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Why did they post THAT on ACEs Connection???


From time to time, one of you will send me this message: Why did you post a link to THAT article on ACEs Connection? What does it have to do with ACEs science, trauma-informed or resilience-building practices?

So, I thought I’d riff on this a bit, especially since the ACEs movement seems to be growing to reach another level of development. We’ll soon be 25,000 strong on this social network! Although we still need to educate people about ACEs science, there’s a lot of foundational work being done now in organizations, systems and communities that’s producing amazing results (including good data), which will spread and multiply, and benefit children and families in the long run.

How we define ACEs: We have always considered the 10 adverse childhood experiences in the CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study as the starting point....the 10 that proved the concept (concept detailed below). The 10 are, as many of you already know: physical, verbal and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect; a family member who’s alcoholic or addicted to other drugs, who’s incarcerated, who’s depressed or has other mental illness; witnessing a mother being abused; experiencing parental divorce or separation. 

But there are many, many others. Other types of ACEs listed in other ACE surveys — including the Philadelphia Urban ACE Study and the World Health Organization, and being measured by scientists such as Dr. Martin Teicher — include racism, bullying, involvement with the foster care system, witnessing violence outside the home, living in an unsafe neighborhood, losing a family member to deportation, living in a war zone, being a refugee, witnessing a sibling being abused, witnessing a caregiver being abused, not having enough food, being homeless, moving often, experiencing a serious life-altering accident or serious chronic illness, etc. In other words, an ACE is anything that traumatizes a child and sets off that harmful cascade of toxic stress hormones, and where there is no relief or assistance from a caregiver to recover. RYSE has included representation of some of these by adding two layers to the ACE pyramid (the main image at the top of this blog post). And Wendy Ellis includes some of these in the “Pair of ACEs” tree, below.  


The concept (since proven by the rest of ACEs science): There is a link between childhood adversity and adult onset of chronic physical/mental illness, violence, and being a victim of violence; ACEs are extraordinarily common (2/3 of the Kaiser population had at least one); the higher the score, the riskier the consequences (e.g., with four ACEs, the risk of alcoholism increases seven-fold); ACEs contribute to most of our major chronic health, mental health, economic health and social health issues; and it doesn’t matter what the types of ACEs are: An ACE score of 4 that includes divorce, physical abuse, an incarcerated family member and a depressed family member has the same statistical health consequences as an ACE score of 4 that includes living with an alcoholic, verbal abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect.

How we define ACEs science: This includes the ACE Study and other ACE surveys; the neurobiology of toxic stress, particularly on children’s developing brains, but also on adults’ brains (if an adult is experiencing toxic stress, it’s likely that’s passed on to any children in the family); the short- and long-term health consequences; the epigenetic consequences, which includes historical trauma handed down through generations (African-Americans through the effects of slavery and the American Indian nations through genocide and losing homelands), as well as how the social environment can turn genes on and off; and the good news that resilience research shows that people, organizations, systems and communities can heal. 

ACEs, by definition, occur during childhood. But that doesn’t mean we stop looking at the effects of trauma at age 18. Without intervention and healing, people who are traumatized as children carry that trauma into adulthood….and pass it on to their children. We have created our organizations, systems and communities that deal with the effects of that trauma — whether it’s unhealthy, criminal or unwanted behavior — in the only way we knew how before we learned about ACEs science: by blaming, shaming and/or punishing (or throwing oceans of information at people). In other words, re-traumatizing people who have been traumatized. Add the United States’ structural racism to that, and we can see that our organizations and systems are embedded in layers of trauma. 

So that means, for us to solve our most intractable problems, every organization, every system in all sectors, every community, every nation, has to integrate practices based on ACEs science. 

Hence, we link to six to 12 articles and essays a day about housing, green space and nature, juvenile justice, welfare  policy, refugee policy, data mining and analytics, homelessness and education. Some of these articles address solutions, such as these from social services and business. And some look at problems, such as this one from the prison system and policy regarding federal resources for children. There isn’t one organization or system in any sector that cannot benefit from integrating practices based on ACEs science. Not one. 

One reason we post links to articles about problems in organizations and systems that obviously need an infusion of ACEs science is to show how far we are from a tipping point, and as inspiration for those of you who work in the type of organization or system featured, or in the community where the organization is located to keep up the good work of educating people about ACEs science!

There's no doubt that integrating practices based on ACEs science can result in remarkable change: Here’s what happened in Cowlitz County, WA, when they integrated the Self-Healing Community Model

Over 10 to 15 years:

Births to teen mothers went down 62% and infant mortality went down 43%;

Youth suicide and suicide attempts went down 98%;

Youth arrests for violent crime dropped 53%;

High school dropout rates decreased by 47%.

If you want more examples of how different sectors are integrating practices based on ACEs science, go to ACEs Science 101. 

Some of those blog posts listed were written by our journalists or ACEs Connection members who write essays or articles. We invite you to do one or both.

If you post an article written by someone else, whether it’s a news article or essay, be sure to use the headline of the article as it appears in the publication as well as the publication’s name in the title. Copy two to four paragraphs of the article and then link to the rest of it. Like this. Due to copyright issues, we cannot replicate the entire article.  

If you want to post an article or essay that you’ve written, you can post twice a week, but not more than that, to give as many people as possible the chance for their posts to receive the attention they deserve. If you want to use a post from your personal blog, and you want it to be included in the Daily Digest or the Weekly Roundup, be sure to include the entire post, not just a few graphs and a link. You can provide a link to your blog at the end of your post.  

Some of our best posts come from ACEs Connection members; I so value your participation in this social network. You’re the heart and soul of this movement, a movement whose wings are growing and beginning to help us to leap into the air and soar.   


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Thanks for this, Jane. I think the more one learns about ACEs, the harder it gets to come up with topics that AREN'T somehow tied to ACEs science, trauma-informed approaches, and resilience building. And it can increase compassion toward others like little else I've come across.

The world yearns for good news: THIS IS IT. There is a cause and effect. Self-healing communities DO HEAL! How cool is this? Please share widely!

Shared widely! Please join me in sharing this piece! Tweet it. Post it on LinkedIn! The proof of The Self-Healing Community Model is in the numbers!

 The copy in bold type below needs to be plastered on billboards and the sides of buses, sung about it songs, shared in PTA meetings, hammered in candidates' speeches, shared in homilies and sermons and in the remarks of imams and rabbis. It needs to be in public service announcements and shared in posters in schools, doctors' offices and polling places, courtrooms and boardrooms and grocery store bulletin boards!

Seriously: Print it on the shopping bags at Whole Foods and Sprouts! Put it on bumper stickers. Post it in the banner of your website. Send it to your congress humans, your governor, your mayors, your police chiefs, your school superintendents, county managers and commissioners.

Thank you, Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Robert Anda for having the courage and conviction to do the ACEs Study. Thank you, Jane Ellen Stevens, for your vision in seeing this science as a solution to myriad intractable community, national, and global problems -- from structural racism and multi-generational oppression to global warming; poverty and violence to maternal and infant mortality; the school-to-prison pipeline to income and housing inequality; the $3 trillion the U.S. spends on healthcare, when most adult disease is the result of childhood trauma, to the millions of Americans in prison, when the root cause of most of society's problems are, in fact, childhood trauma.

ACEs science helps people and communities let go of blame, shame, and punishment and instead embrace understanding, nurturing, healing. Best of all, again, the proof is in the numbers, and in the happier, healthier people those numbers represent:

"There's no doubt that integrating practices based on ACEs science can result in remarkable change: Here’s what happened in Cowlitz County, WA, when they integrated the Self-Healing Community Model

Over 10 to 15 years:

Births to teen mothers went down 62% and infant mortality went down 43%;

Youth suicide and suicide attempts went down 98%;

Youth arrests for violent crime dropped 53%;

High school dropout rates decreased by 47%."

Last edited by Carey Sipp

Thanks so much for all you do to shine a light of hope onto ACEs and the amazing work being conducted in the name of enlightenment. Thank you for the guidance, as well. I love being a part of this community and learning on a daily basis from the vast array of articles and blogs. If I come across something that does not pique my interest . . . I scroll on by. Truthfully though, most of the featured links catch my eye. What a wonderful resource!



Melissa Charbonneau posted:
I imagine that you get many, many of emails asking that question….Hang in there. Like you say, things….they are a changing.
Melissa Charbonneau

Thanks, Melissa!

Thank you! ACEs cannot be thoroughly examined and addressed without seeing the systemic legacy of racism, oppression, and poverty. I heard something this morning in a discussion about Parkinson's, "when you see one person with Parkinson's, you've seen one person with Parkinson's." The disease manifests differently in each patient. So it is with ACEs. We can determine from a cluster of symptoms that there is a problem, but we need individual plans to provide treatment. Each child responds differently to ACEs. The better prepared we are and the more willing we are to confront our own biases (re: Why did they post that?), the more our clients will benefit, and the more informed policies will be.

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