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Holding the ACEs: adverse childhood events in New Zealand

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Glenn Colquhoun
August 2023
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“I live on a beach. It’s wide and stretches. All sorts of things wash up there. Me especially. On a good day I can see Ruapehu, Taranaki, the Tararuas and Kāpiti. The dead wander by, noisy and full of chat. They stop me being scared. The living are another kettle of fish. Next door is a small town. The mayor runs a bookshop. Old guys wear socks and sandals. Kids say, ‘Not even’ ‘Sweet’, ‘Hard’, ‘Matua’, ‘peeps’ and ‘Too much’. There’s a youth health clinic there too. That’s where I work. I am a doctor. Young people tell me their stories. Around the corner there’s a movie theatre and a couple of cafes. Two supermarkets. An adventure park. A commerce of dairies. And somewhere in all of that something awful is going on.” 

In this essay Glenn Colquhoun explores the role adverse childhood events (ACEs) play in the lives of the young people he works with at the Horowhenua Youth Health Service.