Watch the video introducing the first Bermuda based nationally available ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study.
Understanding how Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs affect persons’ health and behaviour throughout their life has been one of the most transformative developments in public health over the last two decades. Adverse childhood experiences are negatively associated with poor educational attainment, challenges with employment, and health-harming behaviours. ACEs often underpin anti-social and criminal behaviour in adolescence and in adulthood, the development of poor health. Dr. Stephanie Guthman called Bermuda’s attention to ACEs in 2018 when she generated the idea of Family Centre hosting public conferences on ACEs and collecting local research on the prevalence of ACEs so that we can better understand ourselves and move forward to address the critical issues at hand.
In Bermuda, human services professionals have recognised ACEs as a common occurrence preventing individuals from fulfilling their full potential due to negative impacts on health, social behaviour, education and employment. Understanding the potential impact of early adversity across the life span is critical to breaking harmful intergenerational cycles. The collaborative work on ACEs between Dr. Stephanie Guthman, Family Centre, and Tara Hines, Bermuda Health Council, has generated the research in this White Paper which will help to inform Bermuda on the state of our overall health. It is hoped that this will help to drive local services and programmes to prevent ACEs wherever possible as well as supporting those who continue to be affected by childhood trauma.
It is universally recognised that whilst eliminating ACEs is an aspiration, people will continue to experience and be adversely affected by ACEs. Not everyone who suffers ACEs will however experience the same harmful outcomes. This is due to the presence of protective factors that balance out the risk factors in their lives. Building resilience can help people avoid and overcome many of the problems arising from childhood adversity. Support from a family member, friend, doctor, mental health professional, teacher, mentor, coach, or from elsewhere in the community can prove the critical difference between ACEs landing a person into a detrimental life course or, with the appropriate help, finding better health outcomes and prosperity.
This work on ACEs in Bermuda, supported jointly by Family Centre and Bermuda Health Council, is a first step towards understanding ACEs in our community, its impact on our overall health, social, and economic wellbeing and how to build resilience in our community so that we can be a healthier society. This will require support of the human services that help people to heal from ACEs and build protective factors needed to not only survive life but to thrive in life. Thanks to Dr. Stephanie Guthman and Tara Hines’ pioneering research work in this area, we will be using this report to better understand how our services and those of our partner organisations can help build resilience in some of our most vulnerable individuals.
Dr. Sandy De Silva, Psy.D.
Executive Director, Family Centre
Clinical Psychologist, Registered in Bermuda
The Bermuda Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study was supported by Family Centre and the Bermuda Health Council with funding support from Centennial Bermuda Foundation (formerly Bank of Bermuda Foundation) and Mary Childs.
If you have questions about the 2018 Bermuda ACEs Study, email ACEsBermuda@gmail.com