Over time, the wrong kind of stress deforms young lives. Such stress often comes about when kids are exposed to traumatic experiences –abuse, neglect or parental addiction, for example. Researchers are finding that these early bouts with adversity have the power to disfigure young lives in lasting ways. As a general rule, the greater the stress and adversity you endure as a child, the more likely you’ll develop a whole Pandora’s box of health and social problems later in life.
Rigorous research has shown the connection, and as a result, there’s a growing awareness of “toxic stress” and “adverse childhood experiences” among researchers, nonprofits and health journalists. But in terms of policy and clinical practice, it’s not always clear how to respond. On the one hand, experts can point to several evidence-based therapies and interventions that have been shown to undo some of the effects of toxic stress and childhood trauma. On the other hand, one of the field’s leading figures routinely makes the case that we’re not doing enough, that we need bolder, more forward-thinking approaches.Share