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Survey Finds Violence Pervasive In Childhoods of Philadelphians, Affecting Health

(Credit: Pat Loeb)

(Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Forty percent of Philadelphians witnessed violent incidents while they were growing up, according to a groundbreaking survey that attempts to figure out the impact of adverse childhood experiences on adult health.

The survey was the first to estimate the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (“ACEs”) in Philadelphia, and the first anywhere to look at the impact of larger environmental factors such as unsafe neighborhoods.

Mary Harkins-Schwarz of, Public Health Management Corp., which conducted the survey, presented the results today at a National Summit on ACEs here in Philadelphia.

“For almost all the measures, we are higher — and that’s statistically significant — when you look at Pennsylvania and the five (other) states (where data on ACEs is collected),” she said today.

Among the findings: 30 percent were verbally abused as children, 33 percent were physically abused.

Overall, 37 percent had four or more adverse experiences which have been linked to later health problems.

The news was not all bad. Though 40 percent saw violence, most said they felt safe in their neighborhoods.

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