In Conversation with Juleus Ghunta About Adverse Childhood Experiences and His Children’s Book Addressing ACEs

Watch the replay of this important discussion.

Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows on Amazon –

Thank you for joining us for this special edition of Caribbean Book Club. We will be chatting with Juleus Ghunta. For those of you who are fans of Caribbean children’s literature, you may know his first book Tata and the Big Bad Bull.

Tata and the Big Bad Bull on Amazon –

In this discussion, we talked about a pretty heavy topic that we in the Socamom community have talked about extensively over the last decade – ACEs or Adverse Childhood Experiences. Everyone has different ways of dealing with them, but our community often tries to handle it with not only humor as we have seen on TikTok, but also by talking about our shared experiences and the similarities that stretch across islands, cultures, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds like we do in the SocaMom Caribbean Cafe on Facebook. Mr. Ghunta and I also discussed the process of writing a book about ACEs and how he hopes that his new book, Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows, will help children and parents move forward and build healthier relationships within their families and communities.

“ACEs refer to intense sources of stress that many children experience, including poverty, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect, community violence, and classism. A person’s ACE score is a simple tally of his/her exposure to each adversity. Unchecked exposure to ACEs often causes radical molecular and genetic defects in victims, including alterations in the structure of their brain and may continue to have negative effects into adulthood. These impairments force abused children to focus their brain resources on survival and threat avoidance to the detriment of the parts of their brain that are usually involved in productive activities such as language development and active learning. ACEs can be gateways to suicide ideation, pseudo-maturity, chronic depression, drug addiction, violence, and other harmful behaviours, and can result in poor health outcomes such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. According to UNICEF, eight out of every ten Jamaican children are subjected to violent discipline at some point. From 2007 to 2015, over 70,000 reports of child maltreatment were made to Jamaica’s National Children’s Registry (NCR), and during this time more than 750 children were killed. Despite these high numbers, only one in ten adults report child abuse.”

Juleus Ghunta and Michael Abrahams: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in Jamaica with Opal Palmer Adisa,” Interviewing the Caribbean Journal, Vol. 5, No. 2, UWI Press, Mar. 2020, Vol. 5, co-edited by Professor Opal Palmer Adisa and Juleus Ghunta

Juleus Ghunta is a Chevening Scholar, children’s writer, a member of Jamaica’s National Task Force on Character Education, and an advocate in the Caribbean’s adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) movement. He holds a BA in Media from The University of the West Indies, Mona, and an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Bradford, UK. Juleus’ work explores the links between toxic stress and academic underachievement, and the varied effects of false positivity and emotional invalidation on the choices and hopes of survivors of complex trauma. His poems and essays on ACEs have appeared in 30+ journals across 16 countries. His picture book Tata and the Big Bad Bull was published by CaribbeanReads in 2018 and he is the co-editor of the December 2019 and March 2020 issues of Interviewing the Caribbean (The UWI Press), which are focused on children’s literature and ACEs in the Caribbean. He is the co-editor of a special issue of PREE Magazine on ACEs and storytelling.
More about Juleus Ghunta on CaribbeanReads –

What’s Your ACE Score Part 1-

What’s Your ACE Score Part 2 –

Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows: A Story about ACEs and HopeRohan Bullkin and the Shadows: A Story about ACEs and Hope by Juleus Ghunta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. The illustrations are wonderful, and I recommend the book to parents and teachers who have reluctant readers. This book will spark their imaginations and show them how reading can stretch their imaginations. I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Ghunta about Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows and ACEs for our Caribbean Book Club, and his story is moving and inspiring –… This book is a must-have for libraries in schools and at home.

View all my reviews