news & perspectives

news & perspectives

lasting effects of childhood trauma

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Keith pictured with his children.

Child abuse and neglect have devastating consequences not only for children, but also families and communities. In fact, science shows that experiencing abuse or neglect as a child can lead to struggles that last a lifetime. 

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that toxic stress caused by ACEs impedes brain development and increases the prevalence of health issues through adulthood. As a society, we are collectively paying for those poor health outcomes.

The CDC estimates that over the lifetimes of children confirmed as abused and neglected in one year, Massachusetts will pay over $2.6 billion. These are long-term costs associated with health care, substance abuse programs, homeless shelters, and the list goes on.

“During these early childhood years, adverse experiences affect the structure of the brain,” said Robert Sege, MD, PhD, Co-Director, Stakeholder and Community Engagement at Tufts University School of Medicine and member of the Children’s Trust Board of Directors. “So what we do for children, now, influences their entire lives.”

That’s why the Children’s Trust is committed to putting an end to child abuse in Massachusetts. 

Keith, who spent 12 years in foster care as a child, recently completed the Children’s Trust Nurturing Fathers program at the Hampshire County House of Corrections. The trauma of his childhood had negatively impacted his mental health and the life decisions he was making. 

Completing the Nurturing Fathers program helped change Keith’s outlook on life, handle situations better, make better decisions, and become a better father and person. Most important, Keith learned that he didn’t have to use violence as a way of communicating.

“If it wasn’t for the program, me and my kids wouldn’t have the relationship that we have today,” said Keith. “I want my kids to know that I’m doing everything I can to better myself so that I can be that father that I wasn’t before and that I never had.”

Your support helps us reach more families before the trauma of child abuse occurs.