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Report: Childhood Trauma High in ID; Supportive Communities in Place

Idaho ranks high in terms of having supportive families and communities, which are key protective measures for children who have experienced trauma. (Idaho Air National Guard/Flickr)
Idaho ranks high in terms of having supportive families and communities, which are key protective measures for children who have experienced trauma. (Idaho Air National Guard/Flickr)
November 3, 2017

BOISE, Idaho – A staggering number of children in Idaho have experienced at least one traumatic event, according to a new report. But the same report says the Gem State has a strong network of supportive families and neighborhoods to push back against this problem.

In Idaho, nearly 51 percent of children have had at least one Adverse Childhood Experience or "ACE," such as abuse, neglect or severe family dysfunction. That's higher than the national average of about 46 percent.

Roger Sherman, the executive director of the Idaho Children's Trust Fund, says this trauma has both short- and long-term effects.

"They tend to drive people to riskier behaviors and long-term outcomes of poorer both physical and mental health, in all kinds of areas - long-term stress, stress that causes them to have things like heart disease," he explains.

Sherman says the suicide rate also is higher for people who have had at least one of these ACEs, and increases with each traumatic event. According to the report, more than one in five Idaho kids has had two or more major, adverse experiences. But it also points to ways the state can improve.

It says Idaho ranks well above the national average for families that live in supportive communities. Families also are more likely to eat meals together, as well limit screen time for children and encourage them to do homework and participate in activities. Sherman agrees these are key parts of improving children's lives.

"We have some of the routines and habits that help families to grow strong," he notes. "So, if we think about how we can just be that much more supportive of those families who are experiencing difficulties, we can do something that works for all of us."

The Children's Trust Fund encourages family-strengthening programs like parenting classes and support groups. Sherman says there also are in-home services available to help parents out.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID