Why study the lives of children?

A complex group of factors and traits reduce some children’s ability to cope with childhood pressures, and can increase problems they have in adulthood navigating the demands of home and work life. Issues such as antisocial behaviour, anger, aggression, anxiety, bullying, lack of readiness for school and school-related problems affect some children profoundly, as do special needs associated with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental and communication disorders.

Children’s mental health problems pose a tremendous burden and their consequences can last into adulthood. They are costly in financial and human resources for families and impact all of us.

The original Ontario Child Health Study reported an increased risk of childhood and subsequent problems for:

  • the 1 in 5 children who have a mental health problem
  • the 1 in 10 children who exhibit aggressive behaviour problems
  • the 1 in 3 children who experience physical or sexual abuse
  • the 1 in 20 teenagers who are clinically depressed
  • the 1 in 20 children who start school without adequate skills to learn
  • the 1 in 200 children who are diagnosed with autism
  • the 8 in 10 children who grow up in single-parent families
  • the 8 in 10 children who need treatment for mental health problems but never receive it