Understanding Trauma

Traumatic experiences in our childhood don’t just go away. In fact, emerging research is proving that the stress caused from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs for short), like abuse, neglect or living with someone struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues have tangible and lasting impacts on our physical health and brain development. To learn more about the brain science behind childhood trauma and its lasting effects, watch this Ted Talk from pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris as she makes an impassioned plea for her colleagues to confront and prevent childhood trauma head-on.

This is treatable. This is beatable. The single most important thing that we need today is the courage to look this problem in the face and say, ‘this is real, and this is all of us.”

Nadine Burke Harris, founder and CEO of Center for Youth Wellness

Many of us experienced trauma in our formative years and may even be still dealing with the lasting effects from those events. To survey the impact of your own childhood, take the ACE quiz and then take some time to think about what your score means in the bigger context. ACEs are just an indicator of your future health, they do not predetermine it. For example, the ACE quiz does not take into account the positive experiences many of us had to offset hard times. A caring teacher or a trusted family friend can change the course of your health outcomes with adequate support.

Unfortunately, many young people don’t have enough positive influences to outweigh the negative experiences in their lives, putting their future health and stability at risk. The good news is, there are things that we as a community can do to make a positive impact in the lives of young people. Learn what you can do to prevent ACES and be a positive influence in your community.

Amanda Horner
Amanda Horner
Senior Communications Manager at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

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