We can change the world. Probably, you have already taken steps to change the world. Maybe you completed an ACT_RSK program. Maybe, you took a pledge to Stop Abuse. Maybe, you stepped back in a moment of anger and took care of yourself, maybe you helped someone else do that. If you have come to this site to read about how children develop, about how to manage anger, about how to practice positive discipline, about how to help children cope with fear, anger, and hurt, about the wonder of childhood and the power of caring for children, you are taking steps to change the world for a child. When we end childhood exposure to violence, aggression, and hostility,at home, school, in the community, or in the media we reduce the rates of illness and mortality. We change the world.
Health care researchers and providers have been gathering data for a long time. We have developed sophisticated models for asking and answering what keeps people healthy and what helps us recover, when we are ill. Health care, unfortunately, does not always leave us “as good as new.” Going to see a physician, psychologist, nurse, social worker, counselor, dentist, or optometrist, in my experience as a provider and as a patient, often leaves us a lot better than we were before we got the care and way better off than people who did not get care (in most cases). Care, however, can leave a few of us worse off than we were before care. Think of hospital acquired infections, rare medical errors, and life-threatening side-effects from chemotherapy. The best medicine (physical or emotional) is prevention.
Violence prevention is health care with almost no serious side-effects. It is some of the best health care, we have access to. Just look at the data. The Adverse Childhood Events Study (ACE) is an ongoing study of thousands of people that began in 1995. Researchers collected information about participants’ physical health status that year as well as participants’ experiences in their homes and communities to that point. The study is continuing to follow the health status and treatment needs for these individuals. The findings have been so powerful and consistent that other researchers are applying these results and continuing this line of research.
What are the major findings?! They are not complicated: early exposure to violence, family dysfunction and conflict predicts how long we live and how much our medical care will cost. WOW! Other research gathered across many many studies has shown that 70% of our health is determined by just a few behaviors: smoking cigarettes or other substances, drinking alcohol, sleeping, eating, and exercise. Again, Wow!
The research findings are powerful, compelling, sophisticated and stupidly simple. We will save our lives and the lives of those that we care about by protecting not just our children but our communities from violence. This is where prevention starts and why it is so important. Prevention keeps going after things go awry because things do go awry. You can hear some compelling stories about programs that aim to reduce continued harm after exposure to adverse events at This American Life.
Have you joined the Stop Abuse Campaign? Click the words and make the pledge – it is free. If you have made the pledge, take action. Help someone, help yourself.
If you don’t mind, share with us what you did to promote a world without violence or aggression.