• Day 20

    Day 20 – Correlation Between ACEs and Race

    This week we are wrapping up our 21-Day Social Justice Challenge - we got sidetracked with preparing for your hybrid learning transition!

    Yesterday we learned about the ten traditional Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Today we will discuss the correlation between ACEs and Race. As we briefly touched on yesterday, a growing concern among researchers and experts in the field is that many methods used to measure ACEs do not assess adolescents’ exposure to institutional racism. Dr. Paul Lanier’s article will highlight the role of racism as an Adverse Childhood Experience and how many questionnaires and methods that are used to assess ACEs overlook racism and discrimination as a form of adversity. Studies that have assessed racism, and other forms of discrimination, as an ACE show that black and brown adolescents experience ACEs at a higher rate than their white counterparts. What can be done about this? 

    When children in the United States are compared by race/ ethnicity, a pattern emerges indicating that black children are more likely to have higher ACE scores than white children. It is important to note that this alarming statistic does not fault the families of such children but rather the conditions that society has created in which certain families are left to raise their children. As we touched on yesterday, an ACE score is derived from a ten-question survey that is intended to measure an adolescent’s level of exposure to adversity. Dr. Paul Lanier, a researcher and professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, emphasizes that existing research and methods used to measure an individual’s exposure to adversity, also known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), often ignore the true effects of racism as an Adverse Childhood. While many researchers and experts in the field are beginning to explore how to expand the current indicators used to measure ACEs, it is critical that we keep this in mind when working to prevent ACEs. Click here to see why it is important for ACE measures to include exposure to systemic racism. 

    According to this article on ACEs and Minorities, “Children from minority backgrounds—whether based on race, socio-economic standing, or sexual orientation—were at distinctly higher risk of ACEs and their devastating life-long effects than middle-class white children” (Jamieson, 2018). This article again concludes that ACEs are not a racial issue but rather a societal one and poses two key solutions: teaching adolescents self-regulation and coping skills through external support systems. Click here to read more information directly from the source.

    As research has proven, systemic racism and discrimination play a role in adolescents’ mental and physical development. Let’s take a look at what we can to do dismantle interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism. Click here to check out a list of ten practices to help undo racism. 

    The article Undoing Racism: 10 Steps to Take by Javida Ovbude poses the perfect question for today’s challenge: What are your ideas for creating equity and undoing systemic racism in America? Feel free to also shout-out your favorite suggestion made article. 

    Share your responses @LWScienceHealth on Instagram.