LEARN, ACT AND PREVENT ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES
We all have a role to play in providing better futures for children and brighter prospects for our community. We recognize that many residents have experienced trauma which can have long-lasting effects. Our theory of change is that through a collective effort, we can disrupt this cycle, promote resiliency and prevent future trauma. By working together, we can create an environment where all members of our community can thrive.
First, we must understand more about what creates adversity and trauma. This allows us to build a common language around adversity and trauma-informed systems of care. Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood centered around neglect, abuse and household dysfunction. These can undermine a child’s sense of safety, stability, and bonding.
LEARN ABOUT ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES (ACEs)
ACEs are common. 3 in 5 adults in Georgia have experienced at least one ACE which mirrors national data.
Persistent exposure to one or more ACEs as a child or adolescent can cause prolonged activation of the body’s stress response, which triggers toxic stress. Toxic stress, when not properly addressed and reduced, can dramatically change how the brain develops and can lead to many learning and behavioral issues as a child, as well as many common life-threatening health conditions as an adult.
Those who have experienced ACEs are more likely to experience longer-term physical ailments such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, suicide and more.
We want to change the question from “What is wrong with you?” to “What has happened to you?”
ACT To Mitigate the Impact of Trauma and Promote Resiliency
We know that adverse experiences impact all areas of a child’s life and affect their future if not addressed early on.
- Attend a Trauma-Credentialed Training (check out the trainings we are offering below)
- Assess programs through trauma-informed lens
- Promote trauma-informed practices across systems and sectors
- Connect youth to caring adults and activities
- Recruit partners within your sector and cross-sector
Trauma-Credentialed Trainings Available:
Child Welfare Training Collaborative
Community Resilience Model
Mental Health First Aid - Youth
Conscious Discipline: Trauma-Informed
PREVENT FUTURE ACEs AND BUILD RESILIENCY
When we work together, we can begin reducing childhood adversity by promoting resiliency and healing.
Keep in mind, if these adversity does occur, the negative impacts are not irreversible. The brain has the potential to change and adapt throughout childhood and adulthood, so the areas that may have been affected by certain events can be strengthened over time
Researchers continue to refine their understanding of the components and processes involved in resilience. However, there is agreement about a variety of important conditions that support resilience.
- Close relationships with competent caregivers or other caring adults
- Parental resilience
- Caregiver knowledge and the use of positive parenting skills
- Having a sense of purpose (through faith, culture, identity, etc.)
- Individual competencies (problem solving skills, self–regulation, autonomy, etc.)
- Opportunities to connect socially
- Practical and available support services for parents and families
- Communities that value people and support health and personal growth
Protective factors help a child feel safe more quickly after experiencing the toxic stress of ACEs. Protective factors can neutralize the physiological changes that naturally occur during and after trauma. This protects the developing brain, the immune system, and the body as a whole from negative effects.
If the child’s protective factors are firmly in place, development can be sound, even in the face of severe adversity.
If these protective factors are inadequate, either before or after the traumatic experience, then the risk for developmental problems is much greater. This is especially true if the environmental hazards are intense and prolonged.
There are also policy and system changes that can help build resiliency and prevent future ACEs:
- Strengthening economic supports for families
- Promoting social norms that protect against violence and adversity
- Teaching skills to help parents and youth handle stress, manage emotions, and tackle everyday challenges
- Intervening to lessen immediate and long-term harms