Kruse's Korner

Notes from the Superintendent’s Desk

Recently I've become fascinated about some research related to Adverse Childhood Experiences, ACEs, and how those traumatic events can dramatically upset a child's sense of safety and well-being.  The original ACEs study was conducted from 1995 to 1997 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a doctor for Kaiser Permanente.  The study surveyed 17,000 adults about their exposure to 10 categories of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction during their childhood.  Most participants in the original study were white, middle class, and educated.  

An infant's brain doubles in size during the first year of life; by the age of three, it is 80% of its adult size.  Healthy brain development is important to creating a foundation strong for future health and mental well-being.  Learning to cope with adversity is an important part of child development.  When a young child experiences stress within an environment with supportive adults, the effects of stress are buffered; this helps with healthy child development to stress.

When a child experiences stress that is powerful, frequent, prolonged, and/or unpredictable without adult support, the child's stress-response system remains on at all times.  This can disrupt normal brain development and other organs that can cause poor health, learning, and behavior issues.  This is why I believe this is an important concern that needs a proactive approach.

The ACEs survey has 10 questions that are responded with a simple yes or no response.  While it is not uncommon for respondents to have some ACE score, it can become more of a risk factor as an individual experiences a higher ACE score of 4 or more.  For mental health an Iowa adult with four or more ACEs were 6 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression and 12 times more likely to commit suicide as opposed to someone with a zero ACEs score.

Research shows some of the following health concerns for a person with an ACE score of four or more:  4 times more likely for COPD, 3 times more likely for have a stroke, 2.5 times for likely for kidney and heart disease, more than two times as likely for arthritis, heart attack, asthma, diabetes, and cancer.  A high ACE score is also a predictor of binge drinking, smoking, and seat belt use.

In Iowa 14.5% of Iowa adults report experiencing four or more ACEs.  Over 50% of Iowa adults report experiencing at least one ACE.  The most common abuse reported was emotional abuse at 26.8% and substance abuse in the home as a dysfunction was 26.1%, followed closely by separation/divorce for children.  

So as a district, we are trying to learn more about the ACEs research.  We are reaching out to many community and county organizations in an effort to partner resources together to provide services to students who need effective services to become more resilient.  Mental, behavioral, and health needs in my opinion should be addressed as early as possible to provide the best chance for future success.  As we learn more as a district and community, I am hopeful an effective strategy can be developed to meet the continual needs of all students.


It is the policy of the South Central Calhoun Community School District to not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic status in its programs, activities or employment practices.  Questions or grievances related to this policy may be addressed to the district’s Equity Coordinator, Wendi Geno, at South Central Calhoun CSD, 1000 Tonawanda Avenue, Rockwell City, IA 50579 or call 712-297-7222. 

Posted 12.20.2018