CoastLine: Childhood Trauma Can Change DNA, Adult Health Outcomes; Building Resilience Is Key
North Carolina’s latest child health report card, just out this week, gives the state an ‘F’ in “Housing and Economic Security” due to the high percentage of children living in low-income homes and neighborhoods. Children from families that are not financially secure, according to NC Child, fare worse in almost every indicator of health, including birth outcomes, access to care, health-risk behaviors, and mortality.
Early childhood experts – doctors, educators, therapists – have known for decades that adverse childhood experiences can cause long-term negative impacts. A person’s physical health, the development of the part of the brain that engages in complex thinking, the pre-frontal cortex, even a person’s DNA -- can be adversely affected by childhood trauma.
What was groundbreaking about the Adverse Childhood Experience Study, or ACES, conducted about twenty years ago by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente, is the discovery by researchers that not only can ACEs harm people over the course of their lives – but they are surprisingly common.
A prominent national pediatrician, Dr. Nadine Harris, founder of the Center for Youth Wellness, gives the ACEs test to all her patients. If children receive early intervention, Dr. Harris finds that some of physical and mental manifestations of ACEs are reversible.
On this edition of CoastLine, we explore that idea, what the local community is doing, and how some local leaders are working to build resilience in children.
Jane Morrow is the Executive Director of Smart Start of New Hanover County, an early childhood education organization that serves children from birth to five years old.
Julie Ozier is the Clinical Services and Forensic Interviewing Supervisor for the Carousel Center, an organization that provides critical services to victims of child abuse in southeastern North Carolina.
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the U.S. and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who—through interpreters—provide assistance in over 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.
1-800-4-A-CHILD or 1-800-422-4453
For family support, childcare assistance, parenting classes, and professional development for those with children from birth to 5 years old:
Smart Start of New Hanover County: http://www.newhanoverkids.org/
For children who have experienced sexual/physical abuse and/or neglect:
The Carousel Center: https://carouselcenter.org/
1501 Dock Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
If you suspect a child has been or is being abused, contact your county Department of Social Services:
New Hanover County DSS: https://socialservices.nhcgov.com/abuse/
1650 Greenfield Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-3400
Brunswick County Department of Social Services:
60 Government Center Drive, Building B
Pender County Department of Social Services:
The Rape Crisis Center of Coastal Horizons Center, Inc. is a non-profit, stand-alone rape crisis center in Southeastern North Carolina serving victims at two locations: Wilmington and Shallotte. The priority is to provide victims of sexual assault with 24 hour crisis response, individual counseling, information and referrals, and law enforcement/court advocacy and accompaniment. If you or someone you know is in crisis due to sexual assault or abuse, please call (910) 392-7460 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with a counselor.
Get your ACE score: