Unaddressed childhood trauma may lead to disease, disability or early death

Media Release
For Immediate Release

St. Agatha, Ontario, May 30, 2012 – Influential change-makers connected to child and youth services have called for service systems that address psychological trauma in young people, which is pervasive in Canada.

According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, failure to address childhood trauma may lead to disease, disability or early death. Dr Ann Jennings, Executive Director of the Anna Institute, a non-profit organization based in the United States, entwined her personal story with statistical data to explain the reality of adverse childhood experiences as the greatest health challenge faced by society.Dr Jennings has dedicated more than 25 years to helping others understand trauma in the name of her daughter, Anna, who took her own life at age 32; the end of a too-short lifetime in the mental-health system, plagued by the aftermath of sexual abuse as a young child from age 3 to 7. She recounted how all service systems including healthcare, child welfare, school, mental health, legal and psychiatric had failed her daughter. No one asked or looked into what might have happened to her daughter.

It is in light of Anna’s story and many other similar young people that kidsLINK organized an Invitational Symposium where regional system leaders, policy makers, senior provincial officials and agency leaders explored: Why a Trauma-informed System of Care Ensures Better Outcomes for Children and Youth.

This invitation-only event featured an opening presentation by Dr. Jennings and responses from local leaders.

The 45 Symposium participants discussed the importance of a society that understands psychological trauma in young people. In a system where all agencies, schools and professionals, as well as parents and caregivers, understand psychological trauma, its impact and how to respond to it, they will not further contribute to the trauma and will achieve more effective outcomes.

Noteworthy was the sincere commitment among attendees to make un-addressed childhood trauma a thing of the past.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that level of commitment from people who can actually influence it happening,” said keynote speaker Dr. Ann Jennings.

“That, I thought, was pretty amazing. It’s very heartening and it indicates to me that there’s a real cultural shift going on, not only in the country that I’m from, but also here in Canada,” she said.

“This could not have happened 25 years ago. There wasn’t the level of awareness of the prevalence and the impact of childhood abuse that there is today; in the public there wasn’t awareness or a willingness to even talk about these issues.”

Linda Fabi, Director of Education with the Waterloo Region District School Board, said her greatest hope following the Symposium was that the willingness to understand childhood trauma will continue to spread: “To me the greatest hope is the power of partnerships. The more integrated we are and the more common language we have, the more aligned we are in our direction that this matters, this is important,” said Fabi as she reflected on the Symposium.

The Executive Director of Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region, Alison Scott, also spoke of the importance of effective and widespread partnerships in a system-wide approach to a trauma-informed society.

“What that leads to is a common framework; a common lens and a common understanding, and that will lead to action, as a system, not as a number of individuals.” As he considered the range of conversations and topics covered during the symposium, kidsLINK board member David Cornwall tied everything back to the commitment he heard from all attendees to carry this important work forward.

“We wanted our agency to become trauma- informed, and we are, but we also recognize that it’s not enough for us,” said Cornwall.

“I heard a lot of involvement already but I heard a lot of commitment to do more, and that is very, very encouraging.”

Check out more trauma-informed resources and the ACE Study athttp://kidslinkcares.com/forprofessionals/trauma-informed-resources

kidsLINK provides a broad range of programs and services to help more than 9,000 children, youth and their families facing or at risk of social, emotional and mental health challenges each year. Consistent with its commitment since 1858 to help children and youth achieve their potential, kidsLINK specializes in enabling wellness, building resilience and reducing the impact of psychological trauma.


Petronilla Ndebele
Director of Communications
519-746-5437 x105
Mobile: 519 573 7377
[email protected]

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