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 reported in the state.
We’ve told you about the 16,404 cases of child abuse reported in Idaho in its last count. You may know that in confirmed cases of abuse, most are neglect (74 percent) followed by physical abuse (21 percent) and sexual abuse (6 percent). However, there is no good measurement for the way some people tear down the spirits of children without ever laying a hand on them. We're talking about emotional and psychological abuse.
How Domestic Violence Affects Children
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an opportunity to shine a light on a problem that too often hides unacknowledged in the shadows. And the impact on children is huge, whether they become targets themselves or whether they witness the abuse of a parent or caregiver.
The statistics on domestic violence are sobering -- and seemingly endless. The CDC indicates that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been raped, stalked, or physically assaulted by a domestic partner. In 2016 in Ada County alone, police responded to 5,236 calls for domestic violence or sexual assault. Moreover, behind many of these sobering numbers stands a child, or children, who either directly or indirectly experience the violence themselves. What do we know about the long-term effect experiencing or even witnessing domestic violence has on a child?
The realities of physical child abuse are unspeakably common and devastating. By the time you see it, it often looks like an angry teenage boy who scares his teachers and parents or a promiscuous girl struggling with a teen pregnancy only to repeat the cycle for the baby she brings into the world (Abused girls are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy).
Child Abuse in Idaho
Everyone knows one kid—that one kid who “fell through the cracks” or “just didn’t stand a chance.” As you sit reading this, can you picture their face? Most everyone knows someone who needed to be saved and who never was.
The Rewards of Not Giving Up
Teenage drug abuse is a daunting obstacle to overcome. Getting to the other side takes personal courage along with solid support from the caring adults who intervene to help. That's why when a boy’s life goes from perilous to promising, it’s cause for celebration. Not only for him but also for family, friends, teachers, community, and for some boys, their probation officer.
Resources for Teens Struggling with Substance Abuse
Tuesday's story "Few resources for teen addicts: Mother worries about options for 15-year-old son" in The Couer d'Alene Press highlights the importance of getting help for kids struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, including an interview with IYR's senior vice president of programs Dr. Robert Ball.