Op-ed references Professor Cannon’s research on adverse childhood experiences

November 15, 2017 - Tamara Williams

Yael Cannon
Professor Yael Cannon co-authored a study showing the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and juvenile delinquency.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez wrote an op-ed for the November 12th issue of the Albuquerque Journal referencing research conducted by Professor Yael Cannon, currently on leave from the law school.

Cannon collaborated on a project to look at the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) nationally and in New Mexico.

Her colleagues were law school alumna Alexandra Bochte, Esq.; Dr. George Davis, Director of Psychiatric Services for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD); and Dr. Andrew Hsi, MD, of the Institute for Health, Resilience, and Justice at the UNM Health Sciences Center.

Their paper, “Adverse Childhood Experiences in the New Mexico Juvenile Justice Population,” sheds light on the role that law and medicine can play in improving outcomes for children with adverse experiences.

In “Securing the city: a broad strategy can improve law enforcement and the legal system,” Torrez discusses some of the ways the District Attorney’s Office is “actively solving problems that have impaired our criminal justice system for decades.”

Torrez said he is also dedicating resources to address “what the data show is one of the most important drivers of crime in this community: early childhood trauma” which include “physical abuse, the incarceration of a parent, and drug addiction in the household are profoundly harmful to developing brains. Left undiagnosed and untreated, these adverse childhood experiences, or ACES, result in high rates of drug addiction, anti-social behavior and an increased risk of contact with the criminal justice system.”

His article states that the research “concluded that the ACEs score for incarcerated kids in Bernalillo County was ‘off the charts’ compared to other communities around the country, with 75 percent of boys and 86 percent of girls reporting five or more traumatic childhood experiences before their incarceration.”

Torrez encourages “other elected officials, business leaders, community groups and concerned citizens to look at the data and do more for traumatized children who need our help today, before they give rise to the public safety crisis of tomorrow.”

Hsi was at the UNM Law School on November 8th talking to students and the community about the effects of ACEs as part of the Social Justice Lunchbox series. Read more about the Social Justice Lunchbox.