This contest is sponsored by CentraCare
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn -- Childhood experiences – both positive and negative – have a huge impact on our lives. A positive role model can inspire a child’s life while a negative experience can have lasting effects. Studies show that children who experience adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are more likely to have health problems later in life. Jodi Gertken, from CentraCare Health is here to discuss ACEs and what we can do as a community to address them.
Examples of ACEs include things like physical abuse, divorce, substance abuse by a member of the household, neglect or intergenerational or historic trauma.
Why is ACEs part of wellness?
At Feeling Good MN, our wellness efforts are focused on policies, systems and environments, because this is where we can really impact people. Addressing ACEs is important because if you don’t have personal safety, it’s hard to focus on things like healthy eating and exercise. For example if a child is being abused or neglected, or if a parent is an alcoholic, we know these experiences can lead to lifelong health problems for the child as they grown and develop.
What are those problems?
Children who experience adverse childhood experiences have higher rates of obesity, depression, substance abuse and even cancer. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and California-based Kaiser Permanente reported that people who experienced four or more ACEs had a seven-fold increase in alcoholism and a doubled risk of cancer.
What’s being done
In Central Minnesota, CentraCare Health approached Stearns County government in 2016 to discuss ways to address and reduce ACEs in the region. This led to the creation of the Child Advocacy Center in Sartell. Prior to the Child Advocacy Center, children who were victims of child abuse were shuffled from agency to agency to be interviewed about the abuse. This meant separate trips to meet with law enforcement, medical personnel, social services and legal counselors – sometimes it even required traveling to the Twin Cities. Today, all these services come to the Child Advocacy Center so children don’t have to experience additional trauma from explaining their abuse to several different people in different locations. This has helped drastically improve the experience for these children and we’re able to more effectively connect them with the services and care they need.
Central MN Child Advocacy Center: https://www.centracare.com/services/child-advocacy-center/
Finding a Child Advocacy Center near you: https://minnesotachildrensalliance.org/find-a-cac/
ACEs study overview: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/