“Adverse Childhood Experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today,” Dr. Robert Block, the former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is quoted as saying.
This means that the largest unaddressed epidemic facing our nation is toxic stress.
This isn’t the stress we feel when we’re studying for a final or trying to finish a project before a deadline. This is the kind of stress that occurs when a person is facing a real-life fight-or-flight situation every day.
ACEs stands for Adverse Childhood Experience Study, and it is a way of measuring and describing the types of trauma that will have lasting impacts on a child’s ability to have healthy relationships, get a good education and even live a healthy life.
The research behind ACEs is nothing new. In fact, it is the basis behind trauma-informed care — which has become a new buzzword in the education and mental-health fields. Developed in 1995, the inventory that a person fills out to determine their ACEs score has been in use on both coasts for more than a decade. Like many trends, however, it has taken a while for this to make its way to the Midwest.
There are a ton of negative impacts that a high ACEs score can have. I’m not going to list them all here, except to say that the toxic stress that many of our children in this community deal with on a daily basis is truly a health — not just a mental health — crisis.
But there is good news. No matter how high a person’s ACEs score is, there is ONE factor that can keep all of the negative effects from taking hold: a stable, caring adult. One adult willing to have a relationship with these children can — no, will — make all the difference.
Please join us at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at the Fort Scott High School commons area as we discuss how we can come together as a community to address this problem. We will have dinner, discussions, family activities, a guest speaker and free childcare. If we can get schools, churches, civic organizations, mental-health organizations, healthcare providers, etc. all on the same page, we can change the world for our kids.
Pass this along to any families or people who work with families!
Let me know if you have any questions!
Eugene Ware Elementary
Licensed School Counselor