ACE Awareness Foundation an effort to help parents, caregivers limit or prevent a child’s chronic exposure to trauma
“As the public defender, I see daily the consequences of adverse childhood experiences in the lives of the thousands of children bumping up against juvenile court,” said Stephen Bush, Shelby County Public Defender.
“In fact, 93% of youth in detention have survived repeated trauma. This strong correlation between trauma and contact with juvenile court is undeniable and something that we, as parents and as community, cannot afford to ignore.”
Bush has served on the ACEs Task Force since it was founded in 2014. The task force launched the ACE Awareness Foundation. Since then, the foundation has created two Universal Parenting Places (UPPs) which provide any parent who walks through their doors with counseling and information involving family-related issues or concerns. In July, ACEs also opened the “Warm Line” — a free, live telephone line that connects parents with trained professionals who provide parenting guidance and support.
“We’ve known for many years about the link between early childhood traumas and future justice system involvement,” said Bush. “What is becoming increasingly clear, though, is that toxic stress experienced during childhood is crippling to a child in ways far beyond problems at school or an encounter with the justice system.”
For his first public outreach as ACE Awareness Foundation board chair, Bush appeared on the Commercial Appeal’s ‘Talk, Memphis’ podcast hosted by journalist David Waters.
“It’s about fundamental fairness. Which is really what our work at the public defender’s office is about. We are appointed to represent individuals that can’t afford counsel, because I believe everyone deserves a fair shake. The Constitution requires it,” said Bush on the podcast. “But if you take that same idea, certainly every kid born in this community should have a fair shake and a healthy life – to live a healthy and whole life.”
“I can tell you, if we get this right about reducing and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences, we can begin to talk about reducing the size of our criminal justice system, right-sizing our juvenile justice system and the savings that could come from that could very well fund anything we need to do in public education.”
You can listen to the entire podcast here.
Learn more about the work the ACE Awareness Foundation is doing to increase knowledge among policy makers, state and local leaders and citizens about the effects and causes of toxic stress in this piece that aired in April of 2016 on PBS Newshour. You can watch the entire segment here.