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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Study Examines Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences Among U.S. Children

Researchers from the Rural and Minority Health Research Center at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health have recently completed a study on the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among U.S. children. The study was led by health services policy and management assistant professor Dr. Elizabeth Crouch and conducted with collaborators from her department, the School of Medicine, and the College of Nursing. Their findings were published in the journal, Child Abuse & Neglect.

With this study, Dr. Crouch and her team estimated the prevalence of ACEs using data from a nationally representative 2016 national Survey of Children’s Health, including more than 45K children. They also examined the relationship between child and family characteristics and the likelihood of reported exposure to ACEs. The data was based on parent-reported child ACE exposure and measured using counts of those reporting zero, one to three, and four or more ACEs.

The authors found that economic hardship (22.5 percent) and parent/guardian divorce/separation (21.9 percent) were the most prevalent types of ACE exposure experienced by children participating in the survey. Older children (34.7 percent), Non-Hispanic African American children (34.7 percent), children with special health care needs (SHCN; 36.3 percent), children living in poverty (37.2 percent), and children living in rural areas (30.5 percent) were more likely to be exposed to parental divorce or separation. Further, they found five cross-cutting factors emerged as important across outcomes: child’s age, family structure, poverty, type of health insurance, and special health care needs.

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