More Than One in Five U.S. Kids Has Had Multiple Adverse Experiences

Posted February 11, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
More than 1 in 5 U.S. kids has had multiple adverse experiences.

Twen­ty-two per­cent of chil­dren in the Unit­ed States — more than 15.6 mil­lion kids total — have had two or more adverse expe­ri­ences, accord­ing to the lat­est results from the Nation­al Sur­vey of Children’s Health.

The term adverse child­hood expe­ri­ences refers to a num­ber of poten­tial­ly trau­mat­ic events, includ­ing episodes of sex­u­al, phys­i­cal or emo­tion­al abuse as well as expo­sure to hard­ships like parental divorce and parental incar­cer­a­tion. Such events can have neg­a­tive and last­ing effects on a child’s well-being and have been linked to increased risks of obe­si­ty, alco­holism and depres­sion, accord­ing to research.

At the state lev­el: Chil­dren liv­ing in the South and South­west are gen­er­al­ly more like­ly to have mul­ti­ple adverse expe­ri­ences when com­pared to their peers in oth­er parts of the coun­try. The rate is high­est in Ari­zona, where 31% of kids have two or more adverse expe­ri­ences. At the oth­er end of the spec­trum sits New York and Mary­land, where 15% of kids fit this statistic.

Data on adverse child­hood expe­ri­ences also vary by race and eth­nic­i­ty. Amer­i­can Indi­an (37%) and African Amer­i­can (34%) chil­dren are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more like­ly to have mul­ti­ple adverse expe­ri­ences com­pared to their white (19%) and Asian (7%) peers, accord­ing to the Nation­al Sur­vey of Children’s Health.

Access fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty data on the KIDS COUNT Data Center:

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