Talking about trauma

In 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente launched a groundbreaking investigation into the relationship between common childhood traumas — referred to as adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs — and damaging physical, mental and social health consequences later in life.

Although the study findings are profound, their impact is limited in part because no one has yet developed a compelling and concise way to characterize ACEs or the implications of the findings for nearly every system in our society, especially those dealing directly with children and youth.

BMSG is collaborating with ACEsConnection to:

  • analyze news stories about ACEs to see how it's being described;
  • analyze how race and childhood trauma appear in social media;
  • co-host a convening on the connections between childhood trauma and race;
  • meet with experts in the field to find out how they talk about trauma, whether prevention is included in their discussions, and whether they use messages that require testing;
  • explore how journalists should be reporting on this issue.

Ultimately, this project, funded by The California Endowment, will equip the field with the language and skills needed to more effectively communicate about childhood trauma; train a new breed of online journalists to tell stories using that language; and give advocates the tools to transform systems, such as school disciplinary systems, that may compound, rather than mitigate, the traumas children experience.

Related publications

Trauma, resilience, and #blacklivesmatter: How do racism and trauma intersect in social media conversations?

Issue 24: Adverse childhood experiences in the news: Successes and opportunities in coverage of childhood trauma

Talking about trauma: Findings and opportunities from an analysis of news coverage

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