Oklahoma’s rate of adverse childhood experiences like poverty and neglect have fallen.
According to the latest America's Health Rankings, 28.5% of Oklahoma kids experienced two or more adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, down from 32% the year before.
"We see some improvements there, and I believe that's because of the work that's being done in this area, but I believe we still have a long ways to go, because Oklahoma has the worst rate in the nation," said Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman.
The national average rate for kids experiencing ACEs was 20.5%, also a slight drop from recent years. Potential ACEs include parental divorce or separation, living with someone who had an alcohol or drug problem, neighborhood violence victim or witness, living with someone who was mentally ill, and the death of parent.
Dorman credits partnerships with state agencies in lowering Oklahoma's rate, such as the State Department of Education training teachers to recognize kids dealing with trauma.
"Having these different state agencies and different officials working on this topic, we know we're going to see better in the state, it's going to save taxpayer dollars in the long run, it's going to reduce the number of people going to prison, it's going to improve health conditions overall," Dorman said. "It's a generational issue that we have to fix, and we're starting with it right now."
One of OICA’s main goals is raising awareness for problems behind ACEs through education, reform and public discussions in order to continue to lower the number of children going through them.