Documentary filmmaker James Redford released the trailer for Paper Tigers, a documentary that follows four teens who attend Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA. Lincoln was the first high school in the country to integrate trauma-informed and resilience-building practices, which resulted in an 85 percent decline in suspensions and a 40% decline in expulsions after the first year. After four years, suspensions had dropped 90 percent, expulsions dropped to zero, and graduation rates increased five-fold.
In Walla Walla, Washington, the journey to implement ACEs research has been akin to a wild ride on a transformer roller coaster that arbitrarily changes its careening turns, mountainous ascents, and hair-raising plunges. And sometimes the ride just screeches to a frustrating halt.
The odyssey began in October 2007, when Teri Barila, Walla Walla County Community Network coordinator, heard Dr. Robert Anda, co-investigator
Lawmakers around the country are beginning to take action to reduce the impact of childhood trauma—and the toxic stress it creates—on lifetime outcomes, particularly in education and health. The legislation being considered in Vermont to integrate screening for childhood trauma in health care, as reported recently on this site, is still percolating in the legislature. Another bill (H. 3528) being considered in Massachusetts seeks to create “safe and supportive schools” statewide. House Resolution 191 — which declares youth violence a public health epidemic and supports the establishment of trauma-informed education statewide — passed in Pennsylvania last spring and was ratified by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) at its annual meeting in August.
Prior to these efforts, the state of Washington passed a bill (H.R. 1965) in 2011 to identify and promote innovative strategies to prevent or reduce adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and to develop a public-private partnership to support effective strategies. In accordance with H.B. 1965, a group of private and public entities formed the Washington State ACEs Public-Private Initiative that is currently evaluating five communities’ ACEs activities. An APPI announcement about the launch of the project
There’s this third-grade kid. Let’s call him Sam. He’s got ODD (oppositional defiant disorder…a misnomer for normal behavior a child exhibits when he’s living with chronic trauma).
Nine-year-old Sam (not his real name) is very smart. But sometimes he balked, dug his heels in deep,
Two kindergarteners at Cherokee Point Elementary School in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood get into a fight on the playground. Their teacher sends them to the principal’s office.
Instead of suspending or expelling the six-year-olds, as happens in many schools, Principal Godwin Higa ushers them to his side of the desk. He sits down so that he can talk with them eye-to-eye and quietly asks: “What happened?” He points to one of the boys. “You go first.”
Dr. Linda Chamberlain lives in Alaska, where suicide rates are “typically double the national rate”, she says in this blog post on the web site of the Scattergood Foundation. She’s the Thomas Scattergood Scholar on Child Behavioral Health this year. As founder of the Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project, she’s concerned about domestic violence and child abuse, which the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study found are risk factors for suicide. She points out how ACEs increase the risk of suicide:
Early adverse childhood experiences [ACEs] dramatically increase the risk of suicidal behaviors. ACEs have a strong, graded relationship to suicide attempts during childhood/adolescent and adulthood. An ACE score of 7 or more increased the risk of suicide attempts 51-fold among children/adolescents and 30-fold among adults (Dube et al, 2001). In fact, Dube and colleagues commented that their estimates of population attributable fractions for ACEs and suicide are “of an order of magnitude that is rarely observed in epidemiology and public health data.” Nearly two-thirds (64%) of suicide attempts among adults were attributable to ACEs and 80% of suicide attempts during childhood/adolescence were attributed to ACEs. Further, while system responses to family violence continue to place greater emphasis on physical forms of abuse, the strongest predictor of future suicide attempts in ACE research was emotional abuse.
Holy Toledo. These numbers are nothing but scary. And tragic.
One of the ways that communities can begin to prevent suicide is to understand adverse childhood