By: Scott Johnson
Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence, victimization, lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Published in 1998, a Kaiser Permanente study of 17,000 people showed a link between the stressful experiences a person has before the age of 18 and a person’s physical, emotional and social health.
The study identified ten adverse childhood experiences:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Physical neglect
- Emotional neglect
- Mother treated violently
- Household substance abuse
- Household mental illness
- Parental separation or divorce
- Incarcerated household member
Recent studies of adult Vermonters revealed that 57% have one or more ACEs and 22% have 3 or more ACEs. ACEs have been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, and early death. As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes.
What can be done about preventing ACEs?
The wide‐ranging health and social consequences underscore the importance of preventing ACEs before they happen. Safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments can have a positive impact on a broad range of health problems and on the development of skills that will help children reach their full potential and be resilient.
The Lamoille Family Center is one of fifteen Parent Child Centers (PCCs) in Vermont that use the Strengthening Families Framework and have a two‐generation approach to both mitigate and help prevent ACEs. The Centers for Disease Control recommends strategies for preventing ACEs, which resonate with the 8 core services that PCCs offer or that we refer to for support, including:
- home visiting to pregnant women and newborns
- parent training programs
- social supports for parents
- parent support programs for teens and teen pregnancy prevention programs
- high quality child care
- income support for lower income families
- intimate partner violence prevention
- mental health and substance abuse treatment.
It takes all of us to build flourishing communities that support the healthy and resilient development of our children. Join us in the next few weeks at one of the following showings of the James Redford film Resilience, a one hour documentary that delves into the science of ACEs.
Choose from any of these three dates/locations. Reserve your free ticket today!
- March 21st Hazen Showing: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resilience-film-screening-and-panel-discussion-hazen-tickets-31351447022
- March 29th Johnson State Showing: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resilience-film-screening-and-panel-discussion-at-johnson-state-tickets-31351711814
- April 3rd GMTCC Showing: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resilience-film-screening-and-panel-discussion-at-green-mountain-tech-and-career-center-tickets-31351777009
Scott Johnson is Executive Director of the Lamoille Family Center and has worked in Lamoille Valley in human services and education for nearly his entire career. The Family Center has served our community by encouraging, educating and celebrating children, youth and families for forty years.
Scott writes about early care and education, adolescent development and strengthening families that improve conditions of well-being.