PALO ALTO – Twenty one percent of California’s adults with children living in their homes report that they were hit, beaten, kicked, or physically hurt by their own parents, or other adults in the home, when they were children. Ten percent say that they were sexually abused as a child. This information comes from survey data released today on kidsdata.org, to coincide with the opening of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Conference in San Francisco.
Available exclusively on Kidsdata, the data are the first ever released on childhood trauma among the state’s adults with children living in their homes, versus all adults. The data come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which is the largest continuously conducted health survey system in the world.
Childhood adversity, sometimes referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), has come to be seen as an urgent public health crisis. A wealth of research shows that parents who experienced abuse as children have a higher likelihood of abusing their own children. However, parents who were abused do not all repeat the cycle of violence with their own children. Kidsdata’s release today also includes data on child resiliency, or the ability to mitigate the effects of childhood trauma.
The new data on kidsdata.org include 56 indicators related to Childhood Adversity and Resilience in California. Exclusive to Kidsdata are the indicators that reflect adults with and without children living in the home who describe their own childhood adversity. Additional data in this suite include mothers of newborns reporting on their own childhood, and parents reporting on adversity experienced by their children. Like all data on Kidsdata, the new indicators can be easily customized, visualized, shared and in some cases, viewed as county and city level data.
The data are a result of a partnership between Kidsdata and the California Department of Public Health’s Essentials for Childhood Initiative and their Shared Data and Outcomes Workgroup, as well as numerous organizations that provided data: Public Health Institute’s Survey Research Group, the California Department of Public Health’s Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program, the University of California, San Francisco’s Center on Social Disparities in Health, and the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative.
The higher number of traumatic events a child experiences, the more long-lasting impacts those events may have on the child’s physical, mental and emotional health. These events often lead to serious complications in adulthood, such as chronic diseases, substance abuse and depression. Consequently, parents who were abused as children are more susceptible to these problems as adults, all of which can impair their ability to meet their children’s needs.
Today’s data release helps policymakers, researchers, social workers and practitioners identify opportunities to prevent childhood trauma, allay its effects, and develop better community support systems that promote resiliency. While California has made strides in these areas, continued efforts are needed to ensure that all children thrive and reach their full potential.
Kidsdata is a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, whose mission is to elevate the priority of children's health, and increase the quality and accessibility of children's health care through leadership and direct investment.
Ling Liu, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health
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