers at the Riverside Regional Jail in North Prince George, Virginia, to facilitate the program used for a study conducted by Baylor University.

Of the 349 inmates in the study, 86% had experienced at least one type of traumatic event.

The 210 individuals in the treatment group completed surveys throughout the Correctional Trauma Healing Program to see if they had better outcomes than those in the control group who did not complete the program.

The longitudinal study of the program that consisted of five two-hour sessions revealed significant healing outcomes, which provided evidence on how Bible-based intervention should inform holistic approaches to offender reform.

“What’s amazing and not surprising to me is just how effective this program has been, not only through reduced trauma symptoms and increased a person’s sense of connection to God and to their neighbor and to the Bible but that it continues …,” Christian psychologist Dr. Phil Monroe, who works with the ABS Trauma Healing Program, told The Christian Post. “We have proven effects that last.”

Even after one to three months of completing the program, inmates showed improvement in areas of forgiveness, compassion, resilience and support from family and friends, among other positive effects.

Monroe said the program yields these results due to the ministry’s faith aspect.

“When we are able to bring together a person’s faith that they are interested in talking about, along with best mental health practices, we know from other research as well that they tend to recover much faster,” Monroe said.

The program is volunteer-led, which allows for more impact at a low cost, Monroe said. The program is derived from the book Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church Can Help and is contextualized for a correctional facility setting.

Robert L. Briggs, ABS president and CEO, said that as America struggles with a mental health crisis, this study “shows the potential benefits of faith-sensitive care for traumatized people.”

“The Bible has been shown to be a vital source for emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental healing,” Briggs said in a statement. “The volunteer-driven Trauma Healing Ministry at American Bible Society is an important resource for the church, helping her respond to the deep wounds of trauma in communities.”

“There aren’t many programs like this that reduce post-traumatic stress, improve positive virtues like forgiveness and compassion, increase confidence in God and the Bible, and reduce negative behaviors at this low of a cost,” Briggs added. “It’s highly efficient, effective, and scalable across the country.”

Byron R. Johnson, Sung Joon Jang and Matt Bradshaw from Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion were the report’s researchers and co-authors.

“No other known intervention accomplishes so much good for highly traumatized jail inmates in such a short period of time,” Johnson said.

Around 20% of prison inmates have a serious mental illness, and around 30% to 60% struggle with substance use, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Inmates are also more likely to suffer from infectious diseases and mental health crises, such as withdrawal, psychological distress and the “pains of imprisonment,” according to the study.

Over half of men and women in jails and state prisons experience mental health problems requiring treatment each year, which sometimes results in behavioral problems.

Bible-based trauma healing was developed in the late 1990s by SIL Bible translators and church leaders in East African war zones. ABS began to develop the Trauma Healing Program in 2010 to help victims of trauma process pain and gain hope through Scripture.

Monroe said this could be the solution for better rehabilitation programs in correctional facilities, which would lead to a decreased number of released inmates returning to the correctional system.

“It does seem to be the missing link that could be beneficial for solving the revolving door problem that we have in our correctional setting where people are not being rehabilitated and are not having their traumas addressed, and so are coming back to the revolving door,” Monroe shared.
Sources:Christian Post

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Covid-19 ‘shakes’ Brazil; Most children and young people die

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Brazil has been one of the worst-hit nations by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic but the unusual high deaths among babies have caused immense concerns. Despite overwhelming evidence based on data that Covid-19 rarely turns fatal for children, around 1,300 babies have died from coronavirus.

BBC did a feature on a Brazilian woman’s one-year-old son who died two months after he first displayed symptoms of Covid-19 in May last year. Jessika Ricarte took her son, Lucas, to a hospital after he developed a fever, then fatigue and slightly laboured breathing. The oxygen level was at a low 86 per cent but the doctor assured Jessika that Covid-19 was rare in children and sent her home with some antibiotics, reported BBC.

Jessika, a resident of Tamboril in Ceará, northeast Brazil, said that although some of the symptoms disappeared at the end of his 10-day antibiotics course, the tiredness remained, as per the report. On June 3, Lucas vomited repeatedly after having lunch, prompting Jessika to take him to a local hospital. He tested positive for Covid-19 and was transferred to a paediatric intensive care unit in Sobral, a municipality that was over two hours away.

Lucas was diagnosed there with a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS). A recent study, published in The Lancet, suggests that multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a newly identified and serious health condition associated with Covid-19. It is a rare but severe hyperinflammatory condition in children and adolescents that typically occurs 2–6 weeks after they are infected with the coronavirus.

MIS-C is an extreme immune response to the virus and can affect multiple organ systems, including cardiac, gastrointestinal, haematological, dermatological, neurological, respiratory, and renal systems. For the study, the researchers analysed 1,080 patients who met the MIS-C case definition and had sufficient clinical data for analysis of pre-existing factors.

Out of 1,080 patients, 431 were admitted to ICU on the same day as hospitalisation and 217 were admitted to ICU at least after a day of hospitalisation. The clinical signs and symptoms of MIS-C include cough, shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and abdominal pain, among others. Around 28 per cent of patients had decreased cardiac function, 36 per cent suffered shock, and around 2 per cent cases resulted in deaths.

Lucas was intubated after being diagnosed with MIS-C and suffered cardiac arrest while he was in the ICU, reported BBC. The doctor who was treating the kid said she was surprised at the seriousness of his condition since he did not have any risk factors in terms of comorbidities or overweight. A CT scan discovered that Lucas had had a stroke and later died after a sudden drop in heart rate and oxygen level, as per the report.

According to experts quoted by BBC, Brazil’s sheer number of Covid-19 cases have led to an increase in infection among babies and young children. While Brazil’s official data suggest that Covid-19 killed at least 852 children up to the age of nine, Dr Fatima Marinho, a leading epidemiologist from the University of São Paolo, did research that estimated the virus killed 2,060 children under nine years old, including 1,302 babies. Marinho told BBC that she is seeing more cases of MIS-C than ever before, highlighting that there is a misconception that children are at a zero risk for Covid-19.

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Russia prepares for devastating war; 30,000 more troops cross border; Ukraine shocked

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Thirty thousands of Russian troops massing near the Ukrainian border, convoys of tanks, and a deadly escalation in the grinding trench war in eastern Ukraine.

These storm clouds on Europe’s eastern flank are causing grave alarm in Washington and across the continent.

“We’re now seeing the largest concentration of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders since 2014,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday after flying to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. “That is a deep concern not only to Ukraine, but to the United States.”

In a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin later in the day, President Joe Biden declared Washington’s “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “called on Russia to de-escalate tensions,” a White House readout said.

Western officials and experts are now trying to decipher what Moscow might be planning: Is Putin testing Biden’s mettle — or is he actually trying to spark a fresh military conflict on the fringes of Europe?

“The optimistic assessment is that this is meant to intimidate Ukraine,” said Michael Kofman, a senior research scientist at CNA, a research group based in Virginia. “The pessimistic assessment, which I think is a lower probability but nonetheless very worth considering, is that Russia is actually spoiling for a fight and that they’re looking to bait Ukraine into a miscalculation.”

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in conflict since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and began supporting separatists in the country’s east. That war has rumbled on ever since, costing some 14,000 lives despite a series of shaky ceasefires.

But since March experts say they are witnessing something new.

Russia has started sending thousands of troops, tanks, artillery and other units to Crimea and regions along its 1,200-mile land border with Ukraine, according to Western governments and independent experts who monitor these maneuvers.

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The Russian troops number 40,000 in Crimea and another 40,000 in other regions along the border, Iuliia Mendel, spokeswoman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Monday.

Given that the Russian military has an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 troops, “that would be approximately 10 percent of the Russian military’s total manpower,” according to Rob Lee, a former U.S. Marine who now tracks military deployments at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.

Russia says these movements are “training missions,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday. But experts say they don’t fit the usual pattern for these wargames. Russian military officials haven’t provided the usual level of detail or forewarning.

“They are deliberately leaving their intentions ambiguous here,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, the fragile ceasefire that’s kept the Donbas conflict at a simmer has deteriorated, with more than 30 Ukrainian soldiers killed already this year, compared with 49 in 2020, Ukraine says.

In response, U.S. European Command has raised its threat level to the highest available, the New York Times reported. And it is planning to send two warships to the Black Sea, according to Turkey, which controls passage into it. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on both of these actions at recent briefings.

“If Russia acts recklessly,” Blinken told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday, “there will be consequences.”

After meeting Blinken on Tuesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the “Russian buildup is taking place, not only along the border of Ukraine, but along the border of democratic world.”

The problem for these allies is that it is still unclear what Russia is trying to do — much less how the West might be able to respond.

“The force assembled is large and heavy and could go deep and do some ugly stuff to Ukraine,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat. Is that what Russia intends to do? “I think an honest answer to your question would be: ‘I have no idea,'” he said.

Russia says it’s free to move troops internally however it likes.

“Russia has never been a threat to anyone and does not pose a threat,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Monday.

The Kremlin has tried to turn the narrative on its head, accusing the U.S. and NATO of being the ones responsible for raising the temperature.

“There is absolutely nothing for American ships to be doing near our shores,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news wires. “We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast. It will be for their own good.”

Ryabkov referred to the U.S. as an “adversary” — a word the U.S. uses to describe Russia, but a clear shift from Russia’s preferred term “partner” when referring to the U.S.

Many experts believe a Russian military offensive is not impossible but unlikely; it would be costly for Putin and it’s unclear what he would gain. The buildup has been slow and ostentatious, whereas a genuine invasion would be rapid and more covert.

More likely, according to these observers, is that Russia is attempting to intimidate Ukraine, perhaps to gain leverage in the stalled peace talks over the Donbas conflict.

Putin is also sending a message to Biden and Ukraine’s European allies, according to Fabrice Pothier, a consulting senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London think tank.

Biden has deployed harsher rhetoric toward Putin compared with President Donald Trump, and last month the U.S. announced $125 million in military aid to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine is renewing calls to join NATO, something the alliance promised in 2008 but is vehemently opposed by Russia.

“Putin is testing what President Biden’s Russia-Ukraine policy is really made of,” said Pothier, NATO’s former head of policy planning. “Is the U.S. willing to go as far as providing either indirect or direct military support to Ukraine forces? Basically, is the U.S. willing to go into some kind of escalation with Russia?”

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