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California Essentials for Childhood Initiative (CA)

The California Essentials for Childhood Initiative uses a public health and collective impact approach to align and enhance collaborative efforts to promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children, youth and families through systems, policy and social norms change.

Trends in Adverse Childhood Exeperiences (ACEs) in the United States []


By David Finkelhor, Child Abuse & Neglect, July 30, 2020


Background: It is important for those called upon to discuss major social determinants of health such as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to have accurate knowledge about generational trends in their prevalence.

Objective: To review available trend data on major forms of ACEs. Methods: A search of academic data bases was conducted by combining the term “trend” with a variety of terms referring to childhood adversities.

Results: Available trend data on ACEs from the 20th century show multi-decade declines in parental death, parental illness, sibling death, and poverty, but multi-decade increases in parental divorce, parental drug abuse and parental incarceration. More recent trend data on ACEs for the first fifteen to eighteen years of the 21st century show declines in parental illness, sibling death, exposure to domestic violence, childhood poverty, parental divorce, serious childhood illness, physical abuse, sexual abuse, physical and emotional bullying and exposure to community violence. Two 21st century ACE increases were for parental alcohol and drug abuse. Overall, there appear to have been more historical and recent improvements in ACEs than deteriorations. But the US still lags conspicuously behind other developed countries on many of these indicators.

Conclusion: Awareness of improvements, as well as persistent challenges, are important to motivate policy makers and practitioners and to prompt them to recognize the feasibility of success in the prevention of ACEs.

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While this article is interesting, Finkelhor uses out of data data acquisition. Contemporary trends in family dysfunction, morbidity, and mortality have been teased apart on a much more detailed level by the economist Angus Deaton using techniques for which he won the Nobel prize. A more intimate understanding contemporary USA family stress will be found in the book he wrote with his wife Anne Case "Deaths of Despair." In brief they document the stresses of social alienation unemployment and demoralization among USA white non-Hispanic families (and individuals) without a college education occurring now 30-50 years after they destroyed Black families.

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