No, we don’t need the president nor congress.
We do need the following people in your county to stop business as usual and focus on preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
- City mayors
- City counselors
- County commissioners
- School board members
These local elected leaders—many of them your neighbors and colleagues—have the capacity to collectively understand the emotional and financial costs of ACEs and trauma. We can’t have family-friendly cities and counties while we live in an epidemic of childhood trauma that’s hiding in plain sight.
We have the data, research, technology and collaborative strategies to achieve collective innovation in each county—and create and strengthen the services shown to prevent ACEs, strengthen families and improve student achievement. We know exactly which policies and programs each school needs to keep students with ACEs from being marginalized and told to suffer in silence through the day.
We need our local elected officials to go from saying this, “Well, preventing ACEs is not really what we are set up to do with your tax dollars,” to, “Our priority will now be the safety, health and education of every child—all while ensuring the city, county and schools do a great job serving all residents.”
Yes, it requires reimagining how city hall works—in partnership with county and school leadership. It means being data-driven and cross-sector. It means reaching across departments and agencies. It means the public sector reaching out to the private sector. It means transparency.
We must motivate our elected officials and their staff to commit to measurable and meaningful change. We need them to understand that from a third to two-thirds of our kids, depending on the neighborhood, are living in homes where abuse, neglect, substance misuse and untreated mental health challenges are the norm.
It’s really as simple as that. 30 humans, sworn to public service, can radically change the trajectory of ACEs in your county. It’s time to ask them to do so. We must politely not accept excuses as a response.
We must also show compassion with our leaders, as many of them have untreated childhood trauma due to ACEs. That’s the irony of it all.
It’s been twenty years since the ACEs Study was published. We can’t wait another twenty to finally address the abuse, neglect and trauma. We need to be courageous as we disrupt city, county, and school systems that continue to completely fail our most vulnerable families. Our children’s lives depend on it.