The growing interest in ACEs and trauma-informed practices

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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 ain’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 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”.
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The CDC’s ACE Study summarized in 14-minute video from Academy on Violence & Abuse

The Academy on Violence and Abuse, which educates health care professionals about the often unrecognizable health effects of violence and abuse, produced a four-hour DVD of interviews with the co-founders of the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, released a 14-minute executive summary.

The organization released a three-minute teaser last year. For those unfamiliar with the ACE STudy, this 14-minute puts a little more meat on the bones.

And if you want to know what your ACE score is — as well as how you’re doing on building resilience into your life — go to the survey: Got Your ACE Score? The ACE survey has 10 questions, and the resilience survey has 14.

A 15-second look at how U.S. population became obese over 25 years

The Atlantic.com posted an animated graphic that takes us from 1985….

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…..to 2010. In just 15 short seconds, you can watch the obesity epidemic balloon across the U.S. The CDC defines obesity as having a body mass index that’s 30 or higher.

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Reporter James Hamblin also posted the 10 metropolitan areas with the lowest obesity rates, and the 11 with the highest. The pegs at either end are Boulder, CO, at 12.5 percent, and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX at 38.5%.

Obesity is linked to childhood adversity. One of the CDC’s ACE Study publications found a link physical, sexual and verbal child abuse and obesity in at least 8 percent of the adult obese population. If there are 70 million obese and morbidly obese Americans, as the CDC says, that means that several million obese and morbidly obese people are likely to have suffered physical, sexual and/or verbal abuse during their childhoods. (It should be noted that this particular publication looked at only three of the 10 types of adverse childhood experiences.)

A number of other researchers are looking into the link between obesity and childhood adversity. Here

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The secret to fixing school discipline problems? Change the behavior of adults

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Godwin Higa, principal, Cherokee Point Elementary School

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Two kindergarteners at Cherokee Point Elementary School in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood get into a fight on the playground. Their teacher sends them to the principal’s office. 

Instead of suspending or expelling the six-year-olds, as happens in many schools, Principal Godwin Higa ushers them to his side of the desk. He sits down so that he can talk with them eye-to-eye and quietly asks: “What happened?” He points to one of the boys. “You go first.” 

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Rape is not inevitable; 25 years of Prozac; how racism is bad for health

rapeThree posts caught my eye last night. The first was by Jessica Valenti, who writes about feminism, sexuality and social justice for the Nation. She looked at the vitriolic response to political commentator and writer Zerlina Maxwell’s appearance on Fox News’ Hannity. Maxwell made the point that having a gun doesn’t prevent rape. Valenti quoted her as saying: “I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there.”

A headline on TheBlaze.com, a right-wing site, shouted Democratic Strategist’s Shocking Claim: Women Don’t Need Guns for Self-Defense, Just Tell Men “Not to Rape Women” and called her approach “bizarre”. Online comments were, well, what you might expect. Valenti pointed out:

The truth is that focusing on ways women can prevent rape will always backfire. Not only because it’s ineffective—what a woman wears or

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Five numbers to remember about early childhood development

harvard Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child came up with this interactive infographic that provides a succinct, simple explanation about the importance of each of those five numbers. Altogether, according to the infographic, they add up to this:

Getting things right the first time is easier and more effective than trying to fix them later.
Early childhood matters because experiences early in life can have a lasting impact on later learning, behavior, and health.
Highly specialized interventions are needed as early as possible for children experiencing toxic stress.
Early life experiences actually get under the skin and into the body, with lifelong effects on adult physical and mental health.
All of society benefits from investments in early childhood programs.

Violence is men’s fault, says Dallas mayor: “We’ve created those traditions”

rawlingsDallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said something pretty interesting a couple of weeks ago. Violence is men’s fault, he declared. Men have to own up to it. Men have to change it.

According to this story by KERA reporter BJ Austin, this is exactly what Rawlings said:

“This violence is our fault. It’s not the women’s fault,” he said. “We have been the violent gender over the centuries, and we must own up to it. Tradition has enabled the action we see around us, and we’ve created those traditions. The culture of male violence has only been perpetuated by locker room talk, radio talk shows, video games, how fathers talk to sons, and our inability to deal with anger living deep inside.”

I fully recognize that women are capable of committing violence and do. And men are often victims of violence. However, there’s no denying that men carry out most of the gun violence, the rapes, and the assaults on women and children, who are usually members of their own family.  This post, however, isn’t about blame. It’s actually about moving on from blame.

What’s most significant about Rawlings’ statement is that — for a brief moment — someone swung the spotlight 180 degrees in talking about violence against women and children. Why is that a big deal?

Well, as we say in the South, let’s take a f’rinstance…..Let’s say that the media reported — and the community talked about — convenience store robberies and assaults the same way we talk about family violence. First, the local media wouldn’t report each robbery. We’d do a series every year during Convenience Store Robbery Awareness Month. The story package would focus only on the convenience store clerks: “Over the last year, 56 convenience store clerks were robbed and assaulted in OurFairCity. Half were beaten so badly that they were hospitalized. Because they could not return to work right after the robbery, they lost their jobs and could not pay the rent. There are not enough shelters in the city to house them and their children.”

In real life, convenience store robberies are reported more regularly than family violence, and the focus is on the perpetrator: “Joe Shmo was arrested last night. He is alleged to have robbed the Corner Convenience Store at the intersection of Main and Central. Convenience store clerk Randolph Bacon said Shmo held a gun to his head and knocked him unconscious after he opened the cash register. Off-duty policewoman Sue Smith happened to be in the store and arrested Shmo after he grabbed the cash.” Shmo’s arrest photo accompanies the story.

So, let’s swing that spotlight around in family violence, often referred to as the larger catch-all, IPV. Interpersonal violence refers to any violence between couples, married or not. The traditional report?

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