Who is at risk?

The early years are hugely influential on wellness outcomes. Lieberman (2011) discusses the overwhelming effects of trauma on early childhood and later life outcomes. Trauma experiences in early childhood “shatter the expectable trust that adults can protect them” (Lieberman, 2011). Exposure to violence and trauma in early childhood has detrimental effects on overall development. Researchers have shared “solid evidence that underscores the role of positive, early experiences in strengthening brain architecture and a growing understanding of how significant adversity damages brain circuits and undermines lifelong learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health,” yet we have few intervention methods and ways of protecting children from early adversity (Lieberman, 1998, p.365). Issues of adversity even affect the developing in utero child;  “domestic violence during pregnancy has more damaging effects than medical conditions that are routinely screened for” and can cause problems such as low birth weight and later developmental problems (Lieberman, 2011). As violence and other early adversities are so impactful on the child’s development and outcome, it is necessary to support children and their families to form positive and supportive environments for the developing child. Lieberman (2011) also discusses how some populations are at higher risk for early adversities. This includes “children living in poverty, children from ethnic and racial minorities, younger children, and children from single parent families” (Lieberman, 2011). The study by Evans (2013) assessed the effects of poverty on child outcomes. The study found “the proportion of time spent in poverty from birth to age 9 significantly predicted externalizing symptoms and learned helplessness in emerging adulthood while controlling prior externalizing (age 9) and learned helplessness (age 9) levels, respectively” (Evans, 2013, p. 290). The effects of poverty are imperative due to the high occurrence of children in poverty.  Evans (2013) emphasized that “approximately 25% of American children currently spend all or part of their early childhood growing up in poverty ” (Evans, 2013, p. 287). In order to minimize the impacts of early adversities, we need more programs to support families and young children to protect them from the adversities of poverty and other risk factors.