Conference On Adverse Childhood Experiences

September 12, 2018

In collaboration with the Health Council and in partnership with the Inter Agency Committee for Children and Families, Family Centre is inviting members of the public to attend a very important conference, to be held on October 11th and 12th at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, entitled: “Adverse Childhood Experiences, Awareness and A Call To Action”.

Dr. Stephanie Guthman, lead staff person at Family Centre for the conference, comments: “The aim of the conference is to raise awareness and to educate the public on adverse childhood experiences [ACEs] and the resulting negative effect on adulthood.

“We have worked very hard to bring together local and international experts from multiple disciplines such as education, early childhood, health, and mental health to share their research and practices that is intended to benefit the whole child, and to challenge adults to design needed solutions in Bermuda.

“No fewer than eight speakers from abroad, along with several local presenters will take part in this 2-day conference to give us cutting edge information on the known effects of ACE’s. Our goal is to jointly explore ways to reduce the impact of trauma on the health of children. The survey information will ultimately provide local data which allow programs and policy decisions affecting Bermuda’s children to be tailor made.

“As have been revealed in recent data surfacing in Bermuda regarding unaddressed trauma, we believe that Bermuda is struggling significantly from untreated trauma and its subsequent effects.”

She continues, “What is known in the US is that ACEs are the biggest single issue facing children in the USA. What we want to know here in Bermuda is, ‘Is this also true for Bermuda?’ Published in 1998, the original ACEs’ study was one of the first studies to look at the relationship between chronic stress in childhood and adult health outcomes.

“Data was collected during 1995-1997 from 17,000 Kaiser Permanente members who completed surveys on their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors. Many states are now collecting state-specific ACE data through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System [BRFSS], an annual phone survey established by the CDC that collects data on health-related risk factors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services by U.S. adults. Family Centre in partnership with the Health Council is conducting a similar ACEs research study and we will share preliminary results at the ACEs conference in October.”

She ended with the statement: “Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on the likelihood of the perpetuation of the same negative behaviors, future violence victimization, loss of opportunities for personal success, and lifelong health issues. Thus, early childhood experiences are an important public health issue. More information, or registration tickets can be obtained by calling 232-1116. The cost for the 2-day conference is $300, one day, only, $200. Early registration ends on September 30.”

Executive Director, Martha Dismont, commented: “Family Centre is pleased to have the partnerships of the Health Council and the Inter Agency Committee for Children and Families in presenting the collection of survey data on ACEs in Bermuda, and in delving deeply into this very challenging topic. We have invited a broad section of the community to join us in the dialogue and exploration of solutions to ACEs.

“This includes government, who has been very supportive [in particular, the Ministry of Health]. The concept of ‘unresolved trauma’ and its negative consequences continues to present multi-faceted challenges in our community, particularly for highly vulnerable families. It is imperative that we continue the momentum that has begun to tackle this highly difficult barrier to success for children, youth, and adults.”

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