A national study, called the ACE Study (for Adverse Childhood Experiences) was conducted by Kaiser and the U.S. Center for Disease Control with 17,000 adult participants1. It found a significant relationship between childhood stress and trauma and adult chronic disease. Some of the ACE indicators include witness to domestic violence, being a victim of abuse or neglect, alcohol and other drug abuse in the home, parental separation/divorce, mental illness in the family, death of a parent, and parent incarceration.
The greater number of adverse experiences a child has, the more likely he or she is to engage in drug/alcohol abuse, suffer from depression, and/or develop chronic diseases like heart, lung, and liver disease. The study also showed that even if the adults with ACEs DID NOT engage in unhealthy behaviors, they were still more likely to suffer from chronic disease due to the effect childhood stress has on the developing brain. ACEs literally change the brain structure and puts children in a constant state of fight or flight stress response. Science also shows that the stress from ACEs impact the part of the brain that regulates impulse control, which contributes to unhealthy behaviors.
Here are some of the findings of this national study:
- 67% of participants had at least 1 ACE
- 5% or 1 in 8 participants had 4 or more ACEs
- The higher the ACE score, the poorer the mental and physical health score. Those with higher ACE scores are 4.5 times more likely to have depression.
This is how our Friendship Club girls compare to these studies:
- While 20% of the 17,000 participants nationwide in the ACE study had three or more adverse childhood experiences, 47% of the girls served by The Friendship Club have been traumatized by at least three adverse childhood experiences.
- 83% of TFC girls have lost a parent through separation or divorce compared to 23% in ACE study (also worth noting, 1 in 4 TFC girls are being raised by someone other than a parent)
- 81% of TFC girls have a history of alcohol and/or drug abuse in the family compared to 27% in ACE study
- 41% of TFC girls have experienced physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse compared to 28% in ACE study
- 36% of TFC girls have a parent that has been or currently is incarcerated compared to 5% in ACE study
- 40% of TFC girls have been exposed to domestic violence in the home compared to 13% in ACE study
The most important things families and communities can do is provide supportive relationships to children with ACEs and teach them resilience skills such as stress management and healthy communication. The Friendship Club program provides this very support to our girls and paired with our long-term, comprehensive approach, we are able to provide girls the positive environment they need to thrive and grow into healthy young women. In addition to the exposure to positive life experiences and academic support, we excel in providing girls with supportive relationships between each other, our professional staff, mentors, other volunteers and community members.
By investing your volunteer time in this comprehensive and critical support program, you are helping us build resilience in our girls and helping us intervene in their lives while there is still time to mitigate the effects of ACEs. YOU are saving their lives.
Here are a few of the ways screened volunteers can help at The Friendship Club:
- After School Driver: Give a girl a ride from her school to The Friendship Club for her meeting
- Supper Crew: Cook nutritious suppers with guidance from our Meal Program Coordinator
- Mentor: Work 1:1 with a Friendship Club girl, training and support provided by our Community Engagement Manager
Please contact Cindy Hintz, Community Engagement Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 265-4311.
1 American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 1998, Volume 14, pages 245