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. The survey data, now available on Kidsdata, 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 also includes data on child resiliency, or the ability to mitigate the effects of childhood trauma.
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.
Kidsdata’s new data help 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.