In its second survey of the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in the state, Tennessee Young Child Wellness Council and the state’s Department of Health found that 52% of its residents experienced at least one ACE, and 21% have experienced three or more, which can lead to adult onset of chronic disease, mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence.
The data is derived from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey ACEs module conducted in 2012. Previously, Tennessee was one of five states profiled in the CDC report “ACEs reported by Adults – Five States, 2009,” based on data collected in the first ACEs module included in the BRFSS.
“Adverse Childhood Experiences in Tennessee” was released May 26. It balances the prevalence of ACEs with a message of resiliency and hope. In bold type, it leads with “Facts NOT Fate,” stating, “Like a house’s foundation, brain architecture is built over time and from the bottom up. Positive experiences in infancy and early childhood can build a strong and solid foundation. Negative experience weaken the foundation which can lead to life-log problems.” (For more background about ACEs, go to ACEs 101.)
The report says that the state can do a number of things to prevent and reduce ACEs and build protective factors so that children can grow up to be healthy and happy. Several strategies are included in a section on the opportunities and resources to prevent and reduce ACEs:
- Increase awareness of ACEs and their impact
- Continue to collect and use Tennessee-specific ACE data
- Prevent and respond to ACEs in communities
Loraine Lucinski, administrator of Early Childhood Initiatives in the Tennessee Department of Health, provided specifics on some of these strategies. Many presentations are being made around the state to raise awareness of