After last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the young survivors underwent a routine that has become all too familiar. Teams of crisis counselors were dispatched, vigils and funerals were held, and local officials debated what to do about the physical aftermath of the massacre: inspecting the school’s buildings and deciding when (and if) the campus would re-open for classes. The psychological damage may be harder to assess. Among kids exposed to traumatic violence, short-term symptoms immediately after such incidents include trouble focusing, managing emotions, and negotiating relationships. The effects of childhood trauma also show up later in life: As adults, children who witnessed violence will be more likely to suffer from depression, deal with substance abuse, and struggle with obesity.
American school shootings are a relatively rare form of childhood trauma—albeit less so than they used to be. But many other experiences that can cause lasting psychological damage, such as parental incarceration and economic hardship, are relatively common. Indeed, a new report from Child Trends, a Bethesda, Maryland, nonprofit that conducts research on improving children’s lives, found that almost half of all American children have experienced at least one potentially traumatic “adverse childhood experience,” or ACE.
In “The Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences, Nationally, by State, and by Race or Ethnicity,” the authors Vanessa Sacks and David Murphey used data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health to determine which children 17 and under are more likely to experience trauma, and where these children live.
[For more on this story by MIMI KIRK, go to https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/02/the-complicated-map-of-trauma-in-the-us/554336/]