A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jay Brewer: Thanks, Mom and Dad, for making me a ‘Zero;’ take the ‘Adverse Childhood’ test for yourself

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for making me a Zero.

That’s right, a zero.
We most often associate being a zero with being a bad thing, but in this case it is a wonderful gift!

Let me explain!

Recent studies into Adverse Childhood Experiences has created a wealth of research into how early childhood experiences impact our physical, emotional, and mental well-being later in life.  These experiences go beyond the small challenges of childhood that create resilience.

Adverse Childhood Experiences are the scary, chronic, and unpredictable stressors a child faces.  These experiences occur in an environment that lacks the support of an adult that is capable of supporting them and navigating them successfully through these troubling times.

This groundbreaking research study, known as the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, or ACE study, demonstrates a clear scientific link between many types of childhood adversity and the adult onset of physical disease and mental health disorders. 

Part of the study is a ten item questionnaire that asks about experiences that happen to you prior to your eighteenth birthday.

Jay Brewer

These questions cover areas such as: household dysfunction, neglect, or abuse. 

The first five questions are personal and have to do with physical and emotional stressors a child experiences such as: having a parent who insulted, humiliated, or made you feel emotionally afraid; or having a parent who hit, pushed, slapped, or touched you sexually. 

The next five questions have to do with family members and include areas such as: the loss of a parent due to separation or divorce, a family member being sent to prison, witnessing one’s mother being abused, and having someone in the home suffering from addiction, depression, suicide, or mental/behavioral problems.

For more information or to take the actual 10 item questionnaire you can visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html or google Adverse Childhood Experience study.
The research clearly indicates that “time does not heal all wounds.”

Our kids deserve a childhood free from neglect, trauma, and abuse.  I want to challenge our parents and adult caregivers to reflect on the score they will “gift” to their children. 

I want to thank my parents for giving me a perfect score of “zero.” 

I hope I can gift my three kids the same “zero.”

Jay Brewer is Superintendent of Dayton Independent Schools. This appears on the schools’ website.

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