The ACEs movement in the time of Trump
As with any remarkable change, the 2016 presidential election, a swirl of intense acrimony that foreshadowed current events, actually produced a couple of major opportunities for the ACEs movement. It stripped away the ragged bandage covering a deep, festering wound of classicism, racism, and economic inequality. This wound burst painfully, but it’s now open to the air and sunlight, the first step toward real healing. The second opportunity is how the election and its aftermath are engaging more Americans from many different walks of life. The election brought out people who hadn’t voted in years; its aftermath has engaged people who’d counted on someone else to do their citizenship work for them. All these people – all of us – now have an opportunity to work together to solve our most intractable problems. That knowledge is embodied in the science of adverse childhood experiences.
The divide we start from is stark: an Electoral College that chose Donald Trump to be president by a vote of 306 to 232, and the voters who chose Hillary Clinton by a nearly three-million vote margin (65,844,610 to 62,979,636).
So, here we are with an administration, whether you agree with its policies or not, that often uses bullying to try to get its way instead of respectful negotiation, responds to decisions it doesn’t like with threats instead of respectful disagreement, describes events it doesn’t like by saying they didn’t happen, and is enacting some policies that harm children and families. Those actions are not a matter of being merely “politically incorrect”.
ACEs science is clear: bullying, losing a parent (to divorce, separation or deportation), emotional abuse, racist or religious discrimination, physical abuse and witnessing others being hurt – along with several other types of adversity -- damage the structure and function of children’s brains, which can lead to them becoming unhealthy adults who may harm themselves or other people, or help other people.