One theory why older people did not report as much childhood abuse is that since these takes a toll on health in adulthood, many of these older abuse victims may have died early, Edwards said. The CDC report, for example, notes that adverse childhood experiences are associated with a higher risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, substance abuse and premature death. "So [childhood abuse] may be associated with years of life lost," she said.
There was no difference in the number of people reporting childhood abuse in any other age group, Edwards added.
Adverse childhood experiences included in the report included verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, incarceration of a family member, family mental illness, family substance abuse, domestic violence and divorce.
According to the report, about 7.2 percent had had a family member in prison during their childhood and 16.3 percent had witnessed domestic violence in the family home. In addition, about 29 percent grew up in a home where someone abused alcohol or drugs. "These cases occur across all racial groups and ethnicities," Edwards noted.
Almost one in five respondents (19.4 percent) had lived as a child with someone who was depressed, mentally ill or suicidal, the report noted.
Although the volume of abuse and dysfunction is significant, such traumatic experiences cannot be used to describe a person or determine what that person will be, the researchers cautioned. Instead, they said, keeping track of these abusive experiences is important to gain a better understanding of them and their effect on society.
In addition, it's crucial to work harder to prevent abuse and household stress as well as finding better ways to identify and treat children at risk, they said.
"For adults who have had these experiences and feel they are st
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