Press Releases & Op-Eds

New CDC Report Shows Preventing Early Childhood Trauma Can Lead to Dramatic Improvements in Long-term Health and Life Outcomes

by Rush L. Russell, Executive Director, Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey

103 Church Street, Suite 210, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a major new report, Vital Signs, focused on prevention of early childhood adverse experiences (ACEs).  Vital Signs is a monthly report from the CDC about a major health issue in the U.S. and what can be done about it.

This new report is the first-ever analysis that provides detailed estimates of the potential to improve the health of Americans by preventing ACEs.  ACEs are essentially indicators of serious traumatic incidents that happen to children and include events like child abuse, having a parent with mental illness or even divorce.

More than 25 years of research has found that this type of severe or “toxic stress” increases a child’s risk for later heart and lung disease, alcohol and mental health problems, unemployment, marital problems and even suicide.  ACEs have also been shown to modify the basic brain architecture governing a child’s learning and behavior.

This new report found more than 3 in 5 Americans have at least one ACE but maybe more importantly, 1 in 6 have an ACE Score of 4 of more, dramatically increasing their risk for poor health and life outcomes.

Other major highlights from this report include:

  • At least 5 of the top 10 leading causes of death are associated with ACEs.
  • Preventing ACEs could reduce the incidence of depression by 44% or 21 million cases.
  • Preventing ACEs could reduce the likelihood of other major health problems — such as chronic lung or kidney disease, asthma, and stroke — by 15% or more.
  • Preventing ACEs could cut current smoking by 33%, and heavy drinking by 24%

These numbers are astounding. Where else can you identify a key factor, in one place, that could substantially affect such a broad range of complex health and social problems?  

With the additional insight from this report, it underscores that the ACE Study is one of the most powerful public health studies of the last 50 years, and much more can and should be done to prevent ACEs and strengthen resilience among children who have experienced severe stress. But right now, not enough people know about the ACE Study or steps we can all take that make a difference.

The report cites a range of strategies that have been shown to be effective in preventing ACEs, including:

  • Strengthening economic supports for families:  Policies such as minimum wage, earned income tax credits, and family-friendly work policies have been shown to reduce the overwhelming stress leading to ACEs.
  • Connecting youth to caring adults/activities: Research shows that children having at least one caring adult acts as a protective factor that can reduce the impact of ACEs and strengthen resilience.
  • Ensure a strong start for children:  improving access to high quality child care and programs like evidence-based home visiting provide vital support to build a strong foundation for healthy child development, early learning and positive parenting.

What does the report mean for New Jersey?  First, the Department of Health is currently gathering ACE data for NJ residents so we will have our own state profile to act on.  Second, Senator Vitale introduced a resolution (SCR100) urging all legislators to be aware of the ACE Study and for the Governor to recommend new policies to prevent ACEs.  Every parent can recognize how their parenting practices may contribute to the type of toxic stress associated with ACEs.  Communities can expand programs that link children with positive mentors.  Businesses can adopt family-friendly work policies that reduce worker stress and absenteeism — and eventually the costs for health care premiums.  We can all raise awareness about the ACE Study and support the connections that can help parents more effectively navigate the many, and often stressful challenges, of raising our children.  We have an extraordinary opportunity to use this new information to build a brighter future for all children in New Jersey. 

For more information, read the Vital Signs Report:  https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aces/index.html

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SENATOR, COMMISSIONERS JOINED PREVENT CHILD ABUSE-NEW JERSEY AT THE NEW JERSEY STATE HOUSE TO DISCUSS THE CDC REPORT ON AT THE NEW JERSEY STATE HOUSE TO DISCUSS THE CDC REPORT ON PREVENTING ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES

November 15, 2019 
For immediate release                                                 

For more information, contact:
Pamela Stalcup, PCA-NJ & ChildWIN
Office: 732-246-8060 x123
Cell: 732-484-9977
E-mail: [email protected]S

TRENTON, NJ, November 15, 2019: At the New Jersey State House, Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey (PCA-NJ) Executive Director Rush Russell provided an overview of what he deemed “one of the most powerful public health reports of the last 50 years” — the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Vital Signs November 2019 report: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – Preventing Early Trauma to Improve Adult Health.  The new report found that preventing ACES could reduce the incidence of depression by 44% and reduce cases of other major chronic health condition, such as heart disease, by more than 10%.  Russell stated, “These findings are astounding – where else can you find, in one place, solutions to complex social and health challenges in the U.S.?”

Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) presented a summary of Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 100, which he co-sponsored, urging the Governor to develop strategies to prevent children’s exposure to ACEs.  Vitale added, “It is paramount that every legislator and elected official across the country at all levels learn about the ACE study and what it means for policies.”

Christine Norbut Beyer, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, stated “Five of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States are associated with ACEs.”  She added, “At DCF, we’re incorporating an ongoing study of ACES in our work to keep New Jersey residents safe, healthy and connected.”

Deborah Hartel, Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health said, “As public health professionals, it’s important that we understand Adverse Childhood Experiences and their long-term impact on chronic disease and behavioral health.”  She added, “Investing in trauma-informed care and ACEs prevention makes sense because ACEs are so tied to the health and social challenges that it should be the foundation of our response to the CDC report.”

PCA-NJ Senior Vice President Gina Hernandez noted that the agency created a new subsidiary, the Child Wellness Institute of New Jersey (ChildWIN), in direct response to the scientific evidence showing the direct correlation between higher ACE scores and higher incidences of depression, obseity and other chronic health conditions.  Hernandez discussed the positive outcomes of ChildWIN’s Trauma Transformation Initiative in schools and after-school programs.  She stated that most teachers and parents do not know about ACEs and how prior trauma affects a child’s ability to learn.  Hernandez added, “A child wins when an entire community promotes safety, healing and nurturing.”

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Founded in 1979, Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey promotes “Great Childhoods”, positive parenting and healthy child development.  Its evidence-based programs are designed to prevent child abuse and neglect in all forms for all NJ children.

Visit www.preventchildabusenj.org or call 732-246-8060 x123

L-R: Susan Staloff, PCA-NJ Board; Senator Joseph Vitale;

NJ DCF Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer;  Rush Russell,

PCA-NJ Executive Director; Middle Township Police Chief

Christopher Leusner; PCA-NJ Senior VP Gina Hernandez;

NJ DOH Deputy Commissioner Deborah Hartel; and

Harvey Lermack, PCA-NJ Board Vice President.

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Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey Announces Four New Board Members

Date:     August 29, 2019                                                                
Contact Name:  Pamela Stalcup
E-mail:  [email protected]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             
Phone Number:  732-246-8060 x123

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – August 29, 2019 – Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey announced the election of four new members to its Board of Directors:  Dr. Joseph E. Colford, Michael Giacobello, William Guthrie and Michael Tatro.  “All four of our newest Board members bring exceptional leadership skills and experience in nonprofit management and governance that can further strengthen our efforts to ensure a great childhood for all children in New Jersey,” stated Robert D. Rotondi, President of the PCA-NJ Board of Directors. 

Joseph E. Colford PhD of Middletown is a Psychologist and retired from his role as Full Professor at Georgian Court University.

Michael Giacobello of Bridgewater is Vice President/Advisory Board Relationship Manager at Investors Bank.

William Guthrie of Maplewood serves as Senior Vice-President and Regional Manager of Investment and Fiduciary Services at Wells Fargo.

Michael Tatro of Manasquan is Executive Director, Equity Trading at JPMorgan. 

For more information about Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey, please visit www.preventchildabusenj.org or call 732-246-8060 x123.

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Founded in 1979, Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey promotes Great Childhoods, positive parenting and healthy child development.  PCA-NJ’s evidence-based programs in all 21 NJ counties are designed to prevent child abuse and neglect in all forms for all NJ children.  PCA-NJ is the New Jersey State Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, a network of chapters throughout the United States.

www.preventchildabusenj.org  

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Child Wellness Institute of New Jersey (ChildWIN) Tackles Trauma and Builds Resilience for NJ’s Children

Date:     June 20, 2019                                         Contact Name: Pamela Stalcup
E-mail:  [email protected]
Phone Number:  732-246-8060 x123

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – June 20, 2019- Parents in one Somerset County childcare center are calling it “one of the most helpful programs out there to help me better understand and connect with my child”.  The teachers are saying the project has transformed the classrooms and center into a space where staff feel more confident in handling children’s emotions and behaviors in a positive, teachable way.  And the children themselves love the results.

These changes are the result of a new, research based 6-month intensive program offered by The Child Wellness Institute of New Jersey in partnership with The Kiddie Academy of Bridgewater, funded by the James B. Boskey Memorial Foundation. The program — Trauma Transformation:  Healing Hearts and Building Resilience — works with childcare centers, school districts and before/after school programs to transform them into calm, nurturing social emotional environments.  It involves an assessment of the childcare center operations, intensive staff training and coaching, the creation of “safe spaces” such as a “Cozy Corner for Kids”, tools for children such as Calm Down Kits and Feelings Thermometers and a parent workshop. It also includes a component on trauma and its effect on a child’s brain, body and behaviors so that staff and parents are equipped to work with children who may have experienced trauma in their early years.

Parents like Heather Danberry feel programs like this really help use common language at school and home to support her son, Travis. “My son, Travis, began attending Kiddie Academy in September 2018 when he was 2 years old.  Our family had experienced a great deal of change, which had a significant impact on him.  In addition to these changes, Travis has a severe speech delay, inhibiting his ability to express himself verbally.  The combination of everything led to undesirable behaviors.  With open communication, understanding and his teachers’ training through the Trauma Transformation Initiative, Travis has flourished.  HIs teachers now have a better understanding of how to address his emotions and how to help him better understand them.  The calm down kits, specifically allowing him to blow bubbles or look at the feelings chart have been very helpful.  He loves bubbles and the act of making them allows him to control his breathing which helps calm him down.  The feelings chart is an easy way for him to let his teachers know how he is feeling when he isn’t able to verbally express himself.  I am very happy with the positive changes that have occurred and am thankful for the training the teachers received.” 

The teachers really responded to the training because it had a positive effect on their classrooms and on the children.  “The children in my class solve problems between one another by telling each other how they’re feeling. They go to the feeling chart and point to the level that they are feeling when they have a disagreement between each other or when they’re happy. This has helped them solved problems between one another themselves,” stated Erin K, teacher Kiddie Academy of Bridgewater.

But teachers and parents are not the only ones noticing the positive difference. The children ages 0-5 are learning to identify emotions, calm down in a safe and healthy way and build their own internal resilience; skills they will need long after their child care years.  One 4 year old child told us, “thank you for letting me use the Calm Down Kit. It really helped me take my mind off why I was upset. I love the kaleidoscope!”

The project’s evaluation found that teachers improved understanding of children’s behaviors, increased their use of effective social emotional strategies in the classroom and a reduction in challenging classroom behaviors. The results also show parents learned new ways to connect with their child and more effectively handle challenging behaviors.

The Kiddie Academy of Bridgewater was one of the first centers to offer this class to its parents with astounding results. “Our parents are asking us when we are offering it again! This has been such a valuable addition to our curriculum. A true way to help parents navigate and better understand their child’s temperament, feelings and behaviors. Plus, each parent leaves with practical tools to help their child at home!”, said Christina Andersen, Executive Director of Kiddie Academy of Bridgewater.

“We have really used the training by ChildWIN to connect with each and every child in a positive way. When they walk in we help them identify their feelings and we stay connected to each child. They feel safe, happy and empowered!”

The Child Wellness Insitute is a subsidiary of Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey and offers state-of-the-art trainings and parent workshops to any organization that works with children and families. The goal is to support parents and professionals with developing their children’s social-emotional health; which ultimately, helps children grow into the healthy adults.

Executive Director Rush Russell stated, “Results like these demonstrate how programs starting in early childhood can help children build resilience and support their health and development.”

ChildWIN is a non-profit organization available to every county in New Jersey. For more information on bringing ChildWIN to your organization or become a donor for the Child Wellness Institute of NJ, please call 732-246-8060 or email [email protected]  For more information about Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey, please visit www.preventchildabusenj.org or call 732-246-8060 x123.

Making an Impact at Kiddie Academy, Bridgewater, NJ

Erin K. standing near her Cozy Corner that helps children identify their feelings and take a moment to calm down with a Calm Down Kit and Feelings Thermometer.

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Founded in 1979, Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey promotes Great Childhoods, positive parenting and healthy child development.  PCA-NJ’s evidence-based programs in all 21 NJ counties are designed to prevent child abuse and neglect in all forms for all NJ children.  PCA-NJ is the New Jersey State Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, a network of chapters throughout the United States.

www.preventchildabusenj.org  

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month – You Can Help!

By Rush L. Russell, Executive Director, Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  Some people turn away from the topic of “child abuse”, believing it’s something that only happens somewhere else and is the fault of “bad” parents. And many others recognize the extent and harm caused by child abuse, but don’t truly believe we can do anything to prevent it.

On all counts, the facts suggest otherwise:

  • One major common denominator found in most cases of child abuse is overwhelming stress that can come with being a parent. Like it or not, it just comes with the job. For parents out there – raise your hand — how many of you have found raising your kids to be stressful–sometimes causing extreme frustration, anger and creating problems for your marriage, other children, or other family members?  Parenting is magical but also stressful and parents need support, education and patience to navigate the inevitable challenges they will face.
  • Factors that can increase parents’ stress include a child’s health or mental health issues, alcohol or substance abuse problems, or just a lack of knowledge about how to deal with a child’s challenging behaviors.  https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/child-maltreatment  These issues exist in every community in New Jersey, small and large, across all 21 counties of our state.

https://www.nj.gov/dcf/childdata/protection/2014_AnnualAbuseNeglectReport.pdf Continue reading

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A Call to End Use of Spanking to Discipline Children

an Op-ed by Rush Russell, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey

During the past week, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an updated policy statement calling on parents to end spanking as a form of discipline. The Academy is an organization of 67,000 pediatricians nationwide committed to the optimal physical, mental and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

Although studies are finding that fewer parents are using spanking to discipline their child, a Harris poll in 2013 found that 70% of parents supported a statement that “a good hard spanking is sometimes necessary to discipline a child.”

While many parents believe spanking is a harmless or even effective form of discipline, the research is becoming overwhelmingly clear that spanking is not only ineffective, but that it increases the child’s risk for an array of alarming and destructive outcomes…ones any parent hopes to avoid in raising their children.  Parents will also say they were spanked … and “turned out all right”.  But again the research paints a different picture.

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Robert D. Rotondi Elected President of PCA-NJ Board of Directors

Wall Township Resident Robert D. Rotondi elected President of the Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey Board of Directors.

The Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey Board of Directors elected Robert D. Rotondi as President. Rotondi, of Wall Township, is Head of Business Management and Transformation in Global Liquidity and Cash Management for HSBC Bank USA, N.A. He has been a member of the PCA-NJ Board of Directors since 2012, having most recently served as Vice President. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University.

“PCA-NJ is extremely fortunate to have in its new Board President such an experienced and passionate leader,” said Rush L. Russell, Executive Director. “Rob has been a tremendously active board member. Over the past six years, he has participated on our Executive, Membership and Program Committees. I look forward to continuing to work with Rob to strengthen families and build brighter futures for all New Jersey children.”

Rotondi succeeds Catherine P. Wells, Esq., Member of the Firm at Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi, as Board President. Wells had served four years as President and will continue to serve on the Board. “I can’t say enough wonderful things about Catherine’s leadership these past four years,” Russell stated. She has been a great pleasure to work with and has been an inspiration to her fellow board members, to me, and our entire team.”

For more information about Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey, please visit www.preventchildabusenj.org or call 732-46-8060 x123.

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Gov. Murphy Signs Bill to Protect N.J Kids in Schools

Bill will close hiring loophole, keeping sexual abusers out of schools

 

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – April 12, 2018 – Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law which will better protect students in New Jersey schools from sexual abuse.

Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey (PCA-NJ) and the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA), led the advocacy efforts for S414/A3381, which prohibits a school district, charter school, or contracted service provider holding a contract with a school district or charter school from employing a person serving in a position which involves regular contact with students unless the employer conducts a review of the employment history of the applicant by contacting former and current employers and requesting information regarding child abuse and sexual misconduct allegations.

Rush Russell, Executive Director of PCA-NJ stated, “New Jersey has taken a giant step forward to better protect students from sexual abuse which may be committed by school employees.  This important bill stops the secrecy that protected offenders from hiding behind nondisclosure agreements and moving on to other jobs in other schools….and abusing more children”.

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An Epidemic of Sexual Harrassment: Our Role to Protect Children

Stories about sexual abuse and harassment are making headlines nearly every day.  Due to recent media reports regarding allegations against Hollywood celebrities, elected officials and thousands of women telling their own stories through the hashtag #MeToo, there has been a lot of conversation about this problem online, in the paper, and in our workplaces.

On Sunday, April 12, Olympic Gold Medalist Aly Raisman added to that conversation when she shared her own story on 60 Minutes. In speaking out against the sexual abuse she experienced as a child at the hands of former U.S. Olympic team doctor Dr. Larry Nassar, Aly highlighted the importance of sexual abuse prevention programs and the need to teach young children about personal body safety. Continue reading

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