The growing interest in ACEs and trauma-informed practices

ACEStates2013

So much is happening in events, reports, research and news about adverse childhood experiences and trauma informed practices that it’s hard to keep up. But here are a few notable results:

  • According to Dr. Robert Anda, one of the co-founders of the CDC’s ACE Study, 21 states have done or are completing their own ACE surveys.
  • At last month’s National ACEs Summit in Philadelphia, PA, two unifying themes emerged: to be successful in preventing childhood trauma and to stop further traumatizing children and adults who are already traumatized, people have to work across professional silos and systems, and the changes have to occur at the community level. In other words — this ain’t a top-down endeavor. Martha Davis, executive director of the Institute for Safe Families, which hosted the summit, wrote up six interesting short overviews of the presentations. She and Kristin Schubert of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which sponsored the summit, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer this week.
  • At that same meeting, ISFS released an ACE survey of Philadelphia – the first of a major U.S. city. The results were grim:  37.3% of adults experienced 4 or more ACEs — three times higher than the 12.5% in the CDC’s ACE Study. That works out to 432,100 people. This substantially increases their risk of long-term health effects. But, as to the city’s resilience factors, the results were also hopeful: 85% felt the “neighborhoods in which they grew up in were safe”, 77.5% thought their “neighbors looked out, supported, and trusted each other”, and 92.3% said that “someone made them feel special while growing up”.
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The painful side of compassion emerges when we can’t help a student

[Editor's note: In April, I posted a story about how Lincoln High School reduced its suspensions 85% by using a new method of school discipline. So many people were intrigued by how Lincoln High works that we thought you might be interested in these essays by Lincoln's staff and students.]  

By Jim Sporleder
Principal, Lincoln High School

When you’re working with students that have high ACE scores, not every story is successful. You’re going to experience pain, just as you’re going to experience joy.

Stacy (not her real name) came to Lincoln High when she was a freshman. Because of a learning disability and her mental health, she was identified as a special education student. Somehow she missed acquiring that designation when she was in elementary and middle school. It’s unfortunate, because she had very special needs.

Stacy is a cutter. When she is upset, she cuts her wrists and arms. She’s been doing this for a long time: both arms have dozens of scars. Her parents swing between horrific verbal abuse and emotional neglect. They ignore her cutting or criticize her for trying to get attention.

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Don’t forget calm, quiet students — they may be hurting as much as those who rage

[Editor's note: In April, I posted a story about how Lincoln High School reduced its suspensions 85% by using a new method of school discipline. So many people were intrigued by how Lincoln High works that we thought you might be interested in a series of essays by Lincoln's staff and students. This is the third in that series.]  

Dakota Johnson (l) with Lincoln High teacher Natalie Allen.

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By Natalie Allen
Teacher, Lincoln High School

Dakota Johnson started at Lincoln in March 2011 as a junior. He walked in displaying a very calm demeanor: He was polite, soft spoken — an extremely

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Patience, not punishment, turns angry student into happy teen

[Editor's note: In April, I posted a story about how Lincoln High School reduced its suspensions 85% by using a new method of school discipline. So many people were intrigued by how Lincoln High works that we thought you might be interested in these essays by Lincoln's staff and students.]  

The choirs of Lincoln High School and Park Plaza Retirement Community rehearse together.

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By Jim Sporleder
Principal, Lincoln High School

How do we create an environment that allows students with high toxic stress the same opportunity to learn and grow as students that aren’t experiencing difficult times in their lives?

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