Expert weighs in on adverse childhood experiences and Chauvin trial impact

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Parents can’t always shield their kids from death and tragedy. It’s a reality many of us know having heard children as young as nine testify in the Derek Chauvin trial. Experts say, If you know what’s happening chances are your children know too.

Some of the most compelling testimony we’ve heard in the trial came from young people. One of the witnesses who was 17 at the time said she often feels guilt for not being able to do more. And with nearly half of all children experiencing some type of adverse childhood trauma, watching the trial unfold may be adding to that.

We’ve all seen enough images to know who George Floyd and Derek Chauvin are. And now that Chauvin’s trial is underway we’re seeing and hearing a lot more than before.

Kennedy Simone and Frederick Whitmore said you cant escape it, no matter how old you are.

“When I was growing up, social media was just getting its legs. It was news. But you got your information through certain outlets. But now everything is in your face,” said Whitmore.

“I have an eight-year-old niece and I remember when she was about four she said she wanted to be a police officer and now she’s like I don’t want to be a police officer,” said Simone.

Adverse childhood experiences or ACEs play out in a variety of ways: experiencing death, abuse, poverty, substance abuse, neglect and more. Around 40% of children will experience it, for Black children that number climbs to 60%.

“The greatest thing is to have a conversation with your kids. We can’t be pushing this to the side. We can’t say ‘don’t look at the television.’ Because no matter what we do they have cell phones, they have laptops,” said ACEs Indiana Coalition Director Jessica Herzog-Hall.

Studies show that children who experience ACEs are more likely to experience further trauma into adulthood, if it’s not addressed.

Herzog-Hall said the initial ACEs study conducted in the 90s didn’t even address issues like racism, discrimination, and bullying.

“As adults we had the responsibility to really be watching out and caring for our children as much as possible. And one of those main steps is going to be having those conversations and building that resilience,” she said.

Simone and Whitmore said in a way these topics are sad, but it’s opening people’s eyes.

The ACEs Indiana Coalition is a branch of Youth Services Association and provides presentations about how to talk to kids about this exact topic.