Children in Arkansas are more likely to endure adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, than children in most other states, according to recent data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines ACEs as a “term used to describe all types of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur to people under the age of 18.” Examples of ACEs include abuse, both physical and emotional; living with someone with drug or alcohol problems; living with someone with mental health problems; or being exposed to violence in the home or community. Studies have demonstrated that those with more ACE exposures during childhood are at increased risk for engaging in risky behaviors, developing chronic health conditions, and having lower life expectancy.
The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) has released new state fact sheets on ACEs, utilizing 2016‒2017 data from the National Survey of Children’s Health and more recent data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Study. The Arkansas fact sheet highlights the toll that childhood adversity and trauma has had on children and adults in the state.
According to the fact sheet, Arkansas exceeds the national average of children with two or more ACEs ― 27.1% in Arkansas vs. 20.5% nationally. The fact sheet also looks at the effects of ACEs: For example, 39% of children ages 10‒17 in Arkansas with two or more ACEs are overweight or obese, compared to 37.2% nationally. Also, 41.6% of children ages 6‒17 in Arkansas with two or more ACEs are bullied, picked on, or excluded by other children, compared to 34.2% nationally.
Among adults nationwide, those who had two or more ACEs are three times more likely to have attempted suicide and four times more likely to consider themselves alcoholics than adults who had no ACEs. The odds of those and other problems are considerably higher for adults who had more than two ACEs.