• Middle school tackles everybody’s trauma; result is calmer, happier kids, teachers and big drop in suspensions

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    John Jimno

    During the 2014/2015 school year, things were looking grim at Park Middle School in Antioch, CA. At the time, staff couldn’t corral student disruptions. Teacher morale was plummeting. By the end of February 2015, 192 kids of the 997 students had been suspended — 19.2 percent of the student population.

    “I was watching really good people burning out from the [teaching] profession and suspending kids over and over and nothing was changing behavior-wise, and teachers were not happy about it,” says John Jimno, who was in his second year as principal at that time.

    So, Jimno and the staff took advantage of a program that Contra Costa County was integrating into its Youth Justice Initiative and, in doing so, joined a national trauma-informed school movement that has seen hundreds of schools across the country essentially replace a “What’s wrong with you?” approach to dealing with kids who are having troubles with asking kids, “What happened to you?”, and then providing them help.

    And, in just two years, by integrating this radically different approach into all parts of the school and rebuilding many of its practices from the inside out, suspensions plummeted more than 50% to just 8.4 percent of the student population in just two years.

    The program that the Park Middle School educators piggybacked on in Fall 2015 was theSanctuary Model, a trauma-informed method for changing organizational culture from one that is toxic to one that is healthy. Jimno and a group of teachers and administrators participated in monthly county-wide “train the trainers” workshops where they learned how to integrate the model into their school; then they trained the rest of their staff. The model, developed by Dr. Sandra Bloom, a psychiatrist and assistant

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  • Early childhood educators learn new ways to spot trauma triggers, build resiliency in preschoolers

    Julie Kurtz, co-director, trauma-informed practices in early childhood education, WestEd Center for Child & Family Studies/photo by Laurie Udesky

    A hug may be comforting to many children, but for a child who has experienced trauma, it may not feel safe.

    That’s an example used by Julie Kurtz, co-director of trauma-informed practices in early childhood education at the WestEd Center for Child & Family Studies (CCFS), as she begins a trauma training session. Her audience, preschool teachers and staff of the San Francisco, CA-based Wu Yee Children’s Services at San Francisco’s Women’s Building, listen attentively.

    Kurtz leads them into a description of how a child’s young brain functions, how young children – regardless of whether they have experienced trauma or not — live in their reptile brain.

    “What’s the job of the reptile brain?” she asks.

    “Survival” comes a response. “Yes, it’s fight, flight or freeze,” she says.

    With guidance from adults, she explains, children’s immature brains develop neurons that build bridges to the rational part of the brain. The rational, executive part of the brain, she continues, is a place of calm, where we can plan, solve problems, and imagine how someone else interacting with us is feeling.

    But if a child is in a state of terror, explains Kurtz, all bets are off. In that state, a child can’t hear what you’re saying or express herself in words, Kurtz says.

    “What’s the strategy to calm a reptile brain?” she asks.

    “It depends on the child…one idea is holding the child,” offers a teacher.

    ”Reassure the child,” suggests another teacher.

    “Bring them to the current time,” another chimes in.

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  • Tonier Cain Deserves an Evidence-Based Apology

    Tonier Cain. Photo: Yi-Chin Lee/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

    Editor’s note: Over 15 years, Tonier Cain was arrested 83 times, and convicted 66 times. She was addicted to crack. She was a prostitute. She had four children and lost them to child protective services. Remarkably, she didn’t give up hope, and one day, she found someone in the system who knew about trauma and who didn’t give up on her. Cain now advocates for trauma-informed care in prisons and mental health facilities. She gives speeches around the country and the world. Cissy White was fortunate to attend a conference in North Carolina where Cain gave a presentation. This is Cissy’s reaction.
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    When Tonier Cain gave a keynote presentation at the Benchmarks’ Partnering for Excellence conference in North Carolina, it took me months to recover from her speech.
    Seriously. It was hard to stand after she spoke. When I did, I went right to a yoga mat in the self-care calm room for a while. I took off my high heels and curled up in a ball for a bit.
    I’m still digesting her words. It’s not that the content was intense and heavy, though it was. It wasn’t that she talked about a ton of traumatic experiences she had survived – though she did.

    It’s not that my own trauma was triggered, though that happened.

    It was the way she spoke about being let down so often by the systems she was often in and how often she was re-traumatized by them.

    It’s the way she challenged my thinking so that I can no longer think about adverse childhood experiences without thinking about all of the ACEs – adverse childhood experiences and adverse community experiences and how intertwined they are.

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  • Oprah learns about ACEs and trauma-informed care

    Oprah on 60 minutes

    Oprah interviews Dr. Bruce Perry

    “Don’t ask ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Ask, ‘What happened to you?'” 

    I watched the Oprah segment with my mother, Dr. Louise Hart, who heard Dr. Vincent Felitti speak about the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study years ago.

    At that time, she asked him, “What is being done with this incredible information?” And he replied, “not much.” It inspired her to come out of retirement and write another parenting book, which turned into The Bullying Antidote. Published in 2013, this was the first book (and still may be the only one) that shows how bullying relates to ACEs—and how parents can prevent it using positive psychology. Bullying—the use of dominance to create harm—is at the root of many of our social ills, and is one of the main vehicles for perpetuating trauma.

    And now, Oprah has learned about ACEs science and how organizations are applying a wide range of ACE-informed approaches, including trauma-informed care. “It blew my mind,” she said. “It changed my life.”

    And when Oprah talks about something, the world gets it.

    Watch the full episode of “Oprah Winfrey discusses childhood trauma on 60 Minutes”, a CBSN video on CBSNews.com. View more CBSN videos and watch CBSN, a live news stream featuring original CBS News reporting.

    Source: Oprah Winfrey discusses childhood trauma on 60 Minutes – CBSN Live Video – CBS News

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