Should the prevention of childhood trauma be a public health issue? Not all trauma can be prevented, but when you see statistics like this, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t something that is affecting society in a large way:
“Not only were rates of developing a mental illness higher, people who experienced more trauma were more likely to struggle transitioning into adulthood as measured by outcomes like difficulty holding a job and social isolation. The association between childhood trauma and issues in adulthood persisted even after considering other factors like low socioeconomic status or family dysfunction. “
What we see statistically is that children with high ACE sores, lots of childhood trauma, struggle with mental health issues, those spread into struggling in relationships and with work as adults. A high number of those same folks wind up in jail, either directly because of a mental health issue, or as a result of not being able to take care of themselves. Then, we see the large number of people in prison who have mental health issues, who are not getting proper treatment, and only wind up getting worse, or being released and then circling right back in, because now they not only have the same, or worse, issues, they have a record to boot.
At some point, many of these same folks have kids, who grow up in chaotic circumstances, bringing another traumatized childhood into play.
This cycle gets repeated constantly all around us, but we only work at the edges. We try yo treat mental health with underfunded resources in and out of prison, we try to make it easier for ex-cons to get and hold a job, without recognizing where this all starts, and trying to do something about that.
Abused children, especially abused children who do not get help, grow up with numerous issues. Those issues create difficulties not just for them, but their loved ones and families as well, which play out in multiple lives being consumed by those issues instead of focusing on building a better life for themselves.
Those lives then become a societal problem when we start to look at not just mental health issues, but addiction, domestic violence, etc. The science is still coming in, but I think it’s safe to say that abused and traumatized children, are more likely to wind up in any of those situations. That’s not always true, but it is statistically significant.
Imagine what society could be if we could focus on childhood trauma, and make a significant dent in the numbers of addicts, inmates, and broken homes in a generation or two?
I’ll have more on this, I’ve been collecting a number of articles on the different aspects of this subject, but this is where we need to start, prevention.
This is the hard work that will bring significant results. All the other things that we could, and should, be doing for adults are good, but it’s all “whack -a- mole” if we don’t start addressing the childhood trauma that is at the core of so much of it.