In 1949, Mental Health America (MHA) began Mental Health Awareness Month. Every May, numerous organizations come together for advocacy and resources. This year, the theme is Tools 2 Thrive, an optimistic topic given some of the past year’s unique challenges.
When Idaho’s kids need help, there are a special group of people out there ready to step up. They do not wear capes or masks or fly in at the last second. They are humble, everyday Idahoans who believe kids are more than their trauma and that is why they choose to give to charities like Idaho Youth Ranch.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse or exposure to violence can have significant and far-reaching impacts on children and adolescents, especially when the form of abuse is sexual in nature. In the state of Idaho, 23% of adults have had four or more ACEs, while 65% of adults have had at least one ACE. Of the various types of ACEs experienced by Idaho adults, 13.9% were touched sexually, 10% were made to touch someone else sexually, and 4.9% were forced to have sex. According to statistics based on confirmed reports, an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds, and every 9 minutes the victim is a child. Unfortunately, many victims of sexual abuse do not disclose and research shows that it is a far more widespread issue than statistics can account for. In the US and Europe, 1/5-1/3 of females report having had a childhood sexual experience with a male adult.
When a child has an adverse experience, it can lead to greater issues down the line. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) correlate with negative health impacts. Those who have six or more ACEs lose 20 years to their average life expectancy compared to those who do not have any ACEs. Those with 4 or more ACEs are more likely to have a chronic health condition and engage in unhealthy behaviors.
Unfortunately, for some children, one ACE they will experience is physical abuse. In Idaho, a reported 19.2% of adults have experienced physical abuse as a child, and in 2017 there were 402 confirmed cases of physical abuse reported in the state.
When a parent withholds meeting the basic needs of their child physically, emotionally, educationally, or medically it is considered neglect. In the United States, among all mistreated children (672,000), 7 out of 1,000 were victims of neglect. The percentage of maltreated children who were neglected increased from 49% to 75% from 1990 to 2016. The effects of neglect as a child can be both physical and psychological, lasting well into adulthood and sometimes throughout one’s lifetime. In Idaho, 65.1% of adults have experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience, ACE, with emotional abuse/neglect being the most common at 37.6%.
One of the most difficult forms of abuse to detect is emotional, or psychological, abuse. This harmful behavioral pattern can have significant, far-reaching impacts on children that extend into adulthood. Oftentimes, it occurs in tandem with sexual or physical abuse. In 36% of reported child abuse cases in the US, emotional abuse was also an identified factor.
What should you do if a friend approaches you about a particular problem and you aren't sure how to respond? Better yet, how can you best support them if they don't want you sharing their secrets? Here are some tips to consider.