Why Treat Childhood Trauma Like a Computer Virus?
Social work has never been the focus of my professional life. I was born and raised in the IT world, so it was a surprise when someone suggested that childhood trauma was something that I could help solve.
When I first heard the term adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), I was asked to take a ten question survey about experiences that may have impacted my life. No problem, I thought, my childhood wasn’t perfect but “trauma?” Nah!
It’s amazing how triggering ten questions can be. As I considered each one, so much of my childhood came rushing back that I literally became lightheaded. I started the survey certain that I would score a zero, but my actual score was… troubling.
In the days and weeks afterward, I spoke to friends and coworkers about my ACEs score and the trauma behind it. Surprisingly, it resonated with nearly everyone. I went from never having heard the term before, to realizing that its impact is everywhere.
The most fascinating discovery was learning all the ways that I, a “tech” guy without a background in social work or psychology, can help solve the problem. Technology has a key role to play in ending the epidemic of childhood trauma, which SURPRISE! doesn’t end in childhood.
But in my haste to explain how I got to that point, I neglected to define childhood trauma and ACEs. Childhood trauma can be described as very difficult or unpleasant experiences that cause someone to have mental or emotional problems. This trauma can stay with us for a lifetime, getting in the way of concentrating at school and making it difficult to become a productive, reliable employee. The worst part is that, unless there are services in place deal with the trauma, it is then passed down from one generation to the next. This is why, when you start looking into adverse childhood experiences, you quickly come across the phrase “the cycle of trauma.”
So back to the tech world I live in: what do the unique knowledge, talents, views and ideas that collectively exist in the tech sector have to do with ending an epidemic of childhood trauma that diminishes just about everyone in one way or another?
The professionals who have been dealing with the most visible results of ACEs over the years are knowledgeable, talented, dedicated, resilient and resourceful. But, they have been working alone for the most part. This problem affects all of us, yet we have been content with letting them “get on with it” as best they can even if their departments struggle just to buy pens or have more than one whiteboard in an office of dozens of people.
This area is ready for technical innovations both small and large that will help them tackle the complex problem of ACEs. And when I talk about innovations, I am not referring to Elon Musk-level ideas involving brain implants and ugly cybertrucks. Know of a way to assemble a community-based resource directory for little or no cost? Can you show a team of overworked people how to carve out free time by automating repetitive tasks without investing in expensive software? Know anything about machine learning? Want to get more out of life than making the leaderboard in the latest MMOG?
If so, you will find that your skills can do more than make someone else’s stock price go up. Your knowledge can help save lives, heal families and build a future for your local community that is supportive, family-friendly and trauma-free.
Getting started is as easy as going to AnnaAgeEight.org. While you there, download the book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment and sign up for a copy of 100% Community: Ensuring trauma-free and thriving children, students and families. Send the authors a message on the contact page and offer to help.
You are just what your community needs.