On August 26, Robin Karr-Morse addressed the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Center Task Force with a call to challenge the perception that only those from the poorest families experience childhood trauma. Karr-Morse, a renowned author, therapist and speaker, currently serves as a consultant to the Task Force Executive Committee.

“The (traumatic) histories that we don’t talk about permeate all classes,” said Karr-Morse.

The solution, she says, is preventive tools and information; the earlier they’re put to use, the better.

According to Karr-Morse, while the common opinion is that only families in poverty experience the “toxic stress” associated with chronic exposure to adverse events throughout childhood, research shows that trauma knows no socioeconomic bounds.

“The original ACE study showed us very clearly that stress and trauma affect everyone,” Karr-Morse said. “The traditional thinking in social work is ‘it’s all about poverty.’ Well, it’s not all about poverty. Issues such as addiction and suicide and ill health can penetrate all people, regardless of income or background.”

Preventive Access, Professional Support

The ACE Center Task Force of Shelby County is composed of more than  dedicated to raising community awareness about the costly and harmful outcomes of toxic stress arising from adverse childhood experiences.

Established in May, 2014, Task Force members currently meet bi-monthly to plan the implantation of two pilot “Universal Parenting Places (UPP)” slated for launch in January 2015.

Located at Knowledge Quest and Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, the UPPs will provide Shelby County families with preemptive access to professional support to reduce challenges to their children’s emotional and behavioral health at the earliest possible point in their development.

“This is probably one of the most critical undertakings that we will pursue in the city of Memphis because it impacts all of the things we deal with today,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton. “Our families crying out for help—real help.”

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