PBS documentary — “Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation”

“Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation” is a documentary series planned to run on PBS later this year. It’s being screened around the country now. The documentary explores how a strong start for our children can lead to a healthier, stronger, and more equitable America. The project grew out of an earlier award-winning documentary about inequality made by the same organization, California Newsreel, the oldest documentary production and distribution nonprofit in the U.S., along with Vital Pictures in Boston.

Of particular interest to the community of people who are interested in adverse childhood experiences is the fourth episode,  “Wounded Places: Confronting PTSD in America’s Shell-Shocked Cities.” The 42-minute documentary can be streamed from the Raising of America site. Earlier episodes are available there as well. “Wounded Places” details the effects of childhood trauma on later life and shows how healing can take place in communities throughout the nation.

Here’s the description of “Wounded Places”:

Wounded Places travels to Philadelphia and Oakland where a long history of disinvestment and racial exclusion have ravaged entire neighborhoods and exposed children to multiple adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs). We meet families and some remarkable young people who have been traumatized not just by shootings, but fear, uncertainty and a sense of futurelessness.

As Stanford physician Victor Carrion explains, “If we are crossing the street and we see that a truck is coming at us, we can manage that situation, get scared, jump, and move quickly. Unfortunately, many children in our society feel like a truck is coming at them all day long, for more days than not, and this really takes a toll.”

We watch as Caheri Gutiérrez, Antonio Carter, Javier Arango and other young people wrestle with their hyper-vigilance, sudden rages, nightmares, inability to trust and difficulty concentrating in school. Now they themselves are counseling others, helping them to “own” their trauma. Yet police, teachers, the media, and even social service workers too often make things worse, pegging traumatized children not as injured and in need of healing but as “bad” or “impaired.”

Screenings of “Raising of America” are being held around the country. On the documentary’s site, you can also request a screening in your community.

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