Port Townsend, WA, learns that to change health culture, it takes a community

Nate (l) and Nico Winegar play with pinwheels that symbolize Port Townsend’s “Our Kids: Our Business” campaign

Last week, I posted a story about how a family services clinic in Port Townsend, WA, includes childhood trauma in regular health screenings for pregnant women and families. They’re doing this because the research is very clear: Toxic stress from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) causes adult onset of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. It causes suicide and depression. It also leads to committing violence or becoming victim of violence.

The purpose is to reduce toxic stress in children, so that they grow up to be healthier and happier.

As far as the staff at Jefferson County Public Health knows, they are the first in the country to figure out a way to integrate into their daily work the research

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Roundup: Fast-tracking family violence cases pays off; women on probation, parole have more mental illness; stressing an old brain affects memory

A man who stabbed his girlfriend 12 times in February pled guilty to attempted murder yesterday, a little more than a month after the assault. The case was part of a project to fast-track family violence cases in Minneapolis area, according to this interesting report by David Chanen on StarTribune.com.

The Anoka County project, which started in September, already has dealt with 75 serious “intimate partner” domestic assault cases. Because prosecutors can assure victims that their case is on a fast track for trial, victims recant less and make fewer requests to modify or drop no-contact orders, county officials say. Victims quickly become comfortable with the legal process because the county offers a variety of social services, including counseling or chemical dependency treatment for the offender.

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Roundup: Pittsburgh community leader sees poverty thru public-health lens; WA community celebrates Nat’l Child Abuse Prevention Month with dozens of events; should the media have shown Jason Russell’s breakdown?

Rashad Byrdsong, the founder of Community Empowerment Association, a nonprofit community development organization in Pittsburgh, thinks that poverty needs to be addressed through a public-health lens, according to this post by Tom Zeller Jr. on Huffington Post. Although using a public-health approach in addition to, or instead of, incorporating an economic or social approach is being used by many communities, Byrdsong says it’s time to look at all issues through a public-health lens.

“All the things we talk about when we talk about poverty constitute negative health outcomes in

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Roundup: Emotional trauma is root of addiction; NH attorney general says pass Violence Against Women Act

Another study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research last week, is another in a long list of research that links childhood trauma to addiction, says psychiatrist David Sack. In his blog on PsychCentral.com, Sack says that therapists who are treating addiction should also treat a person’s trauma. He cites the CDC’s ACE Study, and the finding that “chronic recurrent humiliation” — emotional abuse — is one of the most destructive forms of trauma.

Whereas the general population has physical abuse rates of 8.4 percent, the rate for alcoholics has been reported at 24 percent for men and 33 percent for women. The rate of sexual abuse in the general population hovers around 6 percent, while the rate for alcoholics has been reported at 12 percent for men and 49 percent for women.

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Roundup: Pauley Perrette’s song about family violence; MA working to end time limits on child sex abuse prosecutions; series addresses child abuse in Missouri

FANS OF NCIS — Pauley Perrette, who plays forensic scientist Abby Sciuto, has written “Noise”, a song about family violence. She posted it last week on her Twitter account @PauleyP. Here’s the first verse:

As a kid I hid
No hit was harder
Than disapproval
The removal of self
That to not exist
was the only way
To try to be perfect
He would Yell She would Cry
He would yell She would Cry
He would Yell She would Cry
He would yell She would Cry

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Public health clinic adds child trauma to smoking, alcohol, HIV screening

When a pregnant woman visits the Jefferson County Public Health clinic in Port Townsend, WA, a town of about 9,000 people on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula, she’s asked the typical questions about tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. She’s also screened for something that most public heath departments, ob-gyns or primary care providers don’t even consider asking: her childhood trauma.

That’s because the public health nurses at Family Health Services know that a childhood full of toxic stress causes a lifetime of health problems, and, if not addressed, is usually passed on from parent to child.

But setting up a system to screen for child trauma, which seems so logical in hindsight, wasn’t an easy thing to do, says Quen Zorrah, a public health nurse who led the effort. Even after years of talking, reading research and preparation, the staff was still reluctant. But in the end, she and her co-workers concluded: If we can teach a client to put on a condom, we can ask a client about ACEs.

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Roundup: Penn State offering free counseling to sex-abuse victims; more child-abuse prevention services in WI town; GA law eliminates “spousal privilege” in DV cases

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (Associated Press photo)

The Associated Press reported that Penn State has contracted with Praesidium Inc., based in Arlington, TX, which is described as an abuse risk management company.

The services are confidential and will be provided by counselors from outside Penn State; the phone number and email address to reach Praesidium in connection with the Penn State case was activated Wednesday. It was not known how much the counseling service will eventually cost the university.

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