Study: TN Childrens' Well Being Dropped; Shows Room For Improvement

Posted at 7:21 PM, Jun 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-21 20:29:50-04

According to the KIDS COUNT study, children's overall well being in Tennessee has dropped and could improve. 

Experts said the experiences young and growing children go through have a direct impact on who they become in school and in life. Tennessee ranks those numbers by an overall child well being score.

Unfortunately,  the State has room for improvement. It slipped from 36 in 2015 to 38 in 2016 according to the KIDS COUNT Data Book. 

"That's largely due to worsening economic indicators," said Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth Executive Director Linda O'Neal. 

The study shows children who experience abuse, neglect, poverty and stress on a regular basis face more challenges as they grow up. "They have more difficulty paying attention in school, they have more behavior problems, and they're less likely therefore to be more successful in school, they're more likely to be suspended or expelled," O'Neal explained. 

ACE's can come from anywhere, including at home. In Tennessee more than one in four children lives in poverty, one in three have parents who do not have secure employment. Experts believe those day to day stresses have direct affects on young children.

"I think in Tennessee, what you had is that you have a lot of rural Tennessee that has not recovered economically, and when you have a home where there's economic stress or the parents are having a hard time coping with the stress in their life, that does flow over on the children," said Chris Peck, State Director of the ACE Awareness Foundation. 

The State will pump more than a million dollars into programs and policies that will help young children grow up in a nurturing and safe environment while giving their parents and the community the knowledge and tools to act.

"What we know is that those adverse experiences are not destiny they just increase the likelihood of negative outcomes unless there are the nurturing relationships that help children overcome them," O'Neal said. 

"Create a culture change in Tennessee to shift more resources towards the prevention of ACE's and spend less money frankly on after the fact interventions, whether it's special education, prison, long term health costs," Peck explained.