We encourage you to watch Oprah’s 60 Minutes segment about Adverse Childhood Experiences and use our materials to deepen your understanding of childhood and community trauma
Last night on 60 Minutes, Oprah Winfrey focused a national spotlight on the topic of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their link to poor health and mental health outcomes. She discussed the need to shift our approach to working with children who’ve been traumatized from asking, “what’s wrong with this child?” to asking “what happened to this child?” This issue is critical to understand if we are going to make families and individuals stronger, healthier, and more resilient, and help them thrive.
But there is also another dimension to consider: the community.
As Howard Pinderhughes, University of California, San Francisco professor and Prevention Institute board member, explains in this video, “Communities function as the fabric and foundation of resilience for families and for children and youth. We’ve really come to understand the scope of individual trauma, and it’s resulted in a sea change in terms of our approaches to addressing individual trauma through trauma informed-care [and] trauma informed pedagogy. But one of the things we haven’t been able to concentrate on as comprehensively, and we’re beginning to start to understand, is the issue of community trauma.” Looking at the community as a whole helps us understand the ways that individual and community trauma are deeply intertwined.
To address community trauma, the shift we need is from asking, “what’s wrong with this community?” to “what happened to this community?” From there, we can start to identify which policies and practices have exacerbated community trauma and which solutions are needed to build community resilience.
Prevention Institute has numerous resources to help you understand why addressing community trauma is important in reducing the exposure to and long-term impact of adverse childhood experiences. Several of our recent reports delve into how community trauma increases risk factors that make adverse childhood experiences more likely to occur and reduces resilience factors for adverse childhood experiences, exacerbating their impact:
Minimizing the Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences through a Focus on Adverse Community Experiences was developed as part of Cradle to Community, a joint project of Prevention Institute and the Center for the Study of Social Policy that identified strategic policy, practice, systems, and norms change levers to make communities safer so that all children have the opportunity to develop optimally.
Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: A Framework for Addressing and Preventing Community Trauma offers a groundbreaking framework for understanding the relationship between community trauma and violence. What? Why? How? Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience Framework is a follow-up report that addresses early questions that emerged in practice and implementation of the original framework. PI has also just published six new profiles of communities implementing the framework.
Meanwhile, since Oprah’s 60 Minutes segment was taped in Milwaukee, where she herself experienced childhood trauma, we recommend that you take a look at Milwaukee’s Blueprint for Peace, which explains how a community can bring together city agencies, economic sectors, and community residents to advance more effective, coordinated, and sustained efforts to prevent violence and ensure the safety of community residents. PI co-facilitated the planning process with the Milwaukee Health Department and used PI’s Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience framework to inform the plan, which shows the promise collective action can provide for healing from multiple forms of violence and making a better present and future.
We encourage you to watch Oprah’s 60 Minutes segment and to use our materials to deepen your understanding of these critical issues.