Two new studies led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggest that the bevy of tools available to assess and address childhood adversity and trauma, as well as the interconnected webs of relationships among families and the providers who care for children, are key to healing the effects of these potentially life-altering circumstances.
The findings, published online in a special issue of Academic Pediatrics, offer useful insights in helping children and their families recover from adverse childhood experiences, which can have myriad and serious health consequences.
Researchers have known for decades that adverse childhood experiences—which can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and neglect, parental incarceration, and household substance abuse, among other circumstances—are associated with a variety of other long-term health problems or high-risk behaviors, including depression, heart disease, substance abuse and sleep disorders. Only more recently have researchers understood the prevalence of these experiences among children and youth. A 2014 study found that nearly half of all U.S. children had experienced at least one and that effects on health, school success and well-being show up early.
Despite this knowledge, public health efforts have thus far not fully addressed these issues, setting many children up for what could be lifelong health problems.