In order for children to meet developmental milestones, learn, grow and lead productive lives, it is critical that they are healthy. Good social-emotional skills and mental health are key components of children’s healthy development.
Poverty, trauma and inadequate treatment are three factors shown to have a sustained, negative impact on children’s social-emotional skills and mental health. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is a term given to describe all types of abuse, neglect or other traumatic experiences that happen to individuals under the age of 18 years old. Racism is now recognized within ACEs – a toxic source of stress with the potential to disrupt a child’s ability to learn, relate, grow, play, communicate and problem solve.
In addition to experiencing trauma within our systems and environments, stress can change a person’s genetic code, influencing how future generations respond to stress within their bodies and their risk of poor health outcomes. While trauma impacts all racial and socio-economic groups, groups that report higher rates of childhood trauma include adults of color, women and people in poverty.
According to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, Black children are disproportionately represented among children with ACEs. Over 6 in 10 have ACEs, representing 17.4% of all children in the U.S. with ACEs.