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Assessment and Screening of Positive Childhood Experiences Along with Childhood Adversity in Research, Practice, and Policy

Merrick, Jillian S., Narayan, Angela J. – 2022

Despite empirical evidence documenting the role of positive childhood experiences in predicting adaptation over the lifespan and across generations, this research has not yet been fully integrated into public health and policy efforts. We argue that adults’ benevolent childhood experiences (BCEs) should be measured in large-scale data collection efforts, such as statewide surveys, alongside more routinely collected adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). We also outline several recommended strategies in which the assessment and screening of positive childhood experiences could be implemented as a counterpart to community health and primary care screening for childhood adversity in adults, with short- and long-term benefits. Pediatric physicians should screen children and adolescents for their current positive childhood experiences as well. The assessment of positive childhood experiences is essential to empirically identifying resilience resources linked with better long-term adaptation, understanding how positive experiences may counteract the long-term effects of childhood adversity in underserved and traumatized individuals, informing medical providers’ knowledge about patients’ strengths in addition to challenges, and instilling hope in individuals and families experiencing stress. (Author abstract)

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