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The cost of child abuse and early trauma

The ACE (Adverse Childhood Events) study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente from 1995-1997. More

than 17,000 participants were given a standardized physical examination. The study is tracking the

medical status of the baseline participants. Participants also completed questionnaires asking about

their exposure to childhood mistreatment and family dysfunction. The prospective phase of the study is

underway and will assess the relationship between ACE’s, health care and death.

Adverse childhood events include childhood abuse, neglect and exposure to a variety of traumatic

stressors. Nearly two-thirds of the study participants reported at least one ACE and more than a fifth

reported three or more ACE’s. The study uses the ACE score, which is the total count of the number of

ACE’s reported by the respondents, to assess the amount of stress during childhood. It has been found

that as the number of ACE’s increase, the risk for health problems increases. The health problems could

include: substance use and abuse, depression, suicide attempts, sexually transmitted diseases,

adolescent pregnancies. Risky behaviors may include: early initiation of sexual activity and having

multiple sexual partners, intimate partner violence. Childhood maltreatment may result in improper

brain development, impaired cognitive abilities and social/emotional skills.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that abused and neglected children are at least

25% more likely to experience delinquency, teen pregnancy and low academic achievement. They are

also at greater risk of being arrested as juveniles and less likely to graduate from high school.

Maltreatment in childhood may also have a negative effect on the ability of survivors to establish and

maintain health relationships as adults.

To learn more, go to

Home of the Sparrow offers in-house counseling services by licensed professional counselors for adults

and children/families receiving HOS services. The aim is to address the trauma, stress and anxiety

related to previous trauma and/or the experience of homelessness. In addition, HOS offers Incredible

Years, an evidence-based program designed to promote emotional and social competence in children,

reduce and prevent problem behaviors in children and strengthen parenting skills.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, call the Intake Department at Home of the

Sparrow at 815-271-5444 x58 to learn more about our services.


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