Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky and the Nurturing Children Program of CHI Saint Joseph Health hosted an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) training program at the London-Laurel County Community Center last month. The event saw a turnout of 54, with counselors, doctors, legal professionals and parents in attendance.
"ACE refers to trauma that can start at youth. It can follow you into your adulthood," said Millie Harris, violence prevention coordinator with CHI Saint Joseph Health. "The study behind ACEs talks about how trauma can affect us both mentally and physically. You need to look at the whole picture of an individual and work towards improving both physical and mental health."
The training held a screening of the film "Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope," a documentary regarding ACEs. According to the film, studies have shown childhood trauma can lead to conditions such as heart disease, cancer, substance abuse and depression. These experiences can alter brain development and lead to lifelong health and behavioral effects.
ACEs can take the form of the loss of a parent through death, living with an alcoholic, divorce or incarceration and abuse -- both sexual and otherwise.
“This film provides a great glimpse of how stress and toxic stress affect everyone’s day to day lives," said Harris. "So many families are dealing with toxic stress, and as a professional attempting to address these needs, it’s important to link with and work with appropriate service providers to ensure the families are getting quality care that meets their needs."
Toxic stress is defined by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University as a response that occurs "when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity—such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support."
Harris said childhood trauma is an important topic, and that learning how to care for children suffering from these experiences can help them as they develop. For more information on "Resilience," visit the film's website at https://kpjrfilms.co/resilience/.