Family Centre Raises Awareness Of ‘ACEs’

November 19, 2020 | 1 Comment

In celebration of UNICEF’s World Children’s Day tomorrow [Nov 20], Family Centre is raising awareness of “adverse childhood experiences [ACEs]“.

A spokesperson said, “World Children’s Day is celebrated annually on November 20th. This was the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

“On the same day in 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The intention of this important day is to highlight the need to improve the welfare of children around the world and to promote the rights of children.

“World Children’s Day is broad in scope and targets the needs of many countries and nations in which children remain impoverished.

“However, it is important that Bermudian social service, medical and mental health professionals, parents, educators, government leaders, community advocates, and young people all play an active role in ensuring that World Children’s Day is regarded as relevant in the Bermuda community.

“Many of us do not talk about the Pandora’s Box of our childhood. We try to put the past behind us and downplay the unpleasant memories from our past and/or family drama as just old baggage that we laugh about and then attempt to ignore.

“However, over two decades of scientific research has shown us that adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, change people in profound ways that can continue well into adulthood. Although we might laugh and ignore, ACEs and their lasting effects continue to impact our lives—often without our conscious awareness.

“Especially from the Bermuda perspective, it is crucial that we do all we can to raise awareness about the long-term dangers ACEs, recognizing children are our most valuable asset.

“The study and research of ACEs is an emerging field that focuses on children who have faced or endured traumatic experiences and toxic stress in the form of abuse, neglect, violence, divorce and other family dysfunctions, death of a family member, bullying, racial trauma, and other external or even environmental factors that affected their lives.

“Medical and social science research now shows that these types of childhood misfortunes can literally alter the development of a child’s brain, negatively impact a child’s developmental progress, and, ultimately, affect a child’s entire life both physically and mentally.

“Family Centre [as represented by Dr. Stephanie Guthman], in partnership with the Bermuda Health Council and Ms. Tara Hines, completed its first ACEs study in 2020. This study mirrors an earlier international study that included ten categories of ACEs, but with an additional three ACEs that are unique to Bermuda.

“The biggest takeaway from the Bermuda based study is that mental health is a foundational part of not only our personal health, but also the health of the community. We are beginning to better understand that our mental health needs to be continuously addressed, just as we do for our physical health.

“This pandemic has shown a spotlight on the need to have regular mental-health checks and care, as well as the need to maintain our personal health and safety.

“While children in our community and around the world may not be the face of the coronavirus, they are at increased risk of becoming its hidden victims. The global increase in violence is a disturbing indicator that many young people aged 18 and under have experienced some form of early life trauma in any of the many forms of violence during the continuing pandemic.

“We need to ensure that World Children’s Day serves as a reminder of our common responsibility to protect the rights and well-being of all children, especially the children in our own communities.

“The Family Centre team is family-focused and dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children and families who have been impacted by trauma, by ACEs, through continued counselling and community outreach programmes tailored to their needs.

“In addition, through Family Centre’s parenting groups and advocacy efforts, they continue to bring attention to and awareness of ACEs, as well as provide supportive strategies to counter the destructive effects of ACEs, despite the limitations brought on by COVID-19.

“We are grateful and proud to have been a small part of helping to improve life for our children in the Bermuda community and look forward to our continued engagement, together. Happy World Children’s Day!

“Family Centre has plans to share the ACEs study with the Bermuda community during the up-coming months. For more information, please check www.tfc.bm to learn more about Adverse Childhood Experiences or call 232-1116.“

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  1. Steve says:

    This post was truly worthwhile to read. I wanted to say thank you for the key points you have pointed out as they are enlightening.
    Traumatic events take place involving children. It can be something as seemingly mild as a simple divorce, being picked on or belittled by friends or family members, or dysfunctional relationship to something severe as in physical/sexual abuse or witnessing a crime or murder.

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