Children with Adverse Experiences

Childhood trauma is much more common than we perceive. Each year millions of children across the United States experience some sort of trauma whether it is child abuse, neglect,  exposure to violence, family alcohol or drug abuse, or poverty. It is great that we as a society know about the millions of children exposed to trauma, but what about the millions we do not know about? It is essential that we understand how childhood adversity creates negative, long-term effects on the child’s mind and body. Turning a blind eye to childhood adversity has caused our nation to pay a tremendous human price, societal price, and economic price for the degree of childhood adversity and resilience our children experience.


In this article, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health touches on the connection between brain structure and early experiences of trauma. The prefrontal cortex does not fully develop until about the age of 25 (Rousseau, 2020). The prefrontal cortex is responsible for a variety of complex cognitive behavior such as planning,  personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior (Rousseau,2020). When an individual experiences trauma it causes developmental issues in the prefrontal cortex. Childhood adversity leads to the inability to self regulate emotion and disrupts healthy development in adulthood (Children Health, 2017). It also causes behavioral, emotional, school, and health problems during childhood and adolescence (Children Health, 2017). There is an 80% likelihood that if exposed to one of these categories as a child, an individual will experience alcoholism and alcohol abuse, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, drug use, heart disease, liver disease, risk of partner violence, smoking, suicide, and overall a decline in a healthy and robust quality of life (Rousseau, 2020). 


Unlike many articles on Childhood adversity,  the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health discusses the connection between resilience and children with adverse experiences. Resilience is defined as an adaptive response to hardship. In other words, a child’s ability to recover and cope with adverse experiences. Many researchers do not touch on the topic of resilience, however it may play a major role in adverse childhood experiences. The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health explains that resilience involves a combination of internal and external factors (Children Health, 2017). Understanding the factors involved with resilience and how resilience is strengthened contributes to allowing society to better support a child recovering from trauma. 


As mentioned previously, each year millions of children across the United States experience some sort of trauma. The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health does not simply discuss the adverse childhood experiences, but policy implications designed to help to prevent ACEs, as well as to ensure early identification and intervention for parents and children affected by trauma (Children Health, 2017).  In the end, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health demonstrates how developing policies and program options to help prevent, interrupt, and mitigate the effects of childhood adversity contributes to our ability to protect these children. 


References :

“Childhood Adversity and Resilience Summary.”, 2017,   


Rousseau, D. (2020). Module 2: Childhood Trauma. Retrieved from

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One comment

  1. Thank you for this excellent post, I had no idea about the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. I am glad an organization like this is working hard to make the lives of these children better. I am going to do more research on this foundation. Thank you for sharing these insightful ideas.
    – Hillary

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