ADVERSE EXPERIENCES in the first five years of a child's life can impact their social, emotional, and physical health throughout life.

Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. In this TEDx, Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect, and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. This is an impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to other traumatic stressors, called adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), are common. Almost two-thirds of participants in a 1995/1996 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente study reported at least one ACE, and more than one of five reported three or more ACEs. The short- and long-term outcomes of these childhood exposures include an increased risk for a multitude of health and social problems.

Adversity Is Not Destiny!

However, even if a person faced a great deal of adversity as a child, that adversity alone doesn’t shape that person’s destiny – after all, humans are adaptable and resilient. The single most important factor in a child building resilience in the face of adversity is a strong, consistent, nurturing, loving adult present in her/his life. Many people who have led challenging lives also have impressive resilience in the face of great challenges.

Learn more and get involved.

If you want to learn more about ACEs, you can request a presentation from ChildWise Institute. You also can read about the ACE Study and get involved locally through Elevate Montana, a movement dedicated to elevating the well-being and futures of all Montana’s children. You also can practice building community resilience with Tipping the Scales: The Resilience Game from Harvard University.

Adverse Childhood Experiences