Minnesota has the potential to become a trauma-informed state if the hard work is done to raise awareness of ACEs and the impact of toxic stress on brain development, says third-term state representative Rena Moran (D-St. Paul). Moran led the effort to have a resolution—similar to ones passed in Wisconsin and California—read in the legislature in March to educate lawmakers and the public about ACEs and related research. Democrats and Republicans took turns reading the resolution.
According to Moran, there was insufficient bi-partisan support to hold a hearing and take a specific vote on legislation. Several of the legislators who opposed a full hearing on the issue of childhood trauma revealed privately to Moran their own experiences of childhood abuse.
After the “whereas” section of the resolution addressing the impact of toxic stress on brains and the prevalence of ACEs among state residents, the final statement reads that the House of Representatives of the State of Minnesota resolves “that the principles of brain development, the connection between mental and physical health, the concepts of toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences, buffering relationships, in the roles of early intervention and investment in children are important strategies for the well-being of all Minnesota children.”
Moran believes that punitive policies that negatively impact children, especially those in communities of color, must be eliminated. The policies that are ripe for change are those that relate to school discipline and result in inappropriate placements in special education and feed the school-to-prison pipeline.