States moving ahead on Adverse Childhood Experiences surveys, meetings, practices

Dr. Robert Anda explaining life to “12-year-olds” at Iowa’s first ACEs Summit in Des Moines.

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Last week, nearly 800 adults — human services professionals, educators, judges, business leaders, philanthropists, and policy makers — sitting in a room in Des Moines, Iowa, imagined they were 12 years old. At the request of the speaker, half stood up. These kids are regular smokers, the speaker, Dr. Robert Anda, told the audience. All of those of you who are seated do not smoke, he explained. The half that are standing also have high ACE scores (ACE = adverse childhood experiences). That means that they have experienced or are living with four or more of the following:

  • sexual, physical or verbal abuse;
  • physical or emotional neglect;
  • a parent who is diagnosed mentally ill or who is addicted to alcohol or another drug;
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