Many people joke about having "dysfunctional childhoods," but abuse or other difficult family situations are no laughing matter. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study finds that almost 60% of adults report adverse childhood experiences. Medline Plus summarizes the study and shares the details.
For the study, 26,229 adults from Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and Arkansas were surveyed. While the researchers note that it's impossible to assume that results apply to the rest of the country, they do believe that they would be similar in other parts of the United States.
While 60% of Americans reported having a troubled childhood, nine percent noted that they experienced five or more "adverse childhood experiences" such as physical, mental or sexual abuse, the absence of a parent or family dysfunction, which includes alcohol or drug abuse or domestic violence.
Specifically, "[a]dverse childhood experiences…included verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, incarceration of a family member, family mental illness, family substance abuse, domestic violence and divorce."
The report found the following experiences from the adults surveyed:
The study noted that "the volume of abuse and dysfunction is significant." However, it's not possible to take the experiences that each person who had a traumatic childhood and use those to conclude what kind of future they will have.
At the same time, childhood abuse or traumatic experiences can cause physical health problems once victims become adults. The article included the opinion of Dr. Lee M. Sanders, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who explained that children who were repeated victims of trauma are more likely to develop heart disease and cancer as adults.
Our children need protecting. "Adverse childhood experiences are common," said study coauthor Valerie J. Edwards, "We need to do a lot more to protect children and help families." Dr. Sanders suggests we need more programs that offer quality care to children, parenting programs and home visitation programs when children are still babies.
If you are concerned about a child you know, please do not ignore the situation or brush it off. Contact authorities. Additionally, if you are worried about your own family situation and your ability to protect your child, please seek help. Children rely on adults to care for and protect them.
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