New federal guidance should help slow the flow in “school-to-prison pipeline”, but much work remains

AzeroAdvocates for fair and effective school discipline practices received a boost from the federal government with new guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice on January 8.  The guidance instructs schools on how to administer school discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin.  In addition to the guidance, the Administration issued a package of resources to assist in the improvement of school climates and discipline, including key principles and action steps based on best practices and emerging research.

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The “Still Face” video still packs an emotional wallop

When the Washington Post carried a story by Brigid Schulte about the new Institute of Medicine report New Directions In Child Abuse and Neglect Research, Ed Tronick, Ph.D., psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, wrote to her about his research and shared a link to the “Still Face” experiment video. In a recent blog post, Schulte’s reaction to the two-minute video was similar to Jane Stevens’ on this site just about a year ago: It is very hard to watch the infant’s distress build as her mother maintains a “still face” and there is a feeling of deep relief when the young mother returns to her normal expressive self.

While the video packs a wallop, it is still difficult to even begin to fathom the profound impact of child neglect (to say nothing of abuse), according to Schulte. A year ago the video had been viewed over 700,000 times and today that number has risen to well over a million.

Schulte reports that Ed Tronick and others have

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Sexual abuse of nine-year old “Boarding School Boy”: Edward M. Kennedy’s childhood trauma

toughbkIn his book How Children Succeed, Paul Tough mentions that both John and Robert Kennedy attended Riverdale Country School in the Bronx as he introduces the reader to the character initiative of the Riverdale’s headmaster Dominic Randolph. I remembered that Senator Edward M. Kennedy also attended Riverdale and was drawn to re-read the account of his time there in his memoir True Compass. In 1941 when Ted Kennedy was nine

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First Focus’ Children’s Budget 2013 shows less than 8 percent of U.S. budget invested in children

firstfocusFirst Focus‘ recently published report, Children’s Budget 2013, shows a decline in total federal spending on children for three consecutive years and reports that less than 8 percent of the federal budget is invested in children. Current Congressional budget negotiations pose a real threat to sustaining even this low level of federal support, in spite of strong public support for children’s programs.

The analysis by the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization looks at the more than 180 specific federal investments in children, ranging from broad

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Violence Against Women Act flounders, sinks in 112th Congress…

VAWA…and Sen. Patty Murray intends to reintroduce it. Here’s a great analysis of what happened to the legislation — passed in 1994, with the leadership of then-Sen. Joe Biden — and reauthorized without problems until Oct. 2011, “after conservative lawmakers balked at the addition of expanded protections for undocumented immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of sexual assault.” As author Tara Culp-Ressler, an editorial assistant at ThinkProgress, noted on Atlantic.com:

As the legislation hung in the balance this past year, Rep. Gwen Moore went to the House floor to recount the story of her own sexual assault to explain why this country needs VAWA. Moore said that as she watched Republican men begin to stall the reauthorization of the bill, “it brought up some terrible memories for me” of both the

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Pediatrics academy tells baby docs: your new job is to reduce toxic stress

According to research over the last 15 years, there’s no doubt now that child trauma causes toxic stress on the brains of babies and children, which causes short-term harm and long-term health consequences. So, it’s not a big surprise that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement about the issue. What’s significant is the advice to pediatricians: Radically change how you do your job and take new approaches to protect those fragile developing brains.

The report advised pediatricians to:

  • Integrate a psychosocial approach into doing medicine. “Psychosocial problems and the new morbidities should no longer be viewed as categorically different from the causes and consequences of other biologically based health impairments.”
  • Incorporate into medical school and continuing education classes the knowledge of how childhood toxic stress affects “disruptions of the developing nervous, cardiovascular, immune, and metabolic systems, and the evidence that these disruptions can lead to lifelong impairments in learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.” A technical report, in press, will provide more details about this.
  • Take an active leadership role in educating everyone — public, policy makers, educators, etc. — about the long-term consequences of childhood toxic stress.
  • Advocate for “new, evidence-based interventions (regardless of the provider or venue) that reduce sources of toxic stress and/or mitigate their adverse effects on young children.”

ACEs Too High launches!

Labor Day weekend, 2009. Eleven years after the first research paper about the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study came out in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Its co-founders thought that the results rang so clear and true that the medical, public health and social services communities would embrace its findings immediately. So far, it’s been a relative handful of very observant social service experts who work in cultures that embrace change. The medical and public health communities are moving more slowly.

Doesn’t it seem as if the most revolutionary ideas take a very long time to wend their way through our society to

ACE pyramid is study's conceptual framework

Pyramid represents ACE Study concept

adoption and integration? Perhaps it takes so long, because the truly revolutionary ideas ping so many different institutions and cultures.

It’s also four years after I wrote my first article about the ACE Study. “Targeting obesity at its roots: Childhood trauma may be at the core of the epidemic of overweight adults” appeared in the Sacramento Bee’s Sunday Forum section. There’s no link, because only staff-written articles remain in their archives. So, I’ve appended the article to the end of this post.

Thanks to Connie Valentine, founder of the Incest Survivors Speakers Bureau in Davis, CA, for introducing me to Dr. Vincent Felitti, retired chief of Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Preventive Medicine in San Diego and Continue reading

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