Driving into work today I was listening to the radio’s report on the “Zero Tolerance Policy” and found myself in tears thinking about those children being taken away from their parents, probably the only constant in their lives right now. I am not a political person and will not be getting into the why’s and how’s of this current policy, because to be honest I don’t really understand it myself after listening to and reading so many conflicting reports and views. But what I started to think about and what I do want to bring awareness to is that what is happening to these children and so many other children in other circumstances around the world, and maybe even you when you were young, is called an “Adverse Childhood Experience”, or ACE.
ACE’s are somewhat common negative events that happen in childhood. They are:
Abuse: Emotional, physical, sexual
Household Challenges: Mother treated violently, Substance abuse, mental illness, separation or divorce, incarcerated household member
Neglect: Emotional and physical
A large study ran from 1995-1997 gave about 17,000 participants questionnaires as to what and how many ACEs they experienced and related that to physical exams and current health status. What they found was shocking. The more ACE’s reported by the participant increased their risk for negative health and well-being across their lifetime. This is called a graded dose- response relationship and is a very reliable statistic. The below list is not exhaustive, but here are a few physical and mental health challenges that rise with ACEs experienced:
*Ischemic heart disease*
*Sexually transmitted diseases*
So as you can see, there are some serious health outcomes that can come from a not-so-optimal childhood. The reason I bring this up is because there is hope in the form of PREVENTION and AWARENESS for both the children at the borders and around the world, as well as adults that have experienced any of the above ACEs. Early intervention is imperative for children going through hard times and needs to be recognized and help sought out immediately, usually in the form of talk therapy and an entire support team.
For adults, recognizing that you have gone through an event like this and that it could be related to the health challenge you are facing is the first step. Both the conscious memories you hold onto and the subconscious way your brain has been modified by these negative events play a part in the way your body responds to and deals with stressors. We know that neurodevelopment is effected, and more specifically the bodie's HPA axis, a regulator of our stress and many other hormones, is changed. Working with a Naturopathic Doctor is a great way to start to re-frame your brain and get the support in the form of mind-body techniques, nutrition and individualized herbs that you may need.
If you or someone you know is suffering, please reach out and report any abuse (see below), and let’s all hope that these children at the border are reunited soon and get the help they need.
-Child reporting by state https://www.childwelfare.gov/organizations/?CWIGFunctionsaction=rols:main.dspList&rolType=Custom&RS_ID=5
-A safe place to reach out and learn more