(UK) Gloucestershire: Experts have brain images showing how abuse at home damages kids

Nov 18, 2018, Gloucester News: Why these shocking images of a child's brain need to be seen and understood by everyone Experts in the safe nurturing of Gloucestershire's children have laid bare the impact of a neglectful upbringing. Side-by-side images of a healthy three-year-old's brain and a neglected three-year-old's brain provided a stark message during a day-long conference held in Cheltenham to raise awareness of ACEs - adverse childhood experiences.

The campaign hopes to inform those working with young children, teenagers and adults with ACEs to help guide them to build resilience.

Scientific research collated over 20 years has shown negative childhood experiences have a physical, and therefore biological, impact on children's development that can affect them throughout their lifetime. Some evidence shows the physical impact on the brain if a child has been neglected, or subjected to trauma compared to a nurtured child. It shows an obvious difference in the brain's development. The impact of this subsequently means the child, teenager and then adult could develop behavioural patterns and the young person growing up may fail to make correct or balanced choices. A conference was held in Cheltenham last week to talk about the ‘Action on ACEs’ campaign that is being launched in Gloucestershire. Chris Spencer, director of Children’s Services at Gloucestershire County Council and the man charged with improving the department's 'inadequate' Ofsted rating, led the conference and the feeling in the room was generally that this new approach to dealing with people who have suffered an adverse childhood experience was that there is a real possibility of change for the future of those that have suffered trauma…. “It is tough for schools as they have a lot of pressure on them to meet targets and lack of funding. However, we heard from two head teachers about how they approach children who have ACEs and use a restorative approach. “In the past there have been a lot of exclusions, and the system means that they have to go to another school, but it is better to work with and stick with the children who we know…. Action on ACEs is hoping to help health, education and public servants to understand the biology of the brain and child and adolescent behaviours after 'adverse childhood experiences' otherwise known as ACEs. ) What is an ACE? The Action on Aces Strategy booklet says: “ACEs are specified traumatic events occurring before the age of 18. They can include direct experiences such as sexual, physical or verbal abuse and emotional and physical neglect. “Plus they can include indirect experiences, such as parental separation, substance misuse, mental illness, incarceration or domestic abuse.” It is believed that nearly half the people in England experience one ACE and nine per cent experience four or more. When a child has been subjected to one of the adverse experiences, it means that there could be a chance the child could develop "health harming behaviours". Sadly this means that there is an increased likelihood of mental and physical health illness. However, with the knowledge and the science out there about how children up to 18 years old are physically affected by ACEs, along with implementing resolution conversations with children, plus mentoring and not criminalising children, will positively help build resilience. What is resilience? The Action on Aces Gloucestershire booklet says: "Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity." … Now he hopes that with the evidence and understanding of ACEs that it will help the police in Gloucestershire gain a better understanding of the young people who seem to be getting into trouble. … “Now we have the research it would be criminal to not use the research and act not act on it.” UNICEF representative Ben Perks was at the event to give a talk on the process of what happens developmentally to the brain. Action on ACEs hope to help health and education professionals and public servants to understand the biology of the brain and child and adolescent behaviours after adverse childhood experiences otherwise known as ACEs. … During the ACEs conference he said: “We want to bring an end to childhood adversity and the people of Gloucestershire think that we can do it. “ACEs has come to the surface as there is a greater understanding of childhood development. …