“Adverse Childhood experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today”-Dr. Robert Block (Former President of American Academy of Pediatrics)
Adverse Childhood Experiences or “ACEs” is when an individual experiences violence, abuse, or neglect. This violence can be caused by family members or the community. A child growing up in this environment can cause long-term health risks. (CDC, 2021)
Children who grow up in homes that have instability, such as, parents being separated or a parent/s in jail or prison, household members that substance abuse, or have mental health issues. Can cause an ACE score to increase. The higher an ACE score means the higher the risk of later health problems. “ACE scores don't tally the positive experiences in early life that can help build resilience and protect a child from the effects of trauma (NPR,2015).”
Health issues that are caused by ACEs are severe obesity, depression, substance abuse, heart disease, cancer, and more. (NPR, 2015). “ACEs can also cause a negative impact on education, job opportunity, and earning potential, However, ACEs are preventable. (CDC,2021)”
Notice visible signs of stress. Is the child distracted or withdrawn? Is the child having nightmares? Is the child acting out? Trama is sometimes misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Trauma is not just family issues “ trauma [can stem] from poverty, for example, or from the chronic stress of racial or gender discrimination. (NPR,2015)
Having a kind conversation with a child can be beneficial. “ [It’s] been shown to help children with later learning and literacy. Even more important, they boost kids' resilience, by helping them build secure attachments with caring adults. Research suggests that just one caring, safe relationship early in life gives any child a much better shot at growing up healthy (NPR,2015)”.
There are many ways to help prevent trauma, The CDC has information on ways to reduce ACEs. (https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html) Even one individual can change the life of many. Having support in a community can be a great way to build a secure and safe environment for children and ultimately reduce the number of ACEs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 2). Adverse childhood experiences (aces). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/index.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 6). Preventing adverse childhood experiences |violence prevention|injury Center|CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, January 18). Violence prevention at CDC |Violence prevention|injury Center|CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/about/index.html
Starecheski, L. (2015, March 2). Take the ace quiz - and learn what it does and doesn't mean. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/02/387007941/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean
TEDtalksDirector. (2015, February 17). How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ovIJ3dsNk
What are aces? and how do they relate to toxic stress? Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2020, October 30). https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/aces-and-toxic-stress-frequently-asked-questions/