Martha Davis, executive director of the Institute for Safe for Safe Families, and Kristin Schubert, team director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, write about the history and prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Neuroscientists have found that traumatic childhood events like abuse and neglect can create dangerous levels of stress and derail healthy brain development, putting young brains in permanent "fight or flight" mode. What scientists often refer to as "toxic stress" has damaging long-term effects on learning, behavior, and health. Very young children are especially vulnerable.
Last year, the Institute for Safe Families, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others, formed the Philadelphia Adverse Childhood Experiences Task Force to help local doctors and nurses, mental health counselors, and advocates recognize the symptoms of toxic stress and develop ways to protect children from its damaging effects. As a first step, the Task Force conducted a citywide survey of more than 1,700 residents to understand the prevalence of the problem.
The results are tragic.
Learn about the findings and the applications for social workers, police departments, educators, doctors, and nurses in the full article, Early Trauma, Lasting Damage, on philly.com
Complete infographic, The Truth About ACEs, can be found at rwjf.org
Lori Howell regularly contributes articles about juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment to ReclaimingFutures.org. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in French from Seattle University and is earning her master's in strategic communications from the University of Oregon. Lori works as a senior account director at Prichard Communications.
Updated: June 20 2013