What is resilience?
Everyone experiences adversity in life. Resilience is what allows us to bounce back from stress, failure, challenges, and even trauma. We are not born with resilience. We develop it as we grow up and learn problem-solving, self-management, and accountability skills and the capacities for empathy and optimism.
A child’s brain develops rapidly and early experiences, both positive and negative, strongly affect growth. Nurturing care and safety is key to child well-being. Caring adults, positive role models in families and communities and community resources all support the development of resilience. Children especially depend on parents and caregivers for loving interaction to develop language, feel secure, manage stress, develop emotionally and cognitively.
The early experience of trauma can disrupt this development. But even during the experience of trauma, the same positive experiences can help children build resilience.
It’s our responsibility in Richland County to help our children become resilient. We can accomplish this by training people who interact with children—teachers, doctors, police officers, and nurses, for example—to watch for signs of abuse or neglect, and look deeper to see the underlying cause of behavior or attention issues in children. Together, as a community, we can get children appropriate treatment and prevent future trauma from happening.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic experiences that occur in a child’s life prior to the age of 18, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; domestic violence; substance use and mental illness in the household; separation from parents (e.g. incarceration and divorce); food insecurity; and homelessness.
In Richland County:
67% have at least one ACEs
27% have one ACE
14% have two ACEs
12% have three ACEs
14% have four or more ACEs
The estimated average lifetime cost per victim of nonfatal child maltreatment includes:
$32,648 in childhood health care costs
$10,530 in adult medical costs
$144,360 in productivity losses
$7,728 in child welfare costs
$6,747 in criminal justice costs
$7,999 in special education costs
That totals $210,012 average lifetime cost per child, which would be $173,679,924 for Richland County.
*Based on CDC estimates from 2010 study.
Help us help them.
We're looking for sponsors and community partners to help us prevent and address childhood trauma in our community.
What is your Resilience score?
This questionnaire was developed by the early childhood service providers, pediatricians, psychologists, and health advocates of Southern Kennebec Healthy Start in Augusta, Maine in 2006 (updated in February 2013). Two psychologists in the group, Mark Rains and Kate McClinn, came up with the 14 statements with editing suggestions by the other members of the group. The scoring system was modeled after the ACE Study questions. The content of the questions was based on a number of research studies from the literature over the past 40 years including that of Dr. Emmy Werner and others. Its purpose is limited to parenting education. It was not developed for research.
Rains wants everyone to know that the resilience questions are only meant to prompt reflection and conversation on experiences that may help protect most people (about three out of four) with four or more ACEs from developing negative outcomes. A secure early childhood is helpful, but not necessary. A higher number of positive experiences is not necessarily more protective. He regrets that the questions have taken on a life of their own and that people may have misinterpreted or misunderstood their experience of risk and resilience, based on the ACE or “Resilience” questionnaires. For more information, he suggests reading this article on ACEs Too High -- Putting resilience and resilience surveys under the microscope.
What is your ACEs score?
There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal -- physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who's an alcoholic, a mother who's a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who's been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.
But there are many other types of childhood trauma -- watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well-studied individually in the research literature.
The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: if you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.