What are Adverse Childhood Experiences? ACEs are childhood traumas that occur between the ages of 0-17 years. Included among many traumas are financial stress, deep abiding poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, alcohol or substance abuse in the home, witnessing violence, or having a family member die from suicide. Adverse experiences for children put them at risk for lifelong health effects, according to a report from the CDC. Preventing ACEs can help children and adults thrive, and has the potential to substantially lower the risk for conditions like asthma, cancer, depression and diabetes.
Using data from a survey of more than 144,000 adults in 25 states, a study found that about 60% of adults experienced at least one adverse experience during childhood, and 15.6% experienced four or more different types. Women, Native Americans, and African Americans have the highest risk of four or more childhood traumas. The more ACEs people experience, the higher their risks throughout life for chronic disease and mental health problems, dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, and maintaining employment. The total economic and social cost to families, communities, and society is in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACTION
Your congregation can use its portion of the Pentecost Offering to support strategies that prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences. These strategies are explained fully in the CDC suite of technical packages on their website www.cdc.gov In addition, as you read through these strategies, individual Presbyterians may find ways to become involved. The prevention tools include:
- STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC SUPPORTS TO FAMILIES
- PROMOTE SOCIAL NORMS THAT PROTECT AGAINST VIOLENCE AND ADVERSITY
- ENSURE A STRONG START FOR CHILDREN
- TEACH SKILLS
- CONNECT YOUTH TO CARING ADULTS AND ACTIVITIES
- INTERVENE TO LESSEN IMMEDIATE AND LONG-TERM HARMS\
One agency that always is looking for volunteers (post-Covid19) and donations, is Child Crisis Arizona, a 501c(3) charity.