Childhood memories, good or bad, can shape an individual’s life forever. Communities play a role in helping support healthy brain development in children. 

What is an Adverse Childhood Experience?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) include abuse, neglect or other household challenges that can impact one’s health, well-being and opportunity.  

This type of trauma can include sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Household challenges may be violence, substance misuse, mental illness, separation, divorce or an incarcerated family member. There may also be physical or emotional neglect of a child.   

Everyone plays a role in helping provide support to families with these experiences.

These events can disrupt healthy brain development in children. We all play a role in providing support to families. That includes policymakers, parents, caregivers, teachers, and neighbors.

With strong community support, children can become resilient even under the toughest circumstances.


A distressed child hugging a teddy bear

Know the risk factors

These incidents are common in Maryland. More than half of Maryland adults report experiencing at least one ACE in their life and 24% experienced three or more, according to The Maryland State Council on Child Abuse & Neglect 

Trauma can lead to behavioral health concerns.

Take the ACEs quiz from the ACE Resource Network to determine your risk or that of your child for disease, social or emotional problems.

Building resiliency

On Episode 17 of What's the 211? podcast, Springboard Community Services, talked about the quiz and how stressors affect a person's life.

Springboard Community Services is working with Harford County to build a self-healing community that reduces incidences of adverse childhood experiences. They've developed training to help children avoid these experiences.

Mental Well-Being Of Children 

Trauma can lead to stress and other mental health conditions and concerns.

According to research cited by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these events can affect social development, compromise immune systems and lead to unhealthy coping behaviors. 

Children may express signs of stress differently than adults. In young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics says you may see them regress on developmental milestones. They may be more fussy or irritable.  

Adolescents may experience changes in mood, loss of interest, problems with concentration or a change in appetite.  

Supporting Parents

It takes a community to prevent ACEs. Economic support, positive parenting and quality care and education are three foundational ways to prevent this trauma.  

211 supports parents with resources for housing, utility bills, employment and child care 

Information and Referral Specialists know the organizations that can help and the qualification guidelines. They’ll help you navigate the sometimes confusing maze of health and human services to get you the support you need to keep your children and family safe.  

You can also connect with a family peer support program or other parenting support program.

Mother consoling her distressed daughter

Teen text support

MDYoungMinds is a teen text support program that discusses teen concerns. Sign up by texting MDYoungMinds to 898-211.

If you or someone you know needs immediate support, call or text 988. You'll speak or text with someone at the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Online chats in English and Spanish are also available. 

Family peer support

You can also contact The Maryland Coalition of Families. They offer Family Peer Support Specialists who can help families navigate services, listen to concerns, attend meetings with the family, explain rights, make connections, provide learning and outreach opportunities. 

The service is free. Call 410-730-8267 and press 1 for immediate support. You can also contact the local peer support specialist in your county. 

MCF also offers support groups across the state for grief, substance use, peer support and more. Find a Maryland support group for parents, caregivers or young adults. 

You can also find resources for several mental health concerns like trauma, ADHD and depression in the Children's Mental Health Matters Family Resource Kit, available in English and Spanish.

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