Study Finds Arizona Children At Higher Risk Of A Lifetime Of Hardship
A newly released national study has found Arizona kids, on average, face far more adversity while growing up than most children in our country.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACE score, measures whether a child has witnessed or endured abuse, lived in poverty, been neglected and other negative factors. The more adversities a child suffers through, the higher their risk for long-term health diseases and learning disabilities.
The study that began more than 20 years ago by the Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measures eight factors.
Child Trends, a national research organization for child health and welfare, looked at the most recent ACE scores on a state by state basis.
The co-author of that study, David Murphey, found in Arizona more than a quarter of the children asked suffered economic hardship, while nearly one-third lived with one parent, and between 10 to 15 percent lived with an addicted parent, a mentally ill relative, an abusive adult, or had a parent serving jail time.
Arizona’s children scored fourth worst for ACE scores, along with Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico and Ohio, where one in nine children had experienced three or more ACEs.
The immediate common link between all five states, Murphey noted, was insidious erosion in child welfare and family programs.
When asked what will reverse the trend for Arizona children, Murphey suggested Arizona lawmakers and voters “support (at risk children’s) parents and their families to provide the love and care for their children.”
That way, he said, “They can cope better with parental separation or divorce, incarceration of a parent, or the parent who has a substance abuse problem or a mental health problem.”
ACE studies have shown prolonged exposure to stress hormones can physically alter a child’s development leading to learning disorders early on to life-long chronic illnesses, and mental health disorders that – left unmanaged – can perpetuate abuse, drug addiction and homelessness well into adulthood.