Don't forget ACEs

I read with interest Dr. Suzanne Bennett Johnson's comments ("President's Column," April Monitor) about the obesity epidemic in the United States and the far-reaching medical and economic impact of this major health concern.

I was also heartened to see the article in the same April issue about the importance of treatment interventions for childhood trauma, and the mention of the ACE studies (ongoing CDC study about adverse childhood experiences) in this article. However, I was a bit disappointed that neither Dr. Johnson's well-written article, nor the article about trauma intervention mentioned ACE as a factor in the development of obesity. The ACE studies strongly support this correlation, and it was interesting that obesity was left out of the list of increased psychological and physiological consequences related to adverse childhood experiences in the trauma article. A recent study by Burke, et. al., in the June 2011 issue of Child Abuse and Neglect, found that children with ACE scores of four or more were significantly more likely to suffer from learning and behavioral problems as well as obesity.

I would like to have seen the Monitor do a better job of "connecting the dots" regarding the impact of adverse childhood experiences.

Sally Sexton, PsyD
Scottsbluff, Neb.

Fourth Amendment rights

Regarding the "Judicial Notebook" column in the May Monitor, it is not for psychological research to influence constitutional interpretations. The Constitution is our foundational law, which tells the government what it cannot do — in this case, unreasonable searches. This is a legal issue of what constitutes an unreasonable search, not an issue of people's expectation of privacy. As we know, people's opinions can change from generation to generation, while the Constitution needs to remain the same. We also know that people's expectations often do not fit reality; in a matter of constitutional law, the justices need to weigh the facts of the case, not how an individual perceives the world. Personal embarrassment should not be the concern of psychologists, but whether or not the government is constrained to a proper level by the Fourth Amendment. If embarrassment were the basis of the decision, then no person could be tried for a crime because it would be embarrassing to them. If all psychological research can do is inform the court of fluid public opinions and expectations, then it should stay away.

Jonathan Zappala
Catholic University of America student

Please send letters to Sara Martin, Monitor  Editor. Letters should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for space and clarity.