Author: Prevent Child Abuse America

“We all have the power to change someone’s life through our relationships.”

That is a key takeaway from this past Sunday’s 60 Minutes segment on childhood trauma where Oprah interviewed Dr. Bruce Perry, Senior Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy and member of the Board of Directors of Prevent Child Abuse America. Healthy relationships – between adults and children, and adults and adults – are the critical factor that can prevent children from experiencing traumatic events, also known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Research shows that ACEs, like child abuse and neglect, actually disrupt the development of a child’s growing brain.

These disruptions lead to negative, lifelong health consequences such as increased risk for heart disease, mental health issues and suicide. However, healthy relationships reduce social isolation and promote connectedness, providing a supportive presence for adults and children and helping to prevent ACEs in the first place.

This presence is most important during the first three years of a child’s life when the brain is growing the fastest and is most malleable by experiences. New research into the health outcomes of positive childhood experiences gets to the heart of Dr. Perry’s conversation with Oprah. By working to ensure that parents and communities are best equipped to create safe, stable and nurturing environments for children, we can prevent childhood trauma before it occurs. And it all starts with relationships.

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