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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 8, 2021 03:35 PM
From: Representative P. Michael Sturla
To: All House members
Subject: Establishing a Tool to Quantify Trauma in Schools
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) refer to the abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction experienced by children before their 18th birthday. ACEs have lifelong impacts on children, families, and the community while also burdening our overall state budget. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States loses $144,360 in annual economic productivity per victim, while simultaneously costing $22.4 billion in healthcare, $4.2 billion in special education, and $3.5 billion in criminal justice expenses.

The CDC reports that individuals who have experienced more than four adverse childhoold experiences are:
  • 12 times more likely to attempt suicide;
  • 10 times more likely to inject drugs;
  • 7 times more likely to abuse alcohol;
  • 5.5 times more likely to miss 14 or more days of work in one month; and
  • 2 times more likely to have cancer, a stroke, heart disease or diabetes.
According to a 2016 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 13% of Pennsylvanians have four or more ACEs. These significant consequences are direct cost drivers of our state budget. This number will continue to grow unless we are able to measure and target childhood trauma before it manifests into adulthood. I am introducing legislation that will direct the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to conduct a comprehensive study to find an age-appropriate measuring tool that our 500 school districts can use to measure, track, and combat trauma with the necessary support services.

Every day, Pennsylvania students with multiple ACEs come to school and try to learn while battling the physical, mental, and behavioral implications of childhood trauma. Before we can implement the right responses, we must know the gravity of the problem so we can better assist those who need our help the most. Please join me in the prevention and mitigation of childhood trauma.

Introduced as HR72