Video shows how Walla Walla, WA, high school integrates resilience into school discipline

Washington State’s League of Education Voters (LEV) produced this video about Lincoln High School, the alternative school in Walla Walla, WA, that took a different approach to school discipline and reduced its suspension rate by more than 85% percent over two years. LEV, founded in 2001 by parents, students,

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Massachusetts, Washington State lead U.S. trauma-sensitive school movement

Washington State determined that 13 out of every 30 students in a classroom will have toxic stress from 3 or more traumatic experiences. Those children are likely to be more “unruly”, more “unmotivated” or more absent than the others. Source: Washington State Family Policy Council.

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TRAUMA-SENSITIVE SCHOOLS. TRAUMA-INFORMED classrooms. Compassionate schools. Safe and supportive schools. All different names to describe a movement that’s taking shape and gaining momentum across the country.

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Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%

Jim Sporleder, principal of Lincoln High School

THE FIRST TIME THAT principal Jim Sporleder tried the New Approach to Student Discipline at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, he was blown away. Because it worked.

In fact, it worked so well that he never went back to the Old Approach to Student Discipline.

This is how it went down: A student blows up at a teacher, drops the F-bomb. The usual approach at Lincoln – and, safe to say, at most high schools in this country – is automatic suspension.

Instead, Sporleder sits the kid down and says quietly: “Wow. Are you OK? This doesn’t sound like you. What’s going on?” He gets even more specific: “You really looked stressed. On a scale of 1-10, where are you with your anger?”

The kid was ready. Ready, man! For an anger blast to his face….”How could you do that?” “What’s wrong with you?”…and for the big boot out of school. But he was NOT ready for kindness. The armor-plated Continue reading

Roundup: Autism and obesity? Talking ACEs in Olympia, WA; childhood trauma and lower IQ scores; Catholic clergy child sex abuse cases up 15%

You’ve probably heard about the research in Pediatrics showing that children born to obese mothers are at higher risk of autism. “The study of more than 1,000 children found that the offspring of obese mothers had a 67 percent higher risk of autism than the children of normal-weight moms, and more than double the risk of having developmental delays, such as language impairment,” according to an overview on HealthDay.com. But did you see this important bit of context provided by Bryan Fung on TheAtlantic.com?

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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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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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Spokane, WA, students’ trauma prompts search for solutions

Any experienced teacher will tell you that every class has a few: children who can’t focus, can’t sit still, who fight at the slightest provocation, or perhaps withdraw completely.

These kids are usually labeled as “bad”, “out of control” or “willful”. But brain research has shown that these kids aren’t intentionally bad. Their brains are shorting out from an overload of toxic stress.

Prompted by results from a large study of Spokane, WA, schoolchildren that showed how childhood trauma is taking more of a toll than many imagined, an innovative project is underway that will test three types of intervention in 900 families that participate in Spokane’s Head Start program.

The study of 2,100 children was done in ten elementary schools in Spokane, WA, in late 2010. The study found not only that trauma is common in kids’ lives – trauma includes divorce, homelessness, witnessing family violence, involvement with child protective services, a family member abusing alcohol

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