New Report Demonstrates Ways to Reduce the Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences in New Jersey

A new report details the significant challenges and long-range consequences for children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in New Jersey. Sponsored by The Burke Foundation, The Nicholson Foundation and Turrell Fund, the report, Protecting and Healing Together, demonstrates how the effects of ACEs can be alleviated through a targeted and comprehensive statewide response.

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ACEs can be defined as extremely stressful or traumatic events, such as abuse, parental dysfunction, violence or neglect. More than four out of 10 children in New Jersey have experienced at least one ACE, and nearly half of those children have experienced more than one. Multiple or chronic ACEs may lead to toxic stress, which has a detrimental effect on both physical and mental health, especially when they occur at the same time as children’s brains and bodies mature. If no positive buffer exists to help mitigate the effects of ACEs, damage can be lifelong.

Since such a high percentage of New Jersey children have experienced ACEs, the consequences can be felt statewide. Unaddressed ACEs are strongly linked to several of the leading causes of death in adults, such as cancer and heart and lung disease, as well as factors as varied as school expulsions and future imprisonment. In this way, ACEs experienced today result in higher public spending in health care, mental health, education, and criminal justice years in the future.

However, ACEs can be prevented, and when identified, steps can be taken to help children heal. The report lists five areas of opportunity which hold the most promise for further investigation, and it includes recommendations for New Jersey policymakers in order to build brighter futures for both our children and our communities.

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The foundations that sponsored the report are interested in hearing from community voices across New Jersey to inform the ongoing work to combat ACEs in the state. Please fill out the form on the ACEs Collaborative site to let them know what you think of the information contained within this report, and how you can help play a role in the development of an ACEs Action Plan for New Jersey.