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 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.
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.