21 Day Equity Challenge

Day 15: Adverse Childhood Experiences

In order for children to meet developmental milestones, learn, grow, and lead productive lives, it is critical that they be healthy. Good social-emotional and mental health is a key component of children’s healthy development. Poverty, trauma, and inadequate treatment are three factors that have been shown to have a sustained, negative impact on children’s social, emotional and mental health. Unfortunately, racism is not recognized commonly as an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) - a toxic source of stress with the potential to disrupt a child’s ability to learn, relate, grow, play, communicate, and problem-solve. ACEs disproportionately impact children of color. This is a downstream impact of the toxic environments created by institutions and systems that shape our lived experience  (e.g. the justice, education, and healthcare systems).

Adverse Childhood Experiences show race / ethnicity disparity

Source: Missourian; Original Data from The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative

Healthy school, community, and home environments are critical to preventing children from experiencing ACEs and appropriately supporting students living with chronic stress, so that it does not get in the way of them achieving their aspirations.


Today’s Challenge:

OPTION 1: Read this article by Dr. Paul Lanier from the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC School of Social Work about how “Racism is an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE)”. 

OPTION 2:  Go deeper and assess your ACEs score to see how childhood trauma may be impacting your life. Then, explore resources on how to support yourself and others by building resilience.

Note: This information may bring up some intense feelings. Consider seeking support from a trusted confidant to process.

OPTION 3: View this infographic that explains how ACEs affect our lives and society and summarizes findings from a landmark Kaiser study that looks at the link between ACEs and long-term well-being.

OPTION 4: Learn about what Public Schools First NC identifies as the biggest issues facing a trauma-informed approach to NC education, and their recommendations for how to best support students with ACEs. As a starting point, here are a few simple Everyday Gestures to help a child heal.

OPTION 5: On the TED stage, Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect, and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.

21-Day Racial Equity Challenge - Navigation Menu