For those who don’t know what the acronym means it’s ‘adverse childhood experiences’. It’s many years now since I first heard the then Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns narrate the importance or rather damage that adverse childhood experiences could cause.
It’s not simply life in a deprived childhood but much deeper, even including pre-natal with stress and harm to the mother impacting down through the generations.
Domestic violence, homelessness, drugs and alcohol, never mind poverty that’s all around and the sadness and despair that’s ever present. Born to fail is the least of it, this is living under constant pressure and in dreadful circumstances.
The Violence Reduction Unit similarly had a hard-hitting short film which showed a vicious knife offence but then tracked back through the albeit young life of the offender. It really was a revelation, with little warmth or joy in that young man’s life and the consequences were reaped by us all.
All that was brought to mind when I read a short novel The Real Glaswegian by Thomas McCrudden, available from austinmacauley.com. I’ve known him for a while and have seen powerful plays at the Edinburgh Festival that he’s written and performed. He’s a man with a past but so has every saint, and he writes from lived experience.
His book’s brutal and raw, yet powerful. Neither a cosy crime fiction novel nor one of the True Crime genre that I despise. This doesn’t seek to glorify violence, but it isn’t for the faint-hearted either. This exposes violence in all its gore and as a way of life sprung from misery and fuelled by adversities. There’s no glory in what’s done, just as there’s no glamour in the lives led.
It’s a short read and, for some, it will be a hard read. But it’ll provide an understanding of why we need to be ACE aware. It’s also a challenge to government as being aware’s one thing, doing something about quite another. Resource and support not just understanding are required.
Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian