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.
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.
So Where is the Cure?
With research showing child maltreatment is substantiated for one in eight children in the US, it’s clear 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?
ACEs, Trauma and our Children
ACEs impact many of our children. Instead of growing up with joy they endure emotional trauma year after year. Most ACEs fly under the radar of child welfare and schools. Instead of learning and socializing at school, in some classrooms a third to three-quarters of students may have three or more ACEs. They may be marginalized at school, perceived by teachers as being disengaged or acting out. Students may worry more about what adversity awaits them at home instead of doing math homework. Click above to learn their stories.*
Costly Consequences for All of Us
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, directly or indirectly, as the trauma is passed from generation to generation.
Despite decades of denial and finger-pointing to absolve anyone of responsibility, our nation continues to be in the midst of an epidemic of childhood trauma. That stops now.
About the Groundbreaking Book
Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment was written by Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD and Dominic Cappello 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.
Read Anna, Age Eight and 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. Design a city system that ensures 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: 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.
Untreated Trauma on Campus
Students arrive to college or university with untreated trauma due to ACEs. Lack of academic achievement and low graduation rates can be the result of untreated trauma and the lack of accessible behavioral health care on campus. Click above to learn their stories.*
The Proven Strategies
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 in each unique community. The book provides a detailed, data-driven analysis of the scope of the problem and how to strengthen ten key systems, called “survival services” and “thriving services,” designed to protect 100% of our children and strengthen families and communities. The proven strategies proposed 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—from New Mexico to Arizona and Kentucky.
Untreated Trauma in the Workplace
Trauma, a result of ACEs, can impact an employee’s work performance and behaviors. Substance misuse and mental health challenges may result from untreated trauma and impact workforce productivity..*
Anna, Age Eight has made trauma part of our public discourse.
Anna, Age Eight is informing how congresspeople, state senators and representatives, mayors, city council members, county commissioners, school boards, university staff, child welfare directors and advocates for families and children can implement the data-driven prevention of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and family trauma. We are gratified to know that Anna, Age Eight is serving as a blueprint for cities seeking to end the costly epidemic of child abuse and neglect.
About the Authors
Leading a Movement to Ensure Safe Childhoods
Leaders in the data-driven prevention of childhood trauma, Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD and Dominic Cappello met while working on quality improvement within child welfare in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the wake of a high-profile child fatality in the state, they wrote Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment. The book led to a bi-partisan legislative campaign and the creation of the Anna, Age Eight Institute, which opened in July of 2019.
Dr. Ortega Courtney and Cappello wrote the follow-up book, 100% Community: Ensuring trauma-free and thriving children, students and families, to guide local leadership in every county in their work designing truly family-friendly cities and towns. The institute’s ground-breaking work is leading a national movement to ensure safe and successful childhoods.
To learn more about the Anna, Age Eight Institute inspired by the book, please watch our overview video on our 100% Community initiative.
New Mexico Residents
New Mexico residents can download a digital copy of Anna, Age Eight for free.
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