(Sacramento, CA – May 29, 2014) California legislators have introduced a resolution urging state officials to identify solutions that address the impact of adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress, and reduce children’s exposure to such trauma. Assembly Concurrent Resolution 155 is authored by Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (D-39) and co-authored by Assemblymembers Bonta, Bradford, Buchanan and Calderon. The resolution is co-sponsored by the Center for Youth Wellness, Children Now and Californians for Safety and Justice, and was announced today during a legislative hearing on trauma informed community health practices.
“Far too often, the impact of trauma in our children’s lives goes unnoticed and unaddressed,” said Asm. Bocanegra. “ACR 155 emphasizes our commitment to ensuring that all kids have a chance to thrive. It is more effective and less costly to positively influence the architecture of a child’s developing brain than to attempt to correct poor learning, health and behavior later on.”
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic experiences, such as abuse, neglect and household dysfunction, which can result in toxic stress and have a profound effect on a child’s developing brain and body. Research shows that exposure to childhood trauma is surprisingly common; a study of over 17,000 Californians found that two-thirds reported at least one adverse childhood experience, while 20 percent of participants reported three or more ACEs.
“Every parent, pediatrician and policymaker should be familiar with the words ‘toxic stress’ and ‘adverse childhood experiences,” said Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness. “The data around ACEs and their impact on children’s long-term health exposes the scope of the problem and the opportunity we have to heal. By identifying effective solutions and interventions to prevent ACEs and heal toxic stress, we can make kids healthier and build stronger families and communities.”
Exposure to adverse experiences is linked to increased risk for lifelong health and behavior problems. For example, research shows that an individual with four or more ACEs is more likely to have a stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer and diabetes. A person with four or more ACEs is also likely to experience depression, be more suicidal, or be an alcoholic.
“Trauma in its many forms can profoundly affect children’s healthy social, emotional and physical development, and their ability to learn and thrive,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now. “California must ensure that every child has access to evidence-based preventive and intervention programs to reduce the impacts of ACEs on individuals and inflated costs to our health care and public health systems.”
The resolution supports research-based solutions to reduce children’s exposure to adverse experiences, and calls for investments in preventive healthcare and mental health and wellness interventions to achieve a healthy and prosperous California.
“Addressing the impact of trauma on children is not just a response to violence but also a step toward preventing future trauma,” said Lenore Anderson, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. “The right interventions can help a vulnerable child avoid future exposures to violence that could otherwise have devastating effects on their ability to stay in school, stay healthy and stay out of trouble.”
To view Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 155, please visit:
About Californians for Safety and Justice
Californians for Safety and Justice, a project of the Tides Center, is a nonprofit bringing together crime survivors, business and community leaders, policymakers, law enforcement, health professionals, educators and crime-prevention experts to replace prison and justice system waste with common sense solutions that create safe neighborhoods and save public dollars. Through collaborations, policy research and analysis, toolkits and trainings, and community engagement, we are working to build a justice system that improves public safety and health without draining resources from our schools, hospitals and other community needs. www.SafeandJust.org
About Center for Youth Wellness
The Center for Youth Wellness believes that health begins with hope. We are a health organization imbedded within a primary care pediatric home serving children and families in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood in San Francisco. We heal children’s brains and bodies piloting the best treatments for toxic stress and sharing our findings nationally. We have the power to revolutionize pediatric medicine and transform the lives of countless kids – giving them a fair shot to grow up healthy and succeed in life. www.CenterforYouthWellness.org
About Children Now
Children Now is the leading, nonpartisan, umbrella research, policy development, and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health and education in California. The organization also leads The Children’s Movement of California. www.ChildrenNow.org