Trend Lines Blog

Welcome to Child Trends’ blog, Trend Lines, where we share key findings from child and youth research and offer insights to inform  policies and programs.

Are the children well? Why the conversations sparked by Robin Williams’ suicide must address the need to promote mental wellness among the nation’s youth

children wellRobin Williams’ suicide has once again brought the issue of mental health to the top of everybody’s news feeds on social media.  Many news stories have pointed to the fact that Williams’ death is indicative of recent trends in suicide nationwide – suicide is up sharply among middle-aged Americans in recent years and just eclipsed homicide as the second leading cause of death among teens for the first time in two decades.  Sadly, nearly 22,000 adults between the ages of 35 and 64 committed suicide in 2010.  However, it is important to realize that the CDC estimates nearly one in four adults in America struggles with mental illness each year, and almost half of Americans will experience a mental illness in their lifetime (including substance abuse).  These numbers may be shocking to some, but what many find most surprising is that nearly half of all lifetime cases of mental illness are estimated to start by the age of 14.
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Behind the Sharp Declines in Births Outside of Marriage

Nonmarital birth rates are going down. A new report by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that between 2007 and 2013, the nonmarital birth rate—which measures the number of births that occur in any one year to unmarried women (per 1,000)—declined 14 percent, from its peak of 51.8 to 44.8. This marks a dramatic shift after decades of steady increases. Notably, the declines are particularly steep among some of the most vulnerable populations, teenagers and minority women. Read More

The 29-Year Effects of Having an Educated, Non-Teen Mom

latina gradWhat if we could do a rigorous simulation that would tell us whether our interventions intended to benefit children played out as we wanted them to? What if there were a way to predict that, without time-travelling? The Social Genome Model does this.

The Human Genome Project mapped the genes of human beings in order to understand the role of the human genome in health and disease. The Social Genome Project maps other things that matter—such as birth weight, family of origin, academic outcomes, social-emotional skills, and college graduation—to determine their roles in enabling or impeding economic success (defined as reaching a middle-class income level as an adult). Read More

Understanding the Risks to the Children Crossing the Border

latin american teen

The crisis involving nearly 60,000 unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border over the last nine months has dominated the news in recent weeks.  Many of these children face fear and danger and as a result experience trauma before emigrating, during the journey itself, during their time in the U.S., and when, and if, they return to their home countries. As policymakers determine how best to address the crisis in the short term, it’s important to consider what research tells us about the effects of toxic stress on children and their long-term development. Read More

Glass Half Full: The Bright Side of ACEs Research

Parents swear, and children sufferIn recent months, it seems as if the public, and policymakers, have caught on to the science on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs, aka “toxic stress”) in a big way. The list of prestigious organizations and government entities collecting and reporting on ACEs data, providing summaries of the science, and implementing trauma-informed interventions include the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard University, at least18 states, the city of Philadelphia—and Child Trends.*

Why is this new research about ACEs important? Read More