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The Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences on the Mental Health of Children

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The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) partnered with Kaiser Permanente in 1995 to 1997, to conduct the original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Adverse Childhood Experiences are traumatic events that can have negative effects on health and well-being as a person mature. Kaiser Permanente is a not-for-profit integrated healthcare organization. Over 17,000 participants complete surveys about their childhood experiences, current health status, and behaviors in the ACE Study. The study found that with the trauma and stress from your childhood you are more likely to develop health issues. The health issues range from cancer, diabetes, depression, drug and alcohol addiction, and suicidal attempts. High stress response releases harmful chemicals in the brain that damages the brain development. Statistics show that 9 out of 10 Americans (89%) believe that abuse or neglect as child has an extreme impact on health as an adult. “Our earliest experiences may stick with us for years and continue to influence us well into adulthood” (Singh). How many times have you realized that your speech is like your parents (Lerner)? Adverse Childhood Experiences has a major affect on children, because ruin children core beliefs, cause mental health issues, and lead children down a path of destruction! “You developed three core beliefs during childhood that affect you today” (Morin).

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The core beliefs are how you feel about yourself, how you feel about others, and how you view the world. Your experiences from the messages you received from your elders as a child help determine the type of personality you will have. Your personality can range from caring, creative, optimistic, etc. Children with imbalances tend to have an unattractive personality, because they are pessimistic. “Our imbalances are invariably responses to something that happened to us in the past” (The School of Life). “Parents lay the foundation for many of our beliefs, values, attitudes, and parenting practices (Lerner). Therefore, a child seeing the negative in everything they do is known to have a weak foundation. Your core belief about your feelings toward the people you encounter depends on if they are trustworthy or not. Parents are your first teacher. When parents put their child through physical abuse, verbal abuse, or any other form of abuse, the child begin to believe that all people are the same. A child needs assurance to feel comforted during tough times, but the abuse ruins the compassion that they need from others to fulfill that need. The child will be afraid to trust anyone that they may need guidance from. Your feelings toward others lead to your core beliefs of the world and how bad the world is from your experiences. “Children who experience adversity are more likely to develop mental health problems than children who have never encountered adversity” (McLaughlin). Researchers examined how environmental experience shapes emotional, cognitive, and neurobiological development throughout childhood. The results found showed that about one-third of all mental disorders worldwide was due to the exposure of adverse childhood experiences. When dealing with trauma children become sensitive and end up developing social anxiety disorder as teenagers. A child trauma causes dysfunctional coping skills when he is emotional. “Hurt by a dismissive parent, we fell into patterns of emotional avoidance” (The School of Life). The child is weak to the fact where he will use self-harm as a coping skill. Unhealthy coping skills can lead to overall health issues. Examples of the health issues are lifetime depressive episodes, sleep disturbances, high-risk sexual behaviors, and poor dental health.

The development of interventions reduces mental health consequences. Studies from The University of Maryland show that a parent behavior during a child first year of life can cause an effect on the child as they mature, from 20 to 30 years later (Singh). Trying to please our parents become our second nature (The School of Life). We try to do things that we think will please our parents to feel accepted even if they do not appreciate it. “We suffer, because we are at huge cost too loyal to early difficult years” (The School of Life). Children start being disrespectful when something is not settling well with them, because they do not know how to express what they are going through. Parents have their child believing that they are not smart enough, so he tends to get poor grades and drop out of school. Over 80% of the incarcerated population are dropouts. Your beliefs affect the way you behave. Children start committing crimes as they get older due to not having the proper guidance and support they needed at home. A strong foundation in early years increases growth with a positive outcome (McLaughlin). Your parents play a major role in the parenting skills you have today. “Parents often re-create with their children what they experienced with their own parents” (Lerner). We can not blame our parents for the upbringing we had, because it is a generational curse that passed on to each household throughout the years. “There is always a logic and there is always a history” (The School of Life). You never know who may have had a rough childhood, so do not judge too quickly. Is there anything about the way your parents raised you that you do not want to rub off on your child? I made a promise to myself, that I will always show my children the compassion I hoped for as a child. I also make sure my children know that it is okay to come to me when they need comforting. It is my mission to not make the same mistakes ass my parents. Some children change for the better, but it will be too late for the others. You must train your brain to see things positively!An intervention program gives children the protection and healing they need from traumas they experienced.

There are parent education programs, home visit programs, and trauma informed care programs that give you the resources you need to move forward with a positive life. Parent Education Programs improves the lacking areas of parental skills to strengthen the relationship of families. Parent Education Programs offers them positive discipline techniques, development skills for children, bonding with children techniques, and locations of family resources. Home Visit Programs prevent child abuse, neglect, and encourages positive parenting. Home Visit Programs work with parents to set goals for the future. Trauma Informed Care Programs focuses on understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma Informed Care Programs will also help survivors rebuild a sense of control and confidence. There are many resources available to people who need help; they must make sure to use the beneficial information that they receive. If you keep a positive mind, wounds from your trauma will heal.

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