The goal of our research group is to help alleviate the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which include moderately to severely stressful experiences such as abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence and neighborhood violence, peer victimization, and parental mental illness.

We examine the correlates and consequences of these experiences, and the factors that underlie and exacerbate their effects. We also seek to bridge the gap between academic research on interventions related to ACEs and actual practices on the ground. We focus especially on the factors affecting the effectiveness of these interventions across multiple domains, such as mental and physical health, education, and law. Finally, we are interested in the local, state, and federal policies that address ACEs and interventions related to ACEs.

Spreading the word about ACEs

In addition to conducting research, we are also interested in disseminating information about research on ACEs and using this information to improve the well-being of individuals in this community. To this end, we formed a working group of faculty, staff and student representatives across the University of Minnesota in 2018-19. During the spring semester of 2018, we had conversations with key groups at the University who are responsible for helping students in academic and mental health matters.

Out of these conversations emerged a need for more awareness about ACEs on the part of individuals who work with students but who may not have an extensive background in mental health (e.g., academic advisers, etc.), whom we are calling “first responders.”  In Fall 2019, research assistants in this group formed a registered student organization and called it HOPE (Healing, Overcoming, Persisting, and Encouraging).  Check us out on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HOPEstudentorg/)!  We are planning to use the information we gathered from the conversations in 2018-19 and the fresh new energy of HOPE to develop a presentation that we will disseminate to various “first-responder” groups on campus in Spring 2019.  Please contact us if you are interested in either receiving a presentation or participating in preparing it and spreading the word.