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.
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.
It's everyone's worst nightmare: Getting a call or finding out that someone you knew has completed suicide. People ask themselves, “Why?” They say things like, “I should have known. I wish I would have said something.”
The thing we hear most often from parents is, “I wish I would have known about you sooner.” It can be extraordinarily difficult for parents to reach out for help or to know what resources are available to them. It can also be difficult to distinguish between the signs of normal teenage moodiness and serious causes for concern.
Psychological or emotional trauma is defined as “damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one's ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience.”
Just as there are adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that play a role in the future success of kids, there are also 7 positive childhood experiences (PCEs) that can offset their damage.
In 1985, Dr. Vincent Felitti was the Chief of Preventative Medicine at Keiser Permanente. He was doing a study on long-term health outcomes when he noticed that people who had traumatic pasts tended to have more dire health outcomes such as heart disease and diabetes. So strong was the trend, he turned the focus of his research to understanding more about how adversity in childhood related to health outcomes in adults.
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.