Stillwater News Press

April 11, 2014

Concerning Kids 04-12-14

You can help break cycle of child abuse

Sarah Ragland
Stillwater NewsPress

— Family heirlooms are something that many families cherish and love to pass down through the generations.

Each heirloom is something specific that once meant so much to someone in that family. These items are usually deliberately passed down to help remind the families of their heritage.

Everyone also passes down things unintentionally. These things are usually experiences that have continued through generations, and something that is a hard cycle to break.

As children we are exposed to events that shape our environment. Some of the experiences enhance our view of the world, and how our bodies function.

Other times, incidents occur that leave a mark that isn’t able to be viewed from the outside.

Each incident that occurs can increase what is called our “Ace Score.” ACE is an acronym for Adverse Childhood Experiences.

There are three types of ACEs: Abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual), neglect (physical and emotional), and household dysfunction (mental illness, incarcerated relative, mother treated violently, substance abuse and divorce).

There was a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente that began in 1995 and continued to follow the 17,000 participants for 15 years.

Through this study it was discovered that there was a direct link between a child experiencing a traumatic event and the adult onset of chronic disease, as well as mental illness, doing time in prison and work issues. Out of all the participants, 64 percent had a score of at least one.

As the number of ACEs increase, so does the risk for negative health outcomes.

How does this affect you, me, and the youth of today?

We continuously support efforts to decrease the substance abuse problems, fight the obesity rates, and battle the war against cancer. What if we could decrease all of these things, by decreasing the amount of trauma our children are experiencing?

Helping parents in our community get on the right path, and have a solid shoulder to lean on can help our children know a safe and happy world.

Sometimes parents only have the options of bad, worse, and tragic.

Giving them opportunities to not only learn the skills that some of us are fortunate to understand, but also the opportunity for them to help their children learn what life should be like.

The children of our community deserve to live a life free of the behaviors and health issues associate with the circumstances they happen to be born in. I encourage you to find ways to help parents who need the chance to give their children a better life. Contact the United Way Volunteer Center at 377-2161.

Sarah Ragland is community coordinator for Smart Start North Central Oklahoma.