Last October, the New Mexico Voices for Children hosted their second annual KIDS COUNT Conference, in conjunction with Ngage New Mexico. Aptly named “Childhood Trauma: From Symptoms to Systems Change” the conference aimed to build awareness for, identify and engage multiple major stakeholders in collaboratively working to prevent and mitigate the 10 major Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that have a defining cumulative negative impact on children’s lives and society as a whole.
PREVENTION IS FAR BETTER THAN “FIXING WHAT’S BROKEN”
AND AWARENESS IS ELEMENTARY TO PREVENTION
It may be tempting to dismiss conferences as forums for dialogue that are often detached from the “real” world. But systemic mitigation or prevention of a dire social issue can only happen when those who are in unique positions of power, authority, and capacity to prevent it gather for active informed dialogue that exponentially increases awareness and leads to tangible strategies plus a firm commitment to collaborative effort. Conferences hence can be a powerful roadmap to preventing ACEs and effectively supporting those already impacted by them in order to disrupt the cycle from repeating in the next generation. Why? Because they bridge the divide between empirical data and public mobilization.
GOVERNMENT HAS A BIG ROLE TO PLAY AS A LEADING FORCE IN PREVENTION
Over the course of history, governments have been powerful forces in the prevention of dire health and social crises, through whole-scale systemic investments in research and public health, which have lead to preventing millions of children from suffering and dying needlessly. However, with the significant drop in such health crisis has come a lull in the government’s active role in such prevention movements.
But although the nature of the “health crises” may have changed overtime, the need for the government’s leadership and active participation has not. Prevention is a far better option in a multitude of matters than attempting to fix the damage after it has already been done, as history has amply shown. This is certainly the case with mitigating the impact of and preventing Adverse Childhood Experienced (ACEs) and the government’s critical role in that endeavor cannot be overstated.
AN ACE DIALOGUE: BRIDGING THE RESEARCH VS. PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS DIVIDE
As much data as the research community produces, much of the research generated often may never reach the general public. This has been the case with Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV), the least known of the 10 ACEs documented extensively in the landmark ACE Study and beyond, which has less than 15% awareness despite the fact that its many dire consequences have been extensively documented by researchers over the past 3 decades.
As we know, awareness itself is curative. Building awareness of ACEs (and particularly of CDV) is the first step to effectively combating the profound impact, in childhood and beyond. So there is an urgent need to bridge the gap between research and public knowledge, especially as it pertains to public health.
CONFERENCES: A TIMELY & EFFECTIVE SOLUTION
The ACEs conference in New Mexico is a prime example of using a conference platform to bridge the researcher-public divide by building critical awareness through extensive dialogue and engaging government and other public institutions in a collective prevention solution that can be much more effective than past efforts have accomplished in the state to date.
As this article notes, there’s a demonstrable need for New Mexicans to significantly expand its awareness and decisive action on ACEs, as it is the state with some of the poorest predicted outcomes in the country among those impacted by them. “In New Mexico, 18 percent of our children suffer from three or more ACEs, according to a report released earlier this year by Child Trends. The national ACEs rate is 11 percent.” In addition, “the state’s behavioral health care system was dismantled over false charges of Medicaid fraud and has yet to recover” (James Jimenez).” Increasing awareness and underscoring the need for committed collaboration spearheaded by the government establishment are essential first steps to fostering prevention and decreasing the prevalence of ACEs, in New Mexico and nationwide.
To read more about the conference, click here for the full article, Local Conference Will Focus on Childhood Trauma: https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/2018/10/20/local-conference-focus-childhood-trauma/1700144002/