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Unprecedented childhood trauma hearing in U.S. Congress on July 11 to feature data from new state fact sheets on ACEs prevalence, impacts


A hearing of unprecedented scope and depth (this link will take you to a list of witnesses and all of their statements plus an overview memo on the hearing from committee staff) on ACEs science and childhood trauma — "Identifying, Preventing, and Treating Childhood Trauma: A Pervasive Public Health Issue that Needs Greater Federal Attention" — will be held today in the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. You can watch the live stream at 10:00 am ET through this link.

Nine witnesses will present testimony in two panels— trauma survivors will share their personal stories on the first panel followed by expert witnesses from academia and local, state, and federal government on the second panel. Witnesses include William Kellibrew, an activist from Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Debra Houry of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), James Henry, Former Tennessee Deputy Governor, and Charles Patterson, Health Commissioner, Clark County, Ohio. The length of the hearing is not specified.  

The hearing will address the prevalence and impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and the adequacy of the federal response to trauma. Testimony by one of the nation's leading researchers on ACEs science, Dr. Christina Bethell, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, will draw upon state information on ACEs prevalence and key outcomes for children and adults. Some of this information is now available in new fact sheets using 2016/2017 NSCH (National Survey of Children’s Health) data and recent data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS).

The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), from which the fact sheets were developed, aims to advance policies to catalyze well-being across the nation by addressing the ACEs epidemic and tailoring fact sheets for each state. Bethell is the founding director of CAHMI. In addition to state fact sheets, there are also fact sheets for national data and the District of Columbia. 

These fact sheets were designed to provide a succinct overview of ACEs prevalence and impacts at the state level to generate local awareness and action. Advocates should find them useful in their work with public officials, the media, and other stakeholders across sectors. While national data is valuable, local advocates and officials often find local data more relevant and useful in developing responses to local problems, especially when a comparison with the national level and other states is possible. 

Additional information and resources, including an issue brief, “A national and across-state profile on Adverse Childhood Experiences among U.S. children and possibilities to heal and thrive,” which was published in 2017, are available in the “Childhood Trauma and Positive Health” section of the CAMHI website. 

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Unfortunately, I can share with you that there will probably not be any coverage.  I did a quick search and didn't come up with anything. Unless reporters were purposefully brought to the hearing, things like this tend to not receive coverage. I've advocated for children's issues for 20 years, and unless it is a hot trendy topic, most day to day progressions receive little coverage. What this does do however is provide a great foundation for future support.

I think as advocates we should all send Elijah Cummings a letter full of gratitude and support for the hearing, and ask for next steps. If you live in a state represented at this hearing, let them know you are grateful. If you rep was not involved in this hearing, contact them with a link to the hearing and let them know how important this issue is to you and why more needs to be done. And thank the experts for their clarity, their advocacy, and their energy, very positively received by everyone. 

And if you haven't shared yet on social media, do. Here is the last quote from Dr. Bethell, which I posted with a screen shot of her: ""Healing is prevention. We are at a point in this endemic, meaning it has escalated to a point that even if you don't have ACEs you are impacted. And so it is all of us. Healing has to lead the process for prevention. Because if we offer things and they aren't used because there is too much trauma its not going to really work ....We need to build in social infrastructure and that will play out. It is time for that investment, when our sciences and our lived experiences can finally meet policies that pay for and invest now. And we will save later, and we will also have a lot more joy and well-being as a country." - Dr. Cristina D. Bethell, Director, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 
-House of Representatives Hearing - Cmte of Oversight & Reform, Identifying, Preventing, and Treating Childhood Trauma, July 11, 2019

If we want more, we need to let decision makers know we are grateful for what they have done. And offer yourselves if you wish to get involved in  future efforts regarding trauma. 

Posted this on Community Manager's site this morning!


Thanks for this story, Elizabeth!

This hearing was long, long overdue, of course. And I am thrilled that it finally happened.

Now I want to see how much coverage has come out on it.

I watched Thursday and Friday to see what I hoped would be a deluge of stories. 

There were the stories, and thank goodness these are being told, about about babies and children continuing to be held in squalid conditions — worse than homeless dogs in animal shelters — in U.S. detention centers near the border and elsewhere. Stories about an alleged billionaire sex trafficker of underage women finally being put in jail; Twitter wars between public officials; a music mogul who is accused of sex crimes against underage women finally being charged with more of the crimes, and stories about the slow moving rains again terrifying and threatening the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. Among these and others stories there were also blips about dysregulated (my word choice) members of the “Alt-Right” media picking fights with mainstream media in the White House Rose Garden. 

AND YET — where are the stories about this hearing and the testimonies of what we know is happening to the brains children who are victims of trauma? Stories from this fact-filled hearing that could explain why exposing our children to the chaos they see all around them is traumatizing? Stories about how living through the trauma of climate-change induced mega-storms and the aftermath of homelessness, instability, poverty, and lack of government support in areas such as the FL Panhandle following hurricane Michael has so terrified children that, now, 10 months later, when there are thunderstorms, the children still cry and wet themselves? Stories about how what we have allowed to have happen to these precious, innocent immigrant babies and children is damaging their brains, minds, bodies, and souls in ways we know to be lifelong and multi-generational? 

Thank God for Dr. Christina Bethel and her groundbreaking research and reporting on the state of each state.

And I am wondering, where are the “mainstream media” stories connecting the dots between the trauma we’re seeing people live in and the outcomes we know may come from it?  Where are more stories about what the heroes highlighted in the hearings are doing and have done to help other trauma survivors heal and prevent further trauma?

Will you please help me find the stories that connect the dots?

If you’re reading this and you saw coverage of the hearings in any major newspaper or news outlet, please make a comment here and past the link to the story along with your comment  as this is a personal quest to see how much coverage there was, and to help promulgate what coverage there was and is yet to come, in hopes of there being more attention brought to the information shared in the hearings. 

The news shared in the hearings needs to be out and shared with policymakers and stakeholders in our communities, where, at the grassroots level, we can continue to educate, engage, activate, and celebrate work being done to prevent and heal childhood trauma, while at the same time we help build individual, family, and community resilience. 



This was well done. I shared the ACEs Connection URL for those reading the comments during the live stream so that people could find this community. Hoping that the passion and energy generated during this hearing translates into programming and systems change to better support kids, and help parents heal from intergenerational trauma.

I'm hoping transcriptions will be made of the testimony for public access. And I also hope the news media networks and cable news report on this event loudly.

Thank you Elizabeth for the detailed resource links.

Elizabeth Fitzgerald posted:

Any word on how this might impact SB 774? The bill hasn't seemed to budge since 2017?

Overall, very good news. How many of us have to say the root cause of ALL of it is trauma?


Elizabeth, SB 774 (Heitkamp-Durbin bill) died in the last Congress.  In the current 116th Congress, another bill—one that is streamlined—was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Durbin and the companion introduced in the House by Rep. Davis. Here's a post that reports on the new legislation and provides a little background on the evolving situation since the Heitkamp-Durbin bill.  As I understand it, the hearing on July 11 is one step toward the introduction of another bill relating to trauma.  The efforts will hopefully complement each other.  This is very good news, as you say.  

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