California Legislature—2013–14 Regular Session

Assembly Concurrent ResolutionNo. 155

Introduced by Assembly Member Bocanegra

(Coauthors: Assembly Members Bonta, Bradford, Buchanan, and Ian Calderon)

May 28, 2014

Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 155—Relative to childhood brain development.


ACR 155, as introduced, Bocanegra. Childhood brain development: adverse experiences: toxic stress.

This measure would urge the Governor to identify evidence-based solutions to reduce children’s exposure to adverse childhood experiences, address the impacts of those experiences, and invest in preventive health care and mental health and wellness interventions.

Fiscal committee: no.

P1    1WHEREAS, Research over the last two decades in the evolving
2fields of neuroscience, molecular biology, public health, genomics,
3and epigenetics reveals that experiences in the first few years of
4life build changes into the biology of the human body that, in turn,
5influence the person’s physical and mental health over his or her
6lifetime; and

7WHEREAS, Adverse childhood experiences are traumatic
8experiences that occur during childhood, including physical,
9emotional or sexual abuse, physical and emotional neglect,
10household dysfunction, including substance abuse, untreated mental
11illness or incarceration of a household member, domestic violence,
P2    1or separation or divorce involving household members, that can
2have a profound effect on a child’s developing brain and body and
3can result in poor health during the person’s adulthood; and

4WHEREAS, The original 1998 Adverse Childhood Experiences
5Study, which surveyed approximately 17,000 adult Californians,
6found that two-thirds of participants had at least one adverse
7childhood experience and one in six participants had four or more
8adverse childhood experiences; and

9WHEREAS, The Adverse Childhood Experience Study also
10found a strong correlation between the number of adverse
11childhood experiences and a person’s risk for disease and negative
12health behaviors; and

13WHEREAS, Researchers found that a person with four or more
14adverse childhood experiences was 2.4 times more likely to have
15a stroke, 2.2 times more likely to have ischemic heart disease, 2
16times more likely to have chronic pulmonary obstructive disease,
171.9 times more likely to have a type of cancer, and 1.6 times more
18likely to have diabetes; and

19WHEREAS, Researchers found that a person with four or more
20adverse childhood experiences was 12.2 times more likely to
21attempt suicide, 10.3 times more likely to use injection drugs, and
227.4 times more likely to be an alcoholic; and

23WHEREAS, The life expectancy of a person with six or more
24adverse childhood experiences is 20 years shorter than a person
25with no adverse childhood experiences; and

26WHEREAS, These early adverse experiences literally shape the
27physical architecture of a child’s developing brain and establish
28either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all the learning, health,
29and behavior that follow; and

30WHEREAS, Strong, frequent, or prolonged stress in childhood
31caused by adverse childhood experiences can become toxic stress,
32impacting the development of a child’s fundamental brain
33architecture and stress response systems; and

34WHEREAS, Early childhood offers a unique window of
35opportunity to prevent and heal the impacts of adverse childhood
36experiences and toxic stress on a child’s brain and body; and

37WHEREAS, A child’s brain continues to develop through
38adolescence and into young adulthood; and

39WHEREAS, The emerging science and research on toxic stress
40and adverse childhood experiences evidence a growing public
P3    1health crisis for the state with implications for the state’s
2educational, juvenile justice, criminal justice, and public health
3systems; and

4WHEREAS, Adverse childhood experiences can significantly
5impact a child’s success in education; and

6WHEREAS, The Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI)
7found that neurobiological, epigenetics, and psychological studies
8have shown that traumatic experiences in childhood and
9adolescence can diminish concentration, memory, and the
10organizational and language abilities students need to succeed in
11school, thereby negatively impacting a student’s academic
12performance, classroom behavior, and the ability to form
13relationships; and

14WHEREAS, A child with four or more adverse childhood
15experiences is 46 times more likely to have learning or emotional
16problems; and

17WHEREAS, A woman with seven or more adverse childhood
18experiences is 5.5 times more likely to become pregnant as a
19teenager; and

20WHEREAS, Adverse childhood experiences can affect a child’s
21future contact with the criminal justice system; and

22WHEREAS, A woman with three violent adverse childhood
23experiences is 3.5 times more likely to become the victim of
24intimate partner violence, while a man with three violent adverse
25childhood experiences is 3.8 times more likely to perpetrate
26intimate partner violence; and

27WHEREAS, A critical factor in buffering children from the
28effects of toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences is the
29existence of supportive, stable relationships between children and
30their families, caregivers, and other important adults in their lives;

32WHEREAS, Positively influencing the architecture of a child’s
33developing brain is more effective and less costly than attempting
34to correct poor learning, health, and behaviors later in life; now,
35therefore, be it

36Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate
37thereof concurring,
That the Legislature urges the Governor to
38reduce children’s exposure to adverse childhood experiences,
39address the impacts of those experiences, and invest in preventive
P4    1health care and mental health and wellness interventions; and be
2it further

3Resolved, That the Legislature urges the Governor of California,
4in doing the foregoing, to consider the principles of brain
5development, the intimate connection between mental and physical
6health, the concepts of toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences,
7buffering relationships, and the roles of early intervention and
8investment in children as important strategies; and be it further

9Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies
10of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.