Preventing ACEs Makes Sense: Common and Financial

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has issued a report outlining what we at the Center for Child Counseling have long advocated:

1) ACEs are a social scourge that negatively impact communities, societally and financially;
2) Preventing ACEs requires a public health approach and needs to be funded; and
3) Early intervention is the key to long-term success.

The CDC were part of the first large-scale survey into ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). That first study identified ten childhood experiences that could be linked to poor mental and physical health outcomes later in life. These experiences fell into the broad categories of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction.

60% of Americans have at least one ACE but many people have plenty more, with one in six people reporting four or more ACEs. The effects of these cumulative experiences add up. “The more types of ACEs a person has, the higher their risk for negative outcomes, which will limit their opportunities their whole life,” said CDC’s principal deputy director, Dr. Anne Schuchat.

One focus of the CDC’s research involves the physical health outcomes experienced by people reporting high ACE scores. A score above four puts a person at dramatically increased risk of dying from five of the ten leading causes of death in the United States, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and suicide.

But these health outcomes are preventable, if we can focus on intervening in young children and provide positive buffers that can help mitigate the effects of ACEs. Preventing childhood trauma could potentially prevent 1.9 million cases of coronary heart disease, the leading killer in this country. Similarly, it could prevent 2.5 million cases of obesity and 21 million cases of depression. The financial savings for society in general are astronomical.

The CDC has identified key ways where we can use prevention tactics and a public health approach to improve not on the experiences of young children but the environments and communities in which they live.

These suggestions include:

  • Strengthening economic supports for families
  • Promoting social norms that protect against violence and adversity
  • Ensuring a strong start for children
  • Teaching skills including resiliency
  • Connecting youth people to caring adults and activities
  • Intervening when necessary to lessen immediate and long-term harms

We’ve discussed many of these solutions as part of our blog series on ACEs. You can read the blogs here.

Center for Child counseling has always promoted a prevention and early intervention approach when it comes to very young children. As the preeminent Palm Beach County-based childhood mental health agency, we believe the earlier we intercede on behalf of a child’s best interests, the better. We specialize in working with children aged birth to 12 (although we help families with teens as well). The CDC’s approach is one we’ve been advocating for years by providing children with coping skills, promoting stronger families and communities to support improved mental health, and by educating parents, teachers, and workers in other child-related sectors to be positive buffers in the lives of our children.

You can read the CDC’s full report, entitled “Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Leveraging the Best Available Evidence” here.

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