ACEs The Rest Of The Story with Elisabeth Jones

Posted by Kate Spears on

This week on WCTE’s Get Ready To Learn radio show, join Cindy Putman and Elisabeth Jones as they continue their conversation about the impact that ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) have on students.

Jones is a educator in the Putnam County school system and is currently a teacher at White Plains Academy where she works with a wide range of students, many of whom have had some sort of traumatic episode in their lives. Because of her extensive work with students, she understands the impact that ACEs can have on a student's learning, emotional well-being, and ability to succeed in and outside the classroom.

Putman and Jones dig deep into ACEs research and share many of their findings from online ACEs resources.

The State of Tennessee:

Building Strong Brains: Tennessee ACEs Initiative is a major statewide effort to establish Tennessee as a national model for how a state can promote culture change in early childhood based on a philosophy that preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences, and their impact, is the most promising approach to helping Tennessee children lead productive, healthy lives and ensure the future prosperity of the state.

The Tennessee state initiative is born from research gathered in the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and their effects on life-long health and well-being. The study found that the greater the exposure to things such as domestic violence, addiction, depression in early childhood, the greater the risk for later-life problems such as higher risk for chronic illnesses, poverty, depression and addictive behaviors.

Tennessee is undertaking a comprehensive effort to use this powerful insight to improve the lives of the state’s children. Leaders from state government, the business world, advocates, insurers, academia and nonprofit foundations are organized as public and private sector steering groups to guide implementation and provide leadership at the state, regional and community levels. 

The Goals 

  1. Increase the potential that every child born in Tennessee has the opportunity to lead a healthy, productive life.
  2. Raise public knowledge about ACEs.
  3. Impact public policy in Tennessee to support prevention of ACEs and to reduce community conditions that contribute to them.
  4. Support innovative local and state projects that offer fresh thinking and precise measurement of impact in addressing ACEs and toxic stress in children.
  5. Seek sustainable funding to ensure the state maintains a long-term commitment to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences.
  6. Embrace open, responsive governance through statewide planning groups and the Three Branches Institute , comprised of leadership from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government, who were invited by the Governor to form a common agenda to advance child welfare and realign the juvenile justice system.​

Putman and Jones discuss how WCTE was able to partner with the State of TN and produce a six-part documentary series that is airing again on Sunday at 5:00 and 5:30 pm on WCTE. Jones who has been researching ACEs for several years shares the following information.

Kaiser Permanente, conducted a landmark ACE study from 1995 to 1997 with more than 17,000 participants. The study found:

  • ACEs are common. For example, 28% of study participants reported physical abuse and 21% reported sexual abuse. Many also reported experiencing a divorce or parental separation, or having a parent with a mental and/or substance use disorder.
  • ACEs cluster. Almost 40% of the Kaiser sample reported two or more ACEs and 12.5% experienced four or more. Because ACEs cluster, many subsequent studies now look at the cumulative effects of ACEs rather than the individual effects of each.
  • ACEs have a dose-response relationship with many health problems. As researchers followed participants over time, they discovered that a person’s cumulative ACEs score has a strong, graded relationship to numerous health, social, and behavioral problems throughout their lifespan, including substance use disorders. Furthermore, many problems related to ACEs tend to be comorbid or co-occurring.

ACEs and Substance Use

  • Early initiation of alcohol use. Efforts to prevent underage drinking may not be effective unless ACEs are addressed as a contributing factor. Underage drinking prevention programs may not work as intended unless they help youth recognize and cope with stressors of abuse, household dysfunction, and other adverse experiences. Learn more from a 2008 study on how ACEs can predict earlier age of drinking onset. (link is external)
  • Higher risk of mental and substance use disorders as an older adult (50+ years). ACEs such as childhood abuse (physical, sexual, psychological) and parental substance abuse are associated with a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder. Learn more from a 2017 study on adverse childhood experiences and mental and substance use disorders as an adult (link is external).
  • Continued tobacco use during adulthood. Prevalence ratios for current and ever smoking increased as ACEs scores increased, according to a 2011 study on ACEs and smoking status.
  • Prescription drug use. For every additional ACE score, the rate of number of prescription drugs used increased by 62%, according to a 2017 study of adverse childhood experiences and adolescent prescription drug use. (link is external)
  • Lifetime illicit drug use, drug dependency, and self-reported addiction. Each ACE increased the likelihood of early initiation into illicit drug use by 2- to 4-fold, according to a 2003 study on childhood abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction and the risk of illicit drug use.

ACEs and Behavioral Problems

  • Suicide attempts. ACEs in any category increased the risk of attempted suicide by 2- to 5-fold throughout a person’s lifespan, according to 2001 study. According to a recent 2017 article (link is external), individuals who reported 6 or more ACEs had 24.36 times increased odds of attempting suicide.
  • Lifetime depressive episodes. Exposure to ACEs may increase the risk of experiencing depressive disorders well into adulthood—sometimes decades after ACEs occur. Learn more from a 2015 study on ACEs and the risk of geriatric depressive disorders.
  • Sleep disturbances in adults. People with a history of ACEs have a higher likelihood of experiencing self-reported sleep disorders, according to a 2015 systematic review of research studies on ACEs and sleep disturbances in adults.

High-risk sexual behaviors. 

  • Women with ACEs have reported risky sexual behaviors, including early intercourse, having had 30 or more sexual partners, and perceiving themselves to be at risk for HIV/AIDS. Learn more from a 2001 study on ACEs and sexual risk behaviors in women. Sexual minorities who experience ACEs also demonstrate earlier sexual debut according to a 2015 study.
  • Fetal mortality. Fetal deaths attributed to adolescent pregnancy may result from underlying ACEs rather than adolescent pregnancy, according to a 2004 study of the association between ACEs and adolescent pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy outcomes. Each additional ACE a mother experienced during early childhood is associated with decreased birth weight and gestational age of her infant at birth, according to a 2016 study on the association between ACEs and pregnancy outcomes

These facts are not fate for someone who has a high ACEs score. The first step is to reach out for help that is available in our local community. Watch the ACEs Documentary that WCTE produced and gain knowledge and understanding about this topic. For additional information check out last week's blog. 

For additional information about topics discussed on WCTE’s Get Ready To Learn Radio Show contact Cindy Putman or Kristy Keeling at 931-528-2222 ext # 300


Tune in each Saturday morning at 9:30 for the WCTE Get Ready To Learn Radio Show, with host Cindy Putman on Zimmer Broadcasting's The HUB 107.7 FM and 1400 AM.

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Topics are listed below:

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