Oprah Brings Conversation About Adverse Childhood Experiences to National Stage with 60 Minutes Interview

March 12, 2018

"This story has had more impact on me than practically anything I've ever done."

On Sunday, March 11, a national spotlight shined on the growing movement to change the way we help children who have experienced childhood trauma like abuse, neglect, household dysfunction, and community violence. 60 Minutes explored the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, with childhood trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry and advocate and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.


In addition to an interview with Dr. Bruce Perry, this story features coverage of visits two trauma-informed Milwaukee organizations— SaintA and the Nia Imani Family Center. Oprah spent part of her youth in Milwaukee and has spoken candidly about her own childhood trauma.

"Really it boils down to something pretty simple. And it's relationships."

The interview explores how these organizations have adopted a Trauma Informed approach to working with children who are exhibiting symptoms of trauma, emphasizing the shift in mentatlity from asking a child "what happened to you?" before asking "what's wrong with you?"

We're heartened to see the conversation about ACES & childhood trauma reach the national stage. Bright Promises Foundation is working to ensure that anyone and everyone who works with children in Chicagoland, from educators to doctors to crossing guards, are Trauma Informed and we are grateful to Oprah Winfrey & 60 Minutes for shedding light on this critcally important issue. 

This graphic shows the longterm impacts of childhood trauma, which can lead to disrupted development, mental and emotional impairment, and ultimaely early death. More resources available at https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/infographics/the-truth-about-aces.html

How is Bright Promises Foundation Helping Children Who Have Expereinced Trauma?

Since 2012, Bright Promises has been partnering with organizations that serve children who are experiencing trauma. The goal of this program is to educate all adults that interact with children to become trauma-informed and to understand the symptoms of trauma and how to promote protective factors in children. With our partners, we are working so that ultimately children who have experienced trauma feel safe, are able to express themselves, and grow and develop with the same potential as their peers. 

More than half of Illinois children have experienced one or more traumatic experiences which can lead to adverse behaviors, mental illness and many other social, emotional and cognitive impairments. Furthermore, there is a direct correlation between childhood trauma and negative health and behavioral outcomes later in life. The good news is that these negative outcomes can be prevented if the child feels protected and is surrounded by adults that can provide certain coping skills and a positive environment.

Examples of partners who engaged in this initiative include University of Chicago Comer and Stoger Hospitals, UCAN, Erikson Institute, and Voices for Illinois Children. A recent survey of our partners found that 100% of staff that participated in this initiative improved their understanding of childhood trauma and their ability to addressing the impact of trauma on the children and families they serve.

As a part of this initiative, Bright Promises has also partnered with the Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition to create “Look Through Their Eyes,” a website with resources for parents and caregivers that includes a series of PSA videos about childhood trauma. Watch them here.

Watch the full interview here (15 minutes): https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oprah-winfrey-treating-childhood-trauma/