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How Social Journalism Accelerates the ACEs Movement

      Marshall Ganz, a long-time activist and community organizer who is now at the Harvard Kennedy School, says that social movements must have stories, structures, and strategies.

      Moyers & Company. Marshall Ganz on making social movements matter. Available at: http://billmoyers.com/segment/marshall-ganz-on-making-social-movements-matter; 2013. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      Using modern digital technology, journalists provide the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) movement with stories, structure, and strategies to accelerate the work of the movement's participants.
      Since the first publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) in 1998, the ACEs movement has coalesced and expanded. The original ACE Study (epidemiology), with the neurobiology of toxic stress, the short- and long-term health consequences of toxic stress, epigenetic consequences of toxic stress, and resilience research has coalesced to create a new field of knowledge often called the unified science of human development, or ACEs science.
      The ACEs movement comprises researchers and the people who apply practices and policies on the basis of ACEs science in their individual, family, and work lives across healthcare, education, juvenile justice, criminal justice, social services, and the faith-based and business communities. To transform our families, organizations, systems, and communities by integrating practices and policies on the basis of ACEs science, the goal is to grow the number of communities implementing ACEs science from approximately 200 now to include all 4000 counties and 30,000 cities and towns in the United States.
      Journalists have 4 important roles in the ACEs movement. Two involve bridging the worlds of research and practice: 1) translating the research into language that nonscientists can understand, and 2) producing stories that inform researchers and the larger community about how certain communities are successfully—or unsuccessfully—implementing practices and policies on the basis of the research, which further informs the research.
      The third role of a journalist, especially one operating a social journalism network such as ACEsConnection.com, is to accelerate the movement by moving information from people who have successfully implemented practices on the basis of ACEs science to people who want to do so. The fourth role is a traditional storytelling role—to provide narratives of the movement that express its values and inspire its participants. People open their hearts to a story in a way they do not open their hearts to data alone. However, as Ganz points out, stories are a portal to data and abstract ideas. Thus, they bring people into social movements and motivate them to take action.

      The ACEs Movement Grows

      Over the past several years, knowledge and understanding of the science of ACEs has picked up momentum:
      • Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia

        ACEsConnection Network. State ACEs Action Group. Updated states collecting ACEs data. Available at: http://www.acesconnection.com/g/state-aces-action-group/blog/behavioral-risk-factor-surveillance-system-brfss.

        have included the ACE module in their Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Surveys.
      • Three hundred forty organizations and a handful of communities (totaling approximately 100,000 people) have participated in the 1-year National Council on Behavioral Health Trauma-Informed Learning Communities.
      • Five hundred sixteen ACE Interface (www.aceinterface.com) master trainers in 10 states do presentations about ACEs science in their communities, reaching tens of thousands of people.
      • Seventy-four organizations (and a handful of communities) have earned certification in the 3-year Sanctuary Institute program (thesanctuaryinstitute.org), which trains organizations to integrate trauma-informed practices on the basis of ACEs science, and many more are in the process.
      • Many dozens of ACEs initiatives, such as the Philadelphia ACEs Task Force described by Pachter et al
        • Pachter L.M.
        • Lieberman L.
        • Bloom S.L.
        • Fein J.A.
        Developing a community-wide initiative to address childhood adversity and toxic stress: a case study of the Philadelphia ACE Task Force.
        in this special issue of Academic Pediatrics, have sprung up in states, counties, and cities across the United States.
      ACEs Connection Network, which I launched in 2012, has become an important hub of this movement: a news hub, a resource hub, and a connections hub. The network, which is supported by generous funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment, is comprised of 2 parts:
      ACEsTooHigh.com is a news site for the general public, and is a venue for traditional storytelling. It brings ACEs science and practices and policies on the basis of ACEs science into the public discourse. We post 1 or 2 stories a week about research about childhood adversity or about how organizations are implementing practices on the basis of ACEs science. These articles have included stories about how schools,

      ACEs Too High News. Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline; suspensions drop 85 percent. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2012/04/23/lincoln-high-school-in-walla-walla-wa-tries-new-approach-to-school-discipline-expulsions-drop-85; 2012. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      the faith-based community,

      ACEs Too High News. Ex-pastor marries science, bible studies to heal wounds of childhood trauma. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2012/03/13/ex-pastor-marries-science-bible-studies-to-heal-wounds-of-childhood-trauma; 2012. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      courts,

      ACEs Too High News. In Safe Babies Courts, 99% of kids don't suffer more abuse, but less than 1% of family courts are Safe Babies Courts. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2015/02/23/in-safe-babies-courts-99-of-kids-dont-suffer-more-abuse-but-less-than-1-of-u-s-family-courts-are-safe-babies-courts; 2015. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      pediatricians,

      ACEs Too High News. Pediatricians screen parents for ACEs to improve health of babies. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2015/08/03/pediatricians-screen-parents-for-aces-to-improve-health-of-babies; 2015. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      youth services,

      ACEs Too High News. San Diego Youth Services embraces a trauma-informed approach – kids do better, staff stay longer, programs more effective. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2014/12/14/san-diego-youth-services-embraces-a-trauma-informed-approach-kids-do-better-staff-stay-longer-programs-more-effective; 2014. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      cities and towns,

      ACEs Too High News. Tarpon Springs, FL, first trauma-informed city, embraces messy path toward peace. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2014/09/17/tarponsprings; 2014. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      and towns and states

      ACEs Too High News. State data fuels the ACEs conversation in Iowa. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2014/10/16/state-data-fuels-the-aces-conversation-in-iowa; 2014. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      are solving our most intractable problems by implementing trauma-informed and resilience-building practices. Page views on the articles range from several hundred to more than 975,000, and we distribute the articles to other sites, including the Chronicle of Social Change and the Huffington Post.
      ACEsConnection.com is a social journalism network for people who are developing trauma-informed and resilience-building practices in their work, community, and personal lives. Its goal is to serve as a catalyst for change and to effectively assist communities to integrate practices on the basis of ACEs.
      Members of ACEsConnection.com receive a daily digest and weekly roundup of summaries and links to research, news, and reports about or related to ACEs science and practice. They can peruse the network's Resources Center and make connections with people who are implementing trauma-informed and resilience-building practices. In addition, any member can post articles and essays to the site. In December 2016, the number of members of ACEsConnection.com passed 12,000; they come from all walks of life: education, health care, politics, social services, law enforcement, faith-based and business communities, etc. Over the next 3 years we plan to grow ACEsConnection.com to more than 20,000 members.
      Some people call ACEsConnection.com “Facebook for the ACEs movement.” However, unlike many social networks, the primary focus of ACEsConnection.com is not discussion. It is a community-of-practice social network—it facilitates and supports the face-to-face work that people do to integrate ACEs science into their communities.
      At the heart of ACEsConnection.com are the community groups, which support ACEs' initiatives in geographic-based or interest-based communities. You can think of them as mini-ACEsConnections for neighborhoods, cities, counties, states, and interest-based groups, such as educators. The group becomes the community's hub for news, data, best practices, and inspiration.
      ACEsConnection.com provides the structure to which Marshall Ganz refers, and helps community members as they develop their strategies to move away from using blame, shame, and punishment to change unhealthy or criminal behavior, and instead use practices of understanding, nurturing, and healing.

      Acknowledgments

      Financial disclosure: Publication of this article was supported by the Promoting Early and Lifelong Health: From the Challenge of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to the Promise of Resilience and Achieving Child Wellbeing project, a partnership between the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) and Academy-Health, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (#72512).

      References

      1. Moyers & Company. Marshall Ganz on making social movements matter. Available at: http://billmoyers.com/segment/marshall-ganz-on-making-social-movements-matter; 2013. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      2. ACEsConnection Network. State ACEs Action Group. Updated states collecting ACEs data. Available at: http://www.acesconnection.com/g/state-aces-action-group/blog/behavioral-risk-factor-surveillance-system-brfss.

        • Pachter L.M.
        • Lieberman L.
        • Bloom S.L.
        • Fein J.A.
        Developing a community-wide initiative to address childhood adversity and toxic stress: a case study of the Philadelphia ACE Task Force.
        Acad Pediatr. 2007; 17: S130-S135
      3. ACEs Too High News. Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline; suspensions drop 85 percent. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2012/04/23/lincoln-high-school-in-walla-walla-wa-tries-new-approach-to-school-discipline-expulsions-drop-85; 2012. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      4. ACEs Too High News. Ex-pastor marries science, bible studies to heal wounds of childhood trauma. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2012/03/13/ex-pastor-marries-science-bible-studies-to-heal-wounds-of-childhood-trauma; 2012. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      5. ACEs Too High News. In Safe Babies Courts, 99% of kids don't suffer more abuse, but less than 1% of family courts are Safe Babies Courts. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2015/02/23/in-safe-babies-courts-99-of-kids-dont-suffer-more-abuse-but-less-than-1-of-u-s-family-courts-are-safe-babies-courts; 2015. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      6. ACEs Too High News. Pediatricians screen parents for ACEs to improve health of babies. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2015/08/03/pediatricians-screen-parents-for-aces-to-improve-health-of-babies; 2015. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      7. ACEs Too High News. San Diego Youth Services embraces a trauma-informed approach – kids do better, staff stay longer, programs more effective. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2014/12/14/san-diego-youth-services-embraces-a-trauma-informed-approach-kids-do-better-staff-stay-longer-programs-more-effective; 2014. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      8. ACEs Too High News. Tarpon Springs, FL, first trauma-informed city, embraces messy path toward peace. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2014/09/17/tarponsprings; 2014. Accessed July 14, 2017.

      9. ACEs Too High News. State data fuels the ACEs conversation in Iowa. Available at: https://acestoohigh.com/2014/10/16/state-data-fuels-the-aces-conversation-in-iowa; 2014. Accessed July 14, 2017.