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Depicting At Risk Youth
Adverse Childhood Experiences

Emily Osment Headshot
Profile On: Emily Osment, CyberBully

Starting the conversation about childhood experiences like bullying or abuse can be the first step to identifying and resolving the issue. When considering topics like bullying, opening the lines of communication can be life saving. This theme runs true in the televisionmovie, Cyberbully, starring Emily Osment. EIC was able to sit down with Emily to discuss her role as Taylor Hilridge, a teenager suffering from cyberbullying, during the annual PRISM Awards where she was honored for her performance.

Emily described this role as the most difficult she has ever had to play but also one of the most humbling; because it gave her the opportunity to shed light on the issue of bullying.  “[When it comes to Cyberbullying] if you are not involved in it why would you think about it on a daily basis? That’s why it’s so cool to be at the PRISM Awards and put a celebrity spotlight on these kinds of issues.”

If audiences could take away one thing from the film Emily hopes that they will remember to start talking about this issue; parents to kids and kids to parents. “It’s the conversation that helps, the support system. It is knowing that there is always someone there to help. It does not have to be your parents or your teacher it could be your dog. Kids just need to talk, put these issues out there in the open and recognize that this is a problem, there is a solution, and it is going to get better.”

Screen shot 2012-06-22 at 4.41.25 PMAdverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as mental and emotional abuse, sexual abuse, bullying and other forms of mistreatment have been shown to negatively affect a child's health and well-being. The ACE study shows that children who have experienced these types of events are more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse, mental health disorders, and other risky behaviors.

uding these experiences in your work can create a detailed backstory for one of your characters:
  • Consider the very likely possibility that someone who was sexually abused as a child or teenager will relive the experiences as the result of PTSD, which can cause phobias, rage, and strained relationships.
  • Consider showing how signs of physical abuse may be extremely subtle, from recurring small bruises to no physical signs at all. Symptoms can instead manifest as unexplained outrage or fear on the part of a young person toward authority.
  • Adverse childhood experiences often account for serious problems with drug and alcohol, frequent contributors to risk factors for young people. Consider reflecting this reality in story lines and characterizations that show young people at risk.
  • Consider showing how young people today seem to have no escape from bullies, even in their own homes, as computers and the Internet have become necessary tools for homework and recreation.
Assessing Children at Risk: The ACE Study
(Robert F. Anda & Vincent J. Felitti)

ACE Pyramid
The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study uses a scoring system to determine the likelihood a child will engage in risky behavior, like the ones listed below. The ACE Score is determined by totaling up the number of experiences a child has encountered. Oftentimes, these types of behaviors make for dramatic and engaging storytelling.

Which of the following behaviors might show up in your next storyline? 

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Depression

  • Fetal death

  • Health-related quality of life

  • Illicit drug use

  • Ischemic heart disease (IHD)

  • Liver disease
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

  • Smoking

  • Suicide attempts

  • Unintended pregnancies

  • Early initiation of smoking

  • Early initiation of sexual activity

  • Adolescent pregnancy

Adapted from
To learn more about the ACE Study visit

Learn More!
Portions of this newsletter adapted from

Screen shot 2012-06-22 at 4.32.50 PM

Picture This: At Risk Children & Youth

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2012 S.E.T. Awards

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The 16th Annual
PRISM Awards Showcase
September 16, 2012
on FX and other networks.

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Full Airing Schedule is coming soon, check out

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