Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events endured by children that may have long-lasting negative impacts on their lives. These experiences, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse, as well as household dysfunction, are linked with numerous negative health outcomes such as binge drinking, smoking, and depression. Such traumatic events are more commonplace than one would suspect. Results from a 2018 study conducted by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare showed that 65% of Idaho adults have experienced at least one ACE, and nearly one in four (23%) experienced four or more ACEs.
As April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, this is a great time to consider ways to minimize the impact ACEs can have on children and their families. At Terry Reilly, we strive to create opportunities for positive interactions between adult and child patients that model healthy interactions and create safe spaces for otherwise stressful life events.
There are many ways that we can demonstrate safety and trust to our patients. Our providers model consent when they ask permission to look inside a mouth or listen to a heart. We ask for two patient identifiers not only to comply with HIPPA but also to assure our patients that we work to keep their information private. We inform patients that we will keep their confidentiality as long as no one is hurting them and they are not hurting others. We ask questions about their safety and take steps to remedy the situation when they are not. We may not always be able to prevent abuse, but we offer resources when we know there has been trauma.
One example is free counseling for all Terry Reilly OB patients with ACEs. A 2018 study by the American Academy of Pediatric showed that children of parents with an ACEs score of 4 and higher are significantly more likely to suffer from behavioral health problems. Awareness of both a parent and child’s ACEs score assist providers in considering other interventions that could help families such as counseling, addiction treatment, medication, and parenting classes. If we hope to reduce child abuse, we must also prioritize addressing the trauma of parents if we have any hope in reducing the intergenerational impacts.
Child Abuse Prevention Month is a good reminder for us all that trauma can have long-term effects and we have ways of helping patients heal and move forward in their lives.
With the nonstop news coverage, it’s easy to think that coronavirus symptoms are an emergency. It is, however, important not to run to the ER at the first sign of fever. Instead, call your doctor or use our telehealth program if your child has:
- a fever
- a cough
- fast breathing or shortness of breath
- signs of dehydration, such as not peeing for 8-12 hours, no tears when crying, or being less active than usual
Our telehealth team will help you know if you can care for your child at home or if you need to go to the doctor’s office or the ER.
Go to the ER if your child:
- has breathing problems. Look for muscles pulling in between the ribs or the nose puffing out with each breath
- is confused or very sleepy
Healthy children do not appear to be at higher risk of getting COVID-19.
While your children are out of school please note these tips:
- Limit their social interactions. Remember, if children meet outside of school in groups, it can put everyone at risk. Let’s all do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Clean and disinfect frequently used spaces in your home often.
- Have everyone wash their hands often. This is a great chance to practice the alphabet!
- The transition to being at home will be different for preschoolers, K-5, middle school students, and high school students. Talk to your child about expectations and how they are adjusting to being at home versus at school.
- Check with your school on plans to continue meal services during the school dismissal. Many schools are keeping school facilities open to allow families to pick up meals or are providing grab-and-go meals at a central location.
- Watch for signs of stress in your child. Some common changes to watch for include excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration.
- Create a schedule and routine for learning at home, but remain flexible. Keep your consistent bedtimes and get up at the same time, Monday through Friday, structure the day for learning, free time, healthy meals, and physical activity, and allow flexibility in the schedule—it’s okay to adapt based on your day!
The outbreak of COVID-19 is stressful for many people. Fear and anxiety about a virus can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults, children, and teenagers. Coping with stress positively will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
People who may respond more negatively to the stress of a crisis include:
- Older people & those with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
- Children and teenagers
- People who are helping with the response, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
- People who have Mental Health conditions including problems with substance abuse
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- Worsening of your chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Here are some things you can do to positively support yourself:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories about the pandemic, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Make time to unwind and try to do activities you really enjoy (walking, cooking, reading, etc.)
- Connect with others via talk, text, or video chat to talk about your concerns and how you’re feeling
If you or someone you care about is feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or if you or someone you know feels like you want to harm yourself or others call or Call: 1-208-398-4357
— Dr. Andrew Baron