The Growing Interest In ACEs And Trauma-Informed Practices


So much is happening in events, reports, research and news about adverse childhood experiences and trauma informed practices that it’s hard to keep up. But here are a few notable results:

According to Dr. Robert Anda, one of the co-founders of the CDC’s ACE Study, 21 states have done or are completing their own ACE surveys.

At last month’s National ACEs Summit in Philadelphia, PA, two unifying themes emerged: to be successful in preventing childhood trauma and to stop further traumatizing children and adults who are already
traumatized, people have to work across professional silos and systems, and the changes have to occur at the community level. In other words — this isn’t a top-down endeavor. Martha Davis, executive director of the Institute for Safe Families, which hosted the summit, wrote up six interesting short overviews of the presentations. She and Kristin Schubert of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which sponsored the summit, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer this week.

At that same meeting, ISFS released an ACE survey of Philadelphia – the first of a major U.S. city. The acelogo (1)results were grim:  37.3% of adults experienced 4 or more ACEs — three times higher than the 12.5% in the CDC’s ACE Study. That works out to 432,100 people. This substantially increases their risk of long-term health effects. But, as to the city’s resilience factors, the results were also hopeful: 85% felt the “neighborhoods in which they grew up in were safe”, 77.5% thought their “neighbors looked out, supported, and trusted each other”, and 92.3% said that “someone made them feel special while growing up”.
A couple of days ago, the Commission to Build a Healthier America, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, presented its reports at a public meeting in Washington, D.C. There was a LOT of emphasis on building healthy communities and working across silos to do so. This was recognized as a key to helping individuals become healthy or maintain health. You can take a look at the commissioners’ testimonies here — they’re pretty short.
On ACEsConnection, the companion social network to ACEsTooHigh, our resource admin, Chris Engel, posts 10 to 20 summaries and links to news and research almost every day. Some examples — Building a Trauma-Informed System of Care for Children in Connecticut, and New Resource for Communities to Identify and Tackle Animal Abuse. She says she can’t keep up with all the developments. Here’s a link to her daily posts. ACEsConnection has more than 1,100 members now.
The story about how Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, saw an 85% drop in suspensions the first year it instituted a trauma-informed approach to school discipline obviously hit a nerve when I published it last year. It went viral on Reddit, and had 375,000 page views. In the last month, it’s had a viral revival via Facebook — another 260,000 page views.
Because of that piece, the California Endowment funded a series of stories I’m doing about how schools are moving from a punitive to a compassionate approach to school discipline. I spent the last year researching and visiting schools, and over the next six weeks will be publishing a series of school profiles. The introduction — “The secret to fixing school discipline? Change the behavior of adults” —  is here.

Written By Jane Stevens

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One Response

  1. njsmyth July 26, 2013

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