Advancing Trauma-Informed Legislation in Maryland and Beyond

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As a partner and supporter of No More Stolen Childhoods, you are already familiar with the concept of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). The ACE study, spearheaded by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente in 1995, broke new ground in documenting the long-lasting and compounding nature of traumatic experiences in childhood. We now know these experiences often have lifelong impact and, when not addressed, can lead to significant physical and mental health challenges. While the science driving these insights has continued to refine, translating the science into trauma-informed legislation moves considerably slower.

No More Stolen Childhoods was honored to partner with Maryland SCCAN (State Council for Child Abuse and Neglect, Maryland Essentials for Childhood and The Family Tree to research and produce Toward a More Prosperous Maryland: Legislative Solutions to Prevent and Mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Build Resilient Communities. We are confident that this will be a valuable and pragmatic guide for Maryland legislators and other readers to understand the science of ACEs and developmental trauma, their human and economic costs, how to foster resiliency, and the range of legislative methods to continue improving the lives of Maryland children and families from generation to generation.

We are delighted to offer this resource to our many partners and allies across the state and beyond. While we at NMSC aim to change the public perception of child sexual abuse and help those who have been abused to find fulfillment, the central finding of the ACE study is that the sexual abuse of children does not occur in a vacuum. That is, where sexual abuse is or has been present, children are more likely to also experience every kind of maltreatment, as well as environmental and social hurdles such as domestic violence, poverty, housing instability, and so on. Adverse childhood experiences, in the home and in communities, often intertwine or operate in tandem.

Just as child sexual abuse does not occur in a vacuum, neither is it prevented nor healed from in isolation. The advancement of child and family welfare in one domain contributes to the advancement of their welfare in others. In order to benefit from the many forms these efforts take, we have included an appendix to the document that offers a comprehensive breakdown of both Maryland’s and nationwide legislative efforts to prevent and mitigate ACEs. Section A presents states’ efforts along five different types of legislative mechanisms, while Section B presents legislative efforts within the CDC’s “Six Research-Informed Policy Strategies to Prevent and Mitigate ACEs”. For those actively advancing the legislative needs of children, these charts represent an immense resource, with summaries and links to over 150 pieces of legislation nationwide. The research on ACEs has been recognized in over 280 proposed bills and 60 enacted statutes in 42 states across the country.

Collectively, we are heading in the right direction, and it is in the spirit of a shared commitment to preventing abuse and strengthening families that we share Toward a More Prosperous Maryland. We look forward to continuing to advance this momentum in Maryland and beyond.