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‘One in three children suffers sexual abuse’

Data analyst: Tara Hines, of the Bermuda Health Council (Photograph contributed)

One in three people said they experienced some form of sexual abuse as a child, according to a new survey.

More than 600 people took part in the adverse childhood experiences research conducted by the Bermuda Health Council in partnership with Family Centre.

The survey, which has been running on Family Centre’s website since March, also found:

• One in four people witnessed a parent or household member being physically abused, while three out of five people directly experienced physical abuse during childhood

• One third lived in a household where substance abuse was an issue, while one in ten lived in a household where a member was sent to jail or prison

• Three quarters saw or heard of someone injured in a road traffic collision, and half lost a friend or family member in a traffic collisions

• One in five people said cost prevented them from seeing the doctor when they needed to within the past year

• More than half of the people felt they were treated unfairly because of race sometimes

The research will be shared during a two-day conference on the issue starting today, organised by Family Centre, Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda and the Inter-Agency Committee for Children and Families.

Tara Hines, project associate in data analytics and outcomes research at the Bermuda Health Council, said that the research showed that adverse childhood experiences have caused trauma not only for victims, but the wider community.

It indicated that children have not only suffered trauma from personal experiences, but from things that happen to others around them.

Ms Hines told The Royal Gazette: “We are seeing a lot of people who are reporting on trauma they have experienced almost second hand.”

Ms Hines said that residents appeared to share the burdens of the community, and added: “This may speak to the culture of Bermuda.”

She noted that 78 per cent of the respondents were women and said the survey would be extended to hear from more men.

Ms Hines said: “We would really love to have more men participate in the research.”

She identified road crashes as a main area of trauma that impacts on both the victim and the wider community.

And she said that people from all social backgrounds were at risk of developing a chronic illness.

Ms Hines added: “The trends that we are seeing are that there are actually higher chronic disease burdens among the most educated.”

She said this was not a trend observed in other countries.

People who have experienced two or more traumas were more likely to develop a chronic disease.

Ms Hines said that findings in the research — which will be released to the public — could be used to shape policies to reduce the cost of healthcare.

The first day of the conference will focus on understanding and addressing racial trauma, at HSBC on Front Street, from 9.30am to 5pm.

The second day will focus on the economics of adverse childhood experiences, at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club from 9am to 4.30pm.