Adverse Childhood Experiences Resolution Passes in California

Rob Wipond
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The California Senate unanimously approved a resolution to encourage statewide policies aimed at recognizing and responding to children’s exposure to adverse childhood experiences, reports ACES Too High News and SF Gate. According to ACES Too High, the resolution says the state’s policies should “consider the principles of brain development, the intimate connection between mental and physical health, the concepts of toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences, buffering relationships, and the roles of early intervention and investment in children…”

“New programs or mandates are not included in the resolutions,” states ACES Too High, “but both provide an important framework for state level decision-making that is informed by the findings of the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.”

ACES Too High is a website that specifically reports on developments related to adverse childhood experiences. The article includes links to Senator Holly Mitchell speaking in support of the measure, and urging the Governor “to reduce children’s exposure to adverse childhood experiences, address the impacts of those experiences, and invest in preventive health care and mental health and wellness interventions.”

CA Senate unanimously approves ACEs reduction resolution (ACES Too High News, August 21, 2014)

State lawmakers unanimous in support of child trauma services (SF Gate, August 19, 2014)

21 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a very large and complex topic. It could be exploited in any number of ways, but I would be wary of adults telling children who are upset that they’re traumatized. Children can be capable of seeing hurt in a larger context and not letting it define them.

  2. Obviously, whether this is good or bad depends on what the interventions may be. But at least there is a recognition that bad experiences can cause emotional distress. This sounds so simple-minded, I know, but as readers of MIA are all too aware, psychiatry in general blames all mental problems on genes and serotonin and anything but life. So by itself it is a small step forward…I hope.

    • Yeah, I’m a bit afraid “early interventions” mean – screen them, find them and drug them, social and personal context out of the window. Psychiatry sometimes pays lips service to environmental causes and then swiftly returns to business as usual.

    • It occurs to me that it may be interesting and useful for someone with the proper credentials to compare the predictive value of genetics to the predictive value of the ACEs when it comes to “mental health problems.” The best they’ve come up with so far is that a collection of 20 or 30 or so genes occurring together create a tiny increase in the chance of developing any of a range of “mental health diagnoses.” Whereas ACEs predict drinking, drug use, depression, anxiety, probably psychosis, cancer, diabetes, and early death. It would be lovely to see a side-by-side comparison.

      —- Steve

      • Hi Steve
        I think it makes sense that Adverse Childhood Events can have long term effects. But it might be difficult to say otherwise.

        Some people are good at maintaining ‘appearances’ while suffering terribly inside, and if they don’t complain they are not heard about. But ‘psychosis’ is more a type of externally expressed distress.

        I think the ‘genetic connection’ is mostly non applicable, as everyone is equipped to experience the effects of mental distress.

      • Good idea about comparing predictive values of nature vs. nurture (but that makes way too much sense) Research by Shevlin reports that a child who has experienced
        3 ACES is 18 times more likely to develop psychotic like symptoms; 5 ACES? = 193 times more likely for psychosis.

      • I’ve seen studies comparing genetics and chronic stress/trauma as contributors to mental illness (presented during a FENS conference this year) and the contribution of genetics was statistically insignificant over the whole population while the most predictive factors were socioeconomical. I’m pretty sure it’d be same for ACE. The data is there but it’d being ignored by people who profit of genetically determined mental illness model.

        • I am sure this is true. I have read some recent stuff demonstrating that socioeconomic factors are more important for physical health than genetics, too. I think we all know the conclusion – we just need some highly credible person to pull the findings together and do some good PR to make sure the press gets the issue in the front pages of our not-so-trusty news media.

          —- Steve

    • Well, I have some major problems with checklists like that. They of course will catch the most “typical” cases of abuse and maybe some neglect but they will miss a lot of subtle stuff. Plus it’s not really a way to go – why don’t you just ask the person and let them tell you what’s wrong instead of doing the whole background check? And why is it assumed that this has to happen from the parents? Can’t teachers, religious figures, doctors and other people abuse a child? I hate this crap of measuring personal distress and trauma by checklists and tests. Use some human judgement for f*** sake.

      • I totally agree about the checklists, and about others besides family being the potential cause of trauma. Personally, elementary school was by far the most traumatic experience I ever had. Especially second grade – Ms. Vaughn was SCARY AS CRAP!!! Threw a book across the room in a rage, destroyed my friend’s art project, then whacked me on the back of the head and threw both me and him (for crying, apparently) out in the hallway when I tried to object to her behavior. Being in her class should have given me at least 3 ACE points on any checklist!

        Still, it is the CONCEPT that being mistreated is a much more important factor than genetics which we have to get out there to the public, and crude as these measures are, it does communicate that very clearly. My biggest beef with psychiatry isn’t the drugs – it’s the marketing of the concept that there are “mental diseases” that they can identify from someone’s behavior alone, and that these diseases are completely centered in the person and have no relationship whatsoever to their environment or experience. There has never been a more vile “snake oil” sold more disingenuously to the public in the history of medical fraud! And the evidence to the contrary is right there, in plain sight, all the time. It speaks to our mesmerization and deification of doctors that this chicanery has been sustained for so many years! So I’m glad we are finally talking about it, and I’d rather deal with the unscientific nature of the ACE checklist than the unscientific nature of the “ADHD” checklist any day!

        Always appreciate your comments, B!

        —- Steve

        • Thank you :).
          “it’s the marketing of the concept that there are “mental diseases” that they can identify from someone’s behavior alone, and that these diseases are completely centered in the person and have no relationship whatsoever to their environment or experience”
          That plus the power to force people to have their bodily integrity and freedom violated.

      • Have I told this story here, before? In the eighties I read and article about a little boy in Italy whose mother was diagnosed as manic-depressive. During her manic phases, she would get a little abusive. Neighbors would hear her yelling at the boy, and call the authorities. The authorities would take the boy away, boy every time they did, he managed to escape and find his way back home. Eventually they more concerned about what was wrong with the boy because he kept backing and because he didn’t have any identifiable symptoms— there had to be something wrong with the boy, right?

        So eventually they set him up with a high-ranking child psychology specialists who talked to the boy, and by doing so found out that most of the time he and his mother got along famously, she provided, and her occasional bouts involved nothing more serious than swatting the boy on the butt with a brush, which he could deftly avoid. He knew and understood that his mother was sick sometimes and he loved her and knew that she loved him and the bout would soon pass. So, the psychologist told them not to try to place him in other homes or institutions.

        A lot of people, even people who professionally deal with children, simply do not know how to have a productive conversation with a child. And that squeaky little Glenda voice that so many social workers learn needs to go. It’s o.k. to talk slowly and softly to very young children who are just learning language, but the ones who are learning to read and write are ready for a normal tone. Hearing that saccharine, condescending voice from a social worker, as an adult was truly maddening. It’s bad enough they use it on kids who can dress themselves.