In an unprecedented Hidden Crisis Report by the Center for Youth Wellness, it was revealed that 23.7 percent of residents in Stanislaus County have experienced at least four Adverse Childhood Experiences, including abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction, during their childhood.
According to the report, this amount of experiences can significantly impact the health or wellbeing of a child, as well as lead to toxic stress and poor health outcomes, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, as an adult.
"This first-of-its-kind report illustrates the long-term and far-reaching consequences of ACEs on California adults," said Mary Pittman, president and CEO of the Public Health Institute. "Childhood exposure to adversity, such as abuse and neglect, is linked to disease, depression and other health risks."
The report identifies 10 recognized ACES, which are divided into three general categories: abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. Abuse ACEs encompass physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Neglect ACEs defined both physical and emotional neglect. Household dysfunction ACEs can include anything from mental illness to substance abuse to divorce.
"California is facing a major public health crisis that until now has gone largely unaddressed-children's exposure to trauma and adversity," said Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, founder and CEO of the Center for Youth and Wellness. "The science is clear: early adversity dramatically affects health across a lifetime, but this public health crisis is both treatable and beatable."
In Stanislaus County, 34.8 percent of residents have experienced at least one ACE, with the most common being emotional, or verbal, abuse. Of all California residents surveyed for the report, 35 percent revealed that a parent or adult has either swore, insulted, or put them down during their childhood.
Other significant ACEs among California adults were parental separation or divorce, substance abuse by a household member, and physical abuse.
With the release of these findings, the Center for Youth Wellness hopes to encourage California to address the impact of ACEs in order to improve both the health and success of children and families.
Among its recommendations for the state, the center advises that California continues state-level data collection regarding the prevalence of ACEs, increases awareness about ACEs and their impact on an individual's health and wellness, and increases access to mental health care for all Californians.