Our Childhood Trauma Does Not End in Childhood Anna, Age Eight by Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD and Dominic Cappello explores the far-reaching consequences of trauma and offers a groundbreaking strategy for preventing it.
ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
Who was eight-year-old Anna?
The short life of eight-year-old Anna was the catalyst for Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD and Dominic Cappello writing the book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment. Anna is a fictional character based on very real children within the child welfare system. While working in New Mexico’s Child Protective Services Research Assessment and Data Bureau, Dr. Ortega Courtney and Cappello heard of a child that had been in and out of the system eight times, only to be returned to her deeply troubled mother who kicked her to death. There were expressions of moral outrage across the news media both locally and nationally, yet the reforms suggested and implemented would not be sufficient to address the systemic challenges within child welfare. The co-authors made a commitment to do whatever it took to keep a case like Anna’s from ever happening again.
The authors hoped that the book Anna, Age Eight, published in 2017, would catch the attention of local and state lawmakers to push data-driven reforms in the state capital, along with public engagement on the issue of preventing ACEs and trauma across the state. Over the course of a year, the state of New Mexico would fund the development and launch of Anna, Age Eight Institute for the data-driven prevention of childhood trauma to implement the book’s recommendations.
Why is Anna, Age Eight an urgent call to action?
If one in eight children suffered from an unknown but debilitating virus, outrage would boil, editorials would harangue public officials and agencies would mobilize to counter the threat. The CDC would scramble resources to develop and share effective preventive measures while searching for a safe, effective vaccine. We would fight the scourge as we would a war of national survival, reclaiming our children from the grip of this terrible, devastating disease.
We should all be asking, “Where is the public outcry and cure?”
With research showing child maltreatment is substantiated for one in eight children in the US, it is then clear that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), a broader category of experiences than just maltreatment, are at an epidemic scale in our society. Why are we allowing the adversity and abuse that lead to emotional trauma to harm our families, schools and workforces without any public outcry? Anna’s story has been a catalyst for statewide action that’s leading to systems change and the way local government sees its role in ensuring safe childhoods and supported families.
What are the costs of the status quo?
There are costly consequences for all of us in ignoring this epidemic. Directly or indirectly, ACEs, trauma and social adversity impact all of us. While some may score a zero on the ACEs survey, we all navigate a world of relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers who may have scored much, much higher.
Anna, Age Eight describes how slowly and silently, these emotional and physical adverse childhood experiences can have long-term and life-long consequences depending on the survivor’s and family’s access to treatment and resources.
Most forms of ACEs are hidden across all socio-economic groups and fly under the radar of schools and child protective services, yet the consequences of untreated childhood trauma can destroy essential relationships, fill our jails, diminish our workforce, inhibit learning in our schools, overtax our emergency rooms and encourage the sort of hopelessness that drives people to drugs and other self-destructive behaviors. Everyone is harmed as the trauma is passed from generation to generation.
Despite decades of denial and finger-pointing, our nation continues to be in the midst of an epidemic of childhood trauma. That must stop now. This work has been initiated by champions who read Anna’s story and felt compelled to act, empowered with a framework for preventing trauma before it starts.
Why has Anna, Age Eight been called “groundbreaking”?
Amid 1000+ books on trauma gracing Amazon, Anna, Age Eight may be the first and only one to offer a data-driven strategy that takes a systems approach to preventing trauma, rather than focusing only on the individual. An epidemic of trauma, impacting families, schools, workplaces and local economies requires collective collaboration on a scale as yet unseen. Until now.
Anna, Age Eight was written to serve as the catalyst for confronting the epidemic of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). It is the nation’s blueprint for creating safe childhoods in all our communities, promoting public and private sector collaboration between city councils, school boards, universities, state legislators, business leaders and a solution-seeking public.
Reading Anna, Age Eight, you’ll discover how your city can harness the power of data and technology to end an epidemic of childhood and family trauma that leads to substance misuse and untreated mental health challenges.
What makes Anna, Age Eight groundbreaking is that it provides to all city and county leadership a systems approach to prevention. This requires building the ten vital services that can ensure safe childhoods and resilient families — what we refer to as the 100% Community where every child’s health, safety and education is a priority.
Childhood trauma, along with child maltreatment that pushes families into the child welfare system are both predictable and preventable. Anna, Age Eight suggests a series of shockingly modest yet strategic reforms, changes that can ensure that the future systems of protection in every community are better at identifying their own shortcomings and fixing them. The book offers a way to address the root causes of childhood trauma that impact student achievement, family safety, employment and economic development.
The authors’ main thesis, quite simply, is that protecting all our children is entirely possible, but only when we know the scope of the challenges faced by families of all socio-economic levels in each unique community. The book provides a detailed, data-driven analysis of the scope of the problem and how to strengthen key systems, called “survival services” and “thriving services,” designed to protect 100% of our children and strengthen families and communities. The proven strategies proposed, guided by decades of research focused on the social determinants of health, have the power to heal families, illustrating how we can all take courageous and compassionate steps toward designing family-focused and child-centered communities. Anna, Age Eight is serving as the guide for data-driven ACEs prevention programs as well as guiding the Anna, Age Eight Institute for the data-driven prevention of childhood trauma in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
How does Anna, Age Eight ignite community dialogue?
Anna, Age Eight has made trauma part of our public discourse, informing how congresspeople, state senators and representatives, mayors, city council members, county commissioners, school boards, university leadership, child welfare directors, and advocates for families and children can implement the data-driven prevention of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and family trauma. There have been many forums, convenings and book clubs, all organized around the story of Anna, leading to much-needed debate, discussion and a rethinking of community priorities.
Anna’s story of a very troubled family that fell through the cracks with tragic results is serving as a call to action for state, county and city leaders seeking to end the costly epidemic of child abuse and neglect.
Who are the authors?
What do readers say about Anna, Age Eight?
“Congratulations to Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney and Dominic Cappello on the publication of their powerful and important book.”
—Alan Webber, Mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and co-founder of Fast Company magazine
“The authors offer common sense solutions including systemic change and a plea for attention on the part of citizens and lawmakers to ‘give a damn’.”
—Pamela Etre-Perez, PhD, Former Director of Adult Education, State of New Mexico; Former Dean of the School of Adult Education, Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque
“ The book asks that we educate ourselves about this hidden epidemic of trauma and mobilize our cities and towns around evidence-based solutions. The book is a blueprint for creating family-friendly and trauma-free communities across the nation.”
—Pepper Schwartz, PhD, Author and Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington
“Quite simply, everyone who has a child or works with children in any capacity should read this book. All of us—parents, educators, physicians, those in all walks of social work and law enforcement.”
—Heather Race, former educator
“This book brought data to a place of relevancy for social change. It was written in an easy to follow, plain-speak format which made the read not only informative, but very enjoyable and motivating.”
—Dr. Melissa Hardin, Program of Social Work, Eastern New Mexico University
“I love this book because it’s recommendations are actionable, at what ever level of public engagement you begin from.”
—Robin Swift, New Mexico Public Health expert
“As the former Deputy Cabinet Secretary of New Mexico’s child welfare department, I know first hand the challenges faced by staff and policy makers on every level, as well as by our children and families. Anna, Age Eight is a book that must be read by all those who care about families and those that would like to see a more efficient and effective use of public dollars.”
—Marisol Atkins, Former Deputy Cabinet Secretary, New Mexico Child, Youth and Families Department
“I appreciate the genuine and authentic approach to creating a narrative for a very emotionally charged social and public health issues.”
—Xenia G Becher, MSW, Syracuse University
“Anna, Age Eight should be required reading for every teacher, every parent, and every public leader from health official to mayor—because this epidemic of trauma is real and must be taken seriously.”
—Yarrott Benz, teacher and author of The Bone Bridge: A Brother’s Story, IPPY gold medal winner
When can I start reading Anna, Age Eight?
You and your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and community’s high school and college students can start reading now. New Mexicans residents may download free-of-charge the book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment. Please see the download form below.
- The good news is that ACEs, trauma and social adversity are predictable and preventable. Visit SOLUTION to learn about our groundbreaking strategy.
- We provide all the tools you need for the 100% Community initiative. The process detailed above can be customized to meet the unique needs and capacity of county residents. To see our progress in New Mexico and learn how one champion can start a local initiative, visit COUNTIES.
- For more information on the ACEs survey, research, prevention strategies, and school, campus and workplace policies on ACEs, please visit CONTACT.
New Mexico Residents
New Mexico residents can download a digital copy of Anna, Age Eight for free.
After completing the form below, we will immediately provide you with a personal download link. If you have problems please contact us for assistance.