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ACEs: Galano explains costs of a 'national shame'

  • Joseph Galano: The professor holds a copy of his book, The Healthy Families America Initiative, which has helped him be recognized as a pioneer in research related to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

    By David Williard

    Joseph Galano: The professor holds a copy of his book, The Healthy Families America Initiative, which has helped him be recognized as a pioneer in research related to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Joseph Galano presented the case for “upstream” intervention as a research-tested means of preventing “downstream” consequences from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to the national Democratic Caucus in Williamsburg in February.

“I told them that people who had four or more of these adverse childhood experiences … had a 400 percent-to-1,200 percent increase in health risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and suicide-attempts … ,” Galano said. He referred to the fact that there are approximately one million cases of reported abuse and neglect in the United States each year in terms of “national shame” and “epidemic.”  Given those numbers, the long-term costs of non-intervention become staggering, he said.

Galano, associate professor of psychology at the College, is a nationally recognized expert in mitigating long-term effects of ACEs, which include child abuse and neglect, parents with mental illness, substance abuse in the home and abandonment. He has spent the past 15 years as a self-described “preventionist” pioneering “upstream” strategies that feature in-home visitation and counseling. Through The Healthy Families Virginia Initiative, which Galano founded, he has documented a success rate of 80 percent in terms preventing negative outcomes.

In January, he had made the case for proactive prevention in a report to the Virginia General by Healthy Families Virginia. In that document, Galano referred to an increased urgency to adopt proactive measures in the face of the general economic downturn. Galano wrote,  “Research has documented a powerful relationship between increased rates of unemployment and higher rates of child maltreatment. With the unprecedented increase in unemployment that is occurring, Virginia’s children will be the next victims if no action is taken. … ”

To the national legislators, Galano suggested that it was America’s, not just Virginia’s, children who would benefit from home-based-intervention strategies.