The results of the 1998 ACE Study clearly show that ACEs are traumas. These interchangeable terms both describe how early abuse, abandonment and neglect impact children’s short- and long-term physical and mental health.
Childhood maltreatment has now become a public health issue. High levels of childhood trauma increases the risk of many mental health issues, including child and teen suicide by 51x! This statistic is not only scary but tragic!
This chart shows how childhood trauma and other kinds of adverse childhood experiences affect our lives and society, increasing the likelihood of health issues in adults.
This information is impacting the way that social, medical and mental health agencies and organizations provide services for young children and their families. Trauma-informed care is now becoming a standard practice in these places.
Trauma-informed care (TIC) is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding recognizing and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. People who have been traumatized by adverse childhood experiences need support and understanding from those around them. In a TIC environment, the question shifts from “what’s wrong with you” (a judgement that retraumatizes) to “what happened to you?” (a compassionate and supportive question).
Trauma is typically a shameful experience that people want to hide and ignore. Children internalize traumas, believing that they somehow caused them. So adverse childhood experiences affect their beliefs about themselves, causing feelings of guilt that reduce their self-esteem. Trauma leaves an imprint of stigma that often becomes part of a child’s self-image. Ultimately, it impacts every area of their functioning–physical, mental, behavioral, social and spiritual.
Watch these child trauma experts talk about how they use the principles of trauma-informed care in helping children heal from adverse childhood experiences.