Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's)

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s)? There is more awareness and training in our area than ever before.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Graphic

We have partnered with Jean West, school social worker with the St. Joseph School District (SJSD), to promote ACE’s awareness to schools, agencies, and medical providers. Mrs. West has conducted book studies to strengthen our understanding of traumatic events on children and the effects that adverse childhood experiences can have on long-term health. It makes sense that a young person who has endured adverse childhood experiences could have emotional and behavioral fall-out as a result, but ACE’s studies indicate that it goes beyond “acting out” in childhood or as a teen. 

This landmark work points to ACE’s as a root cause of heart disease, obesity, lung disease, cancers and more – in adults. Adults who experienced traumatic events in childhood can grow up to face poor health outcomes due to those experiences. Trauma in young people can actually change the structure of the brain, making it increasingly difficult to make good decisions, focus, remember, and so much more.

There is good news, though! In addition to helping parents/caregivers deliberately design a safe and loving environment where children can thrive, we can educate professionals in settings where children and youth are found: medical, school, athletic, clergy, law enforcement personnel and others. We can teach those who impact youth the signs of children in traumatic situations. Adults can learn how to safely show kids that they are advocating for them (and how to appropriately advocate for themselves), they care for them and they encourage them

Educating adults about ACE’s is just one step. More and more practitioners are implementing ACE’s screening into their intake process in St. Joseph. An ACE screening evaluates children and adults for ACEs experienced by age 18 in the following categories:

  • Abuse: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
  • Neglect: physical and emotional neglect
  • Household dysfunction: parental incarceration, mental illness, substance use, parental separation or divorce, and intimate partner violence

Once an ACE score has been determined, a treatment plan can begin to take shape. The ACE score is just one component of overall health, but it is an important one. and it can impact a person for a lifetime. 

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, M.D., seen here in a ground-breaking TED Talk, has been at the forefront of promoting the ACE’s revolution, but there are many others who offer resources.

Additional Resources