Online Program

Adverse Childhood Experiences in the news: Implications and challenges for practitioners across sectors

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pamela Mejia, MPH, MS, Research Team, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Laura Nixon, MPH, Research Team, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Lori Dorfman, DrPH, Public Health Institute, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Jane Stevens, MA, ACEsTooHigh/ACEsConnection
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which include traumatic incidents such as intrafamily violence, sexual violence, and substance abuse, can cause devastating physical, mental and social health consequences that affect a broad range of individuals and communities. It's therefore critical that all sectors be engaged in conversations about how to prevent ACEs, and that policies in sectors like education, business, and housing take into account the issue of childhood trauma. 

As part of an ongoing project to advance communication around ACEs, and trauma in general, we analyzed news coverage and social media posts about adverse childhood experiences from 2008-2014, exploring questions such as: How are adverse childhood experiences, and their consequences, described? Who speaks, and whose voices are left out of the conversation? How does prevention appear? We also analyzed news articles covering business and education, where ACEs typically do not appear, to assess how trauma could be included in coverage of those sectors to spur vital cross-sector conversations about trauma.

Our initial findings indicate that ACEs rarely appear in news or on social media. Few speakers other than health professionals have a voice in conversations around adverse childhood experiences, and prevention strategies are largely absent from those dialogues.

We discuss the implications of these and other findings for practitioners across sectors to inform their work to advance health in all policies, including the prevention of childhood trauma.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Communication and informatics
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify challenges in communicating about trauma and adverse childhood experiences. Describe how adverse childhood experiences are framed in news coverage and social media conversations.

Keyword(s): Communication, Child Abuse

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a participating or lead researcher on multiple qualitative and quantitative research projects that focus on a range of public health issues, many of which relate to trauma and health outcomes, such as child sexual abuse, sexual violence, and teen dating violence. As lead researcher for this project, I developed all study protocols, collected data, and oversaw all aspects of data analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.