Does anyone have a watered down version of the ACES survey?  My superintendent is willing to allow us to use ACES to try to identify students who have high ACES scores to direct services in their direction, but he is concerned with how triggering some of the questions could be.  I'm curious if other schools have used something to gather at least some  of the information collected on the ACES survey.


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I don't recommend using the ACE survey with students under 13 years old.  I give the full survey to patients/students 13 years and OLDER and they give me back a number - NOT identifying which ACEs are applicable to them.  Also, need to have good handouts explaining their ACEs score to them such as the resources on here.  

I agree with Tina and Cissy. I would add that I would recommend that any screening for ACEs includes some sort of screening for assets/resiliency factors.  High ACE scores do not necessarily mean that a child needs additional services. There are lots of kids with low scores that are struggling because their resiliency skills haven't been developed.

I agree wholeheartedly with Tina, Cissy, and Vanessa. In addition, I believe it is pertinent that the ACE study was designed as a reseach study and not a diagnostic tool. If your principal is open to ACEs and trauma-informed principles, start with staff education and resiliency-building practices. I’ve seen too many organizations jump in and do ACEs surveys, re-traumatize kids, and then drop this initiative altogether as it’s too triggering. You have a great opportunity with your principal’s support! I would suggest starting with staff self-care and helping them see behavior as a symptom in their students. My guess is they already know which kids are struggling without needing to do a formal ACE inventory.

There have been several discussions in this site about whether ACES screening by school personnel is appropriate.  See this link for additional insight. 

Here are several things to consider before launching any ACEs screenings.  1 - In the U.S. we have laws that prohibit surveying children without parental consent.  Parent permission is not just a curtesy, it's federal law.  I posted that information in the conversation link above, if you want to read the details there.   2 - I agree with Doty.  Having worked in education for more than 30 years, I can tell you "screening" for Adverse Childhood Experiences is not like screening for developmental delays or reading difficulties.  Trauma-informed practices should be learned and implemented by all school personnel as these are habits of perspective, interaction and relationship-building for all the adults working with children and not a "service" to provide students with ACEs - which by the way, research indicates is upwards of 64% of our children on average have at least one or more ACEs.   3 - Another thought to consider, how likely are the parents of children who may have been neglected or abandoned, witnessed domestic violence, been physically or sexually abused, and/or experienced community violence and police activity  - how likely are these parents to report this trauma to school personnel who are mandated reporters to Child Protective Services?   4 - Trauma can happen to a child two-weeks after a "screening".   If a school relies on screenings to determine who "gets trauma-informed services", how would anyone know that a child who previously "screened" with an ACEs score of zero, now had an active trauma?  How likely is it that screening will be helpful to anyone, least of all the child?  5 -  In reality, there is no such thing as "trauma-informed services".  There is only mental-health providers who are licensed to treat children with trauma and there are school teachers, principals and counselors who are trauma-sensitive in their practice of providing a safe school learning environment.  ALL schools and classrooms need to be a trauma-sensitive environment.  School professionals don't need to know the details of a child's trauma to provide this.  If your school personnel have not been adequately trained in the practices, your superintendent should not approve any "screenings" for ACEs, as screenings do not make for a trauma-sensitive environment.   Hope this has clarified the issues and helps your school meet it's goals.         

I applaud you for seeking input from others in this field before embarking on a plan of action.  Best wishes in your future endeavors.

I agree with Susan and the others - again it seems we have priorities in the wrong place(heart in the right place). We should be advocating/legislating for all schools become safe havens/trauma informed places,  before launching any type screening efforts. Got to start with all personnel and the entire school staff  being trained and the mindset of our Department of Education to change these guiding principles that will change outcomes. Maybe then and in the future we might not have the overwhelming ACE statistics we currently have. And another vital stakeholder in this is our parents. Most parents love their children, they might just not know how to. So you see , there are lots of basic 101 Parenting assistance that has to be weaved into the trauma informed/ whole child model.

Give thought to an anonymous screening using the one-page ACE Questionnaire.  Then pool the results and invite the participants to an auditorium and project the pooled, anonymous results, asking the audience what they think their significance is.  Freed of personal acknowledgment, but discussing the overall results of the room, the discussion can be very meaningful.  

Thank you Dr. Felitti for weighing in on this discussion and for all your work in this field.  What you described is exactly what I did at my community screening of "Resilience" last fall in my small suburban community just south of Buffalo, NY.  With an adult audience who viewed the film first prior to calculating their ACE score, this was quite impressive.  As was done in the film, we compared our collective results with the percentages found in your landmark study.  Even with our attendees who were largely professionals in education, counseling, and pastoral care, our results aligned with yours.  The reality that ACEs are not "out there" but among us was a significant realization by our attendees.  There were several powerful moments at this event, but this "reveal" about ourselves was palpable.   

For clarification, several of us in this discussion work in public schools with children under age 13, hence my response recommending careful consideration of surveying young children.

Thank you again for your research and helping us to better understand the impact of trauma. Your work is helping to make our world a better, more compassionate place for everyone.

Susan Ciminelli, Executive Director

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