Childhood trauma is at the root of many challenges New Mexico faces: from the opioid crisis, to community violence to poor school achievement and unemployment.
This makes childhood trauma an expensive problem, forcing state legislators, city mayors, council members, county commissioners and school board members to divert valuable tax dollars to deal with the impact.
But it doesn't have to be this way. We have identified the problem and we have the solution. In fact, the causes of childhood trauma are so well known that we have a term for them: Adverse Childhood Experiences – or ACEs
We define ACEs as: physical and emotional neglect; physical, emotional and sexual abuse; and living in households where adults misuse substances, have mental health challenges, are violent to partners, parents are separated, or a family member is incarcerated.
The more ACEs that children endure, the more likely they are to have significant emotional, educational and physical challenges. These challenges then lead directly to the costly problems that burden our state, county, city and local school budgets with high dropout rates, incarceration, child welfare service cases, unemployment, low worker productivity, shrinking tax bases, mental health challenges, increased DWIs, substance overdose, and increased violence.
We have a choice: Do we address the known causes of ACEs or do we continue to spend a large portion of our taxes to repeatedly deal with the tragic results?
For those states, cities and counties that wish to become places where children are safe, students are successful, and economies are thriving, we can choose wisely.
To support localities with cost-effective ACEs prevention, we propose establishing the Anna, Age Eight Institute guided by the book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment.
The Institute will focus on strengthening community systems and lifelong learning to create:
Join us in this groundbreaking work developing a first-of-its kind center devoted exclusively to family safety and success.
For questions or to help establish the Anna, Age Eight Institute, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Anna, Age Eight Institute is guided by the strategies presented in the book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment by Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD and Dominic Cappello. You can download the book free-of-charge here: www.AnnaAgeEight.org/anna.