Giving Compass' Take:

• Shanta R. Dube explains how childhood experiences contribute to the health-education link, making reducing and addressing childhood trauma imperative for building long-term success. 

• How can funders help protect children and get the mental health support they need? 

• Learn about acknowledging trauma in communities

The interconnection between education and health is well established. The field of public health recognizes education is a social determinant of health and an indicator of well-being. It is critical to ensure that children have positive learning experiences while they are still young so that they can achieve educational success. This is one of the best ways to ensure that they can live healthier lives as adults.

Other researchers and I have contributed to widening body of research that shows how these experiences harm over the lifespan and across generations.

The developmental impact of exposure to severe forms of stress and trauma is not immediately visible. But abuse, neglect, poverty, and related stressful exposures can put children at risk for problems with healthy cognitive, social and emotional development, which can interfere with learning. Thus, research has shown that these adverse childhood experiences not only contribute to health outcomes, but there appears to be a link with adult educational attainment.

Knowing that education begins in childhood and acts as a social determinant of health, I decided it was time that we take a close look at how childhood adversities impact learning and education. To effectively address education as a social determinant of health, I have found that learning environments must include staff who have knowledge about trauma and symptoms of trauma.

Given all we know about the impact of toxic stress on the developing brain of children, more attention is needed on children’s education and learning in the context of adverse life experiences. To address education as a social determinant of health, ensuring children’s successful and positive educational experience while they are still young requires an increased awareness of the widespread but hidden problem of childhood adversities and their impact on learning.

Read the full article about how early childhood experiences affect education by Shanta R. Dube at The Conversation.