The ACEs Message and Its Unintended Consequences, with Dr. Jonathan Purtle

Season 3Episode 8May 20, 2021

Jonathan Purtle from Drexel University explores the best, and worst, ways to talk to the public about the long-term impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as child abuse.

When the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study came out and proved the link between traumas such as child abuse and long-term negative health and mental health impacts, why did the public latch onto some results but not others? Why are people less convinced about the physical health impacts of ACEs than others? What role does political leaning play? And are we messaging some things that are harmful or counter-productive? We talk to Jonathan Purtle from Drexel University about how to make sure the general public understands and wants to make the kinds of system changes necessary to improve kids’ lives.

Topics in this episode:

  • ACEs go mainstream (02:14)
  • Studying the right way to message about abuse (06:39)
  • Research results (10:19)
  • People resist ACEs’ brain/body connection (15:38)
  • Unintended consequences (20:01)
  • How to talk about solutions (27:28)
  • More research needed (32:41)
  • What to say and what not to say (35:48)
  • For more information about this topic (42:36)


Jonathan Purtle, DrPH, MPH, MSc, associate professor of health management and policy, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

“Public Opinion About Adverse Childhood Experiences: Social Stigma, Attribution of Blame, and Government Intervention,” Purtle J, Nelson KL, Gollust SE, Child Maltreatment. March 2021. doi:10.1177/10775595211004783

Adverse Childhood Experiences Study

Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice

Sandra L. Bloom, MD

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

“Beyond ACEs” with Dr. Lisa Amaya-Jackson, One in Ten podcast episode (December 4, 2019)

NCA 2021 Leadership Conference, June 7-9, 2021

Transcript to come.