ACESTooHigh is a news site that reports on research about adverse childhood experiences, including developments in epidemiology, neurobiology, and the biomedical and epigenetic consequences of toxic stress. We also cover how people, organizations, agencies and communities are implementing practices based on the research. This includes developments in education,  juvenile justice, criminal justice, public health, medicine, mental health, social services, and cities, counties and states.

Jane Ellen Stevens is the editor of ACESTooHigh. If you want to contact me, do so at stevens.j.e.12 at gmail dot com. I welcome your tips, contributions, corrections and ideas.

I’m a long-time health, science and technology journalist. Before formally launching ACEsTooHigh and ACEsConnection in January 2012, I was director of media strategies at The World Company in Lawrence, KS, where we developed a local social journalism health news site called  WellCommons, which is a model for a network of local health sites I hope to establish in California.

I’m on an advisory group for ReportingonHealth.com, an online community of USC Annenberg’s California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships. Dr. Lori Dorfman of Berkeley Media Studies Group and I direct the Reporting on Violence project, which has operated out of the BMSG offices since the mid 1990s. I’ve taught at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and worked with a team to establish what is now the Knight Digital Media Center.

My background includes TV reporting for WGBH-TV; positions as copy editor, assistant foreign-national editor, sci-tech reporter and columnist for newspapers (Boston Globe, the old San Francisco Examiner); and as a video journalist for New York Times TV. I founded a health/science/technology feature service with more than 20 client news organizations worldwide. I’ve done magazine writing (Science, Nature, National Geographic, Technology Review, Los Angeles Times Magazine); was a multimedia journalist, doing reporting for Discovery Channel’s web site; and led teams to create TOPP.org and the Great Turtle Race of 2007, hosted by Yahoo!. I’ve been fortunate to live in and report from Kenya and Bali, Indonesia; have been to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on the deep-sea submersible Alvin, and to the “bottom of the world” in Antarctica three times on research icebreakers.

Fellowships awarded include two from the National Science Foundation and one from the Australia Antarctic Division for travel to Antarctica; a Reynolds Journalism Fellowship at the University of Missouri; and the Knight-McCormick Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. All of them changed and enriched my life immensely, and I am grateful and so lucky to have received them.

I’m also writing a book about adverse childhood experiences, and how people, organizations and communities are implementing trauma-informed and resilience-building practices based on research about childhood adversity.

Comments are welcome, as long as the discussion is civil. No cyber-trauma allowed.

47 responses

  1. Pingback: How Childhood Trauma Affects Adult Health: Get Your ACE Score | Left Coast Magazine

  2. My step-son almost drowned when he was 18 months old, he was blue when his dad pulled him out of the pool after several minutes. This now grown man has been troubled his whole life. On one hand he is brilliant, but on the other he has spent his life self-sabotaging himself (he is currently incarcerated). Yet he refuses to believe his near death/drowning experience has anything to do with who and what he grew up to be. Do you have any words about this kind of childhood trauma?

  3. Dear Jane,
    I just discovered AcesTooHigh. Wow. What a great thing! Thank you so much for doing this.

    My question is: if one has had had early childhood surgery, how is that addressed by the questionnaire? This is my primary trauma and that of my brother. I have two nephews who had large surgical interventions at birth and it’s pretty obvious they have been affected adversely. Perhaps this is too “global” a category to include in the questionnaire but I have just read articles indicating that anesthetics are very bad for the developing brain. Of course surgery is unavoidable in some cases. But at least if there was acknowledgement that it can cause trauma, it might help many people. Interested in your thoughts.

    Thanks, Cristal

    • Early childhood surgery — and recovery from surgery — is certainly traumatic. I don’t know about how anesthesia affects developing brains. The questionnaire addresses only 10 of many ACEs. The study itself was partly about the type of ACE (mostly to point out that things we may not have regarded as particularly traumatic, such as living with a family member who’s alcoholic or losing a parent to divorce, is indeed very traumatic), but more that childhood trauma does have long-term health, social and economic consequences.

  4. Dear Jane, thanks for your great serviceful site! I’m glad you are writing a book about this, the subject is so important. I’ve met Dr. Felitti at a conference of EMDR therapists in Austin, TX in 2013. It was amazing to me that though he has been invited to countless conferences by MDs, in 2013 he informed us that no one has informed him that they are now assessing clients routinely for their ACES score. I hope your book will help to educate the public to insist that that their doctor learn their ACE score and oversee their care accordingly. These people should be referred for effective therapy that helps people recover from stress or trauma (or PTSD). The two treatments approved by the World Health Organization for PTSD are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR therapy). I had a site designed to educate about the advantages of EMDR therapy: http://www.comprehensivetherapyapproach.com Please feel free to visit it. The video page is designed to be educational. EMDR therapists have written their patients often report a lessening of chronic illness symptoms as they clear more of their distressing memories.

  5. Jane,

    I changed my email address in ACEconnections and I am receiving confirmation (do not reply) emails that it has changed, but I cannot log in! I cannot even log into Hoop.la to ask them how to fix the problem. If somehow my email address can be returned to my original email address, I would appreciate it.

  6. What about an initiative themed along the lines of “Resilient ACEs Improve Wellness E3” with E3 being the Economic Employment Engine for every regional community in the country?

    Regional community stewardship, impact investing, & catalytic philanthropy are great models to unify all sorts of actors who would sponsor educational services maybe starting with a virtual subscription service and then instructional led workshops at community venues. Maybe align with IFTF and Quantified Self to weave youth, the new healthcare executives into how regional community hospitals and physicians networks guide patient well being.

    I have also been reading how pervasive mobile device use increases the stressors of the brain’s neural networks.

  7. My friend and I are doing an art installation to show how trauma impacts the body. We’ll have a hopscotch and the test, 1 hopscotch square to signify each question. We’ll educate about the impact. However, for those of us with high scores, what can be done to mitigate the stress/health impact on physical and emotional health? Is research being done on this? I love this site and the work.

  8. Pingback: Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline | Reclaiming Futures

  9. Pingback: Grassroots Change

  10. Pingback: The Fight for Black Men and Boys: What's trauma got to do with it? |

  11. Pingback: The Fight for Black Men and Boys: What's trauma got to do with it? | Diana Aubourg Millner

  12. Pingback: WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » The Cost of Trauma & Tales of Resiliance

  13. Pingback: Top U.S. health philanthropy – Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – awards ACEs Connection Network $384,000 « ACEs Too High

  14. Pingback: #956 A path from despair to hope | This Gives Me Hope

  15. Pingback: 1in6 | Sexual Violence – It Really Is A Men’s Issue

  16. Pingback: Sexual Violence: It Really is a Men's Issue - The Good Men Project

  17. Pingback: Resilience In The Face Of Adversity | E-stranged

  18. Pingback: Adverse Childhood Experiences = Aces too High | Healing Through Community

  19. I’ve been personally aware of ACE’s and the way they can adversely impact life for awhile now, like almost 70 years! In response I wrote a book that I give away for free: A Little Book of Parenting Skills (http://www.committedparent.com/ALBOPSforfreePDFpage.html)

    It’s a very small book because fewer and fewer parents are reading and because smaller has a better chance of being read. I wrote it in response to the poet Alice Walker’s claim that all family and institutional policy decisions should be made using one simple criterion: “Is it best for the children?” Feel free to download a free copy and distribute it far and wide.

  20. Jane: Thanks for your response. I think you are on to something: there is an “attention bandwidth” issue in modern society and it creates problems with supervision. People with addictions, high on drugs or alcohol are frequently mentioned in the articles I receive when their children drown or are found wandering. Then it goes poorly for the parent who is often arrested – inflicting more trauma into the family system. At least 1/3 of the daily news notices I receive involve child injury or death at the hands of (typically) a boyfriend or step-parent. I don’t usually post those or deal with those unless it involves an abused child wandering for help. Sometimes the mother will have been murdered and the survival instincts of the toddler are such that they will naturally wander for help.
    As the mother of 7 children, I have had an interest for many years regarding emotional abuse. This week at our local pool, I listened to a mother putting sunscreen on her children telling her son to “get your ass over here” so she could put sunscreen on him. He was only 3 feet away, and had been patiently waiting his turn. It broke my heart to see his face. It was so unnecessary – but she was in such a witchy mood to all her kids. So sad.
    I thought of writing a book called: The Tone in the Home.- Kind Ways to Make Simple Requests of Children. Just to stem the tide of vulgarity and brutality. Then there is the issue of those rare barbaric teachers, tenured, union-protected who are just cruel in their tone and treatment of children in the classroom. One year we had to pull our 12 year old son out of a class with a teacher who was known as a ‘screamer.’- due to retire in 2 years. That’s a whole other story but definitely a contributing factor to how children navigate the world. Best. Susan.

  21. Jane: I have started a new project, 12 years in the making, called The Toddler Awareness Project – Protocols for Parents. (find us for now on facebook. Blog is being updated.) The impetus for the project was my then 2 year old who would escape from us, at home, in public and then at the Smithsonian. When my husband suggested we buy a house with a pool in the backyard I researched not just pools safety, but pool safety failures, ie; news reports of child drownings. It led me to amass a collection, via google alerts, of thousands of stories of toddlers eloping, drowning, (doggie doors are big enablers), rolled over in driveways, climbing up to roofs, and getting hit in parking lots. “These things just happen,” people would say. Or, “People need to keep a better eye on their kids.” I saw patterns of how the situations unfolded and ways to subvert those dramas. Meanwhile, my husband was training military, law enforcement, pilots, doctors in urban survival using the principles of Situational Awareness. We compared notes and applied Situational Awareness to develop Protocols for Parents.
    I read about your site via Roy Peter Clark’s blog, and had to race over to see for myself. I’m very excited about your blog, and like many of the features. I’m trying now to configure a blog so that followers can have access to a steady stream of news stories focusing on child accidents, so their minds become trained to recognize the patterns.
    RE ACES: I’ve finished all my coursework for a MA in Counseling. I chose my internships in middle schools in our upper middle class suburban area. ACE’s would have been very useful to providing a deeper understand of the depth of the trauma. Love. Your. Project.

    Susan Reeve

    • Thanks for your kind words, Susan. And what a great project you’re developing. Maybe there’s an overlap — parents who neglect their children (intentionally or not) may be a significant group of those that have toddlers who have accidents. In other words, it’s probably difficult to have situational awareness if you’re depressed or traumatized by an event in your life. Just a thought.
      Cheers, Jane

  22. New National Data Just Released! For the first time, national data on the prevalence of ACES among US children is available. Findings from the 2011/12 National Survey of Children’s Health show that nearly a third of US youth age 12-17 have experienced two or more adverse childhood events (30.5%), with a range of 28.9% to 53.7% across US states. http://childhealthdata.org/browse/allstates?q=2614&g=448&a=4577

    Respond here or go to http://www.childhealthdata.org for more information!

  23. Pingback: Why it’s so important for parents to learn how to emotionally self-regulate. | Raising Smart Girls

  24. Pingback: Why it’s so important to learn how to emotionally self-regulate yourself first. | Raising Smart Girls

  25. Pingback: It’s the adults, stupid!; HBO child sex abuse doc; Philly gets $1.6m for trauma-informed care « ACEs Too High

  26. Hello, my name is Martin Vivek.

    I saw that you mentioned PTSD.VA.GOV along with a few other great resources
    on this page: [http://acestoohigh.com/2012/04/10/alexithymia-emotional-neglect-capitalism-how-are-they-related-2/]

    I wanted to recommend the addition of http://www.ptsdalliance.org/ which
    offers great information, has numerous resources, and also discusses
    substance abuse treatment. Something that many other organizations fail to
    recognize yet is a very common challenge people suffering from PTSD

    Let me know your thoughts and thank you for your time

  27. Jane, I’ve been on your mailing list since early June and find your posts more useful than any others I receive or go digging for. In my opinion, the ACE project is to Wellness Psychology what continental drift was to Geology — a unified field theory. It’s very exciting to watch it unfold and gain momentum. I run a non-profit (“social profit”) that believes youth voices can do a lot to heal the world. We write a column together that is published in several newspapers reaching about a million people a week. It’s can be read at http://www.straighttalkTnT.com. I plan to mention the ACE project in next week’s column. Thank you for your work, Lauren

    • Thanks, Lauren. LOVE the column you do with teens. You have an incredible history — and are obviously putting your past to work to benefit kids. I’ll put a link to the site on ACEsTooHigh.

      I hope you join this site’s social network, ACEsConnection. Nearly 500 people have joined so far, all by word of mouth. In the next few days, we’ll post a fairly extensive resource section and begin doing some outreach.

      Your analogy of ACEs being like the theory of continental drift is so very apropos.

      Cheers, Jane

      • Jane,
        Thank you for your kind words and for posting a link to Straight Talk TnT. Yes, I was very lucky to get involved with some great teachers and guides when I was in my early 20s, EST included. My brothers, too. We truly were blessed and guided.

        Your site has opened up so many realizations and I thought I’d share one with you. My maternal grandmother immigrated from Norway at age 9. Her parents sent for her and her 4-year-old sister. They had been in America for 2 years already, leaving the kids with an uncle. So she crosses the ocean alone to Ellis Island, 4-year-old sister in tow, speaking not a word of English, only to find them and then be immediately sent away to work in a doctor’s house as a live-in maid in Maryland. She never sees her parents or sister again — nor the doctor’s family after she turned 18, as they never adopted her and she moved to San Francisco.

        She was a very proper woman, worked her way through nursing school and became a nurse, eventually Director of the Bay Area Red Cross. Probably a workaholic, not a stay-at-home mom, anyway, and this is the 1930s. But, the point of this whole story is… I mean, can you imagine her ACE score?…. here’s this robust Norwegian woman who seems to come through everything, and then, in her sixties (now my grandma), becomes completely inflamed with arthritis all through her joints. Totally swollen and hospitalized for months unable to move.

        Big mystery to medicine right? Well, it’s solved now in my mind with toxic stress causing inflammation.

        Anyway, thought I’d share my revelation!! Thank you again for your work. I will join AcesConnection. — Lauren

      • Wow. That’s an amazing story….and makes so much sense. What an amazing woman, your grandmother!! Thanks for sharing it. I look forward to seeing you on ACEsConnection!
        — Jane

  28. Pingback: Diana Aubourg Millner: Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline « CrimeAlertBlog.Com

  29. Jane, this is fascinating stuff, I work with continuation junior high school students in West Sacramento and you are talking about 99% of them!

  30. Jane: You are obviously way out ahead on this issue and making a great contribution. We’re trying a little project in Mid-Michigan to try to answer the question we get from “millennials” — the 18-30 year old set who say: What can we do about this? Tough question, but there are lots of great organizations that are dedicated to reducing stress in the lives of children and families, and until we figure out how to do more, we’re simply trying to push interest in the direction of helping these organizations find more volunteers. You can find us at http://WWW.EveryChildIsYours.Org.

    • Love your site! When you publish the winning story, I’ll link to it from here so that we can spread the word about what millennials and others can do to make the world a safer place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s