Measuring Resilience Among California Children

December 1, 2016


Why is it that some of us are able to overcome childhood trauma while others are not? Resilience, the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, can curb the effects of trauma and adversity such as physical abuse, exposure to substance abuse, and unmet basic needs.

In California, an estimated one third of children are not resilient when facing a challenge, according to parent-reported data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, now available on Kidsdata. The data come from a suite of data related to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that were recently released on Kidsdata.

At the county level, the data show that Marin County, in addition to several Gold Country counties, had the highest rates of resilience, at 72 percent. On the other end of the spectrum, Imperial County, along with several Central Valley counties, had the lowest rates of resilience, at less than 65 percent.

A number of policies and programs can help prevent child abuse and neglect, and curb the effects of childhood adversity, including strengthening parent education, improving the social safety net for families in need, and institutionalizing “trauma-informed” community services and health care.

Resilience comes from having adaptive abilities, positive experiences, and a stable, supportive relationship with at least one adult, according to a 2015 report from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child at Harvard University. And resilience can be built over time, at any age, by engaging in various forms of stress reduction, including meditation and physical exercise, the report says.

Children Who Are Usually/Always Resilient (Parent Reported)

Years: 2011-2012

Related Data

Childhood Adversity and Resilience (summary)

Children with Two or More Adverse Experiences (Parent Reported)

Children Who Are Usually/Always Resilient (Parent Reported)

Prevalence of Childhood Hardships (Maternal Retrospective)

Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (Adult Retrospective)


Kidsdata Tip

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Helpful Links

Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative: Childhood Trauma and Positive Health

Prevention Institute

ACEs Connection

California Essentials for Childhood Initiative

Center for Youth Wellness


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