Public Schools First NC is bringing you this film because we believe that our public schools have a critical role to play in building resilience to face Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
Already familiar with this subject? Jump to our screening schedule and resources at the bottom of this page.
Education, pediatric, and social welfare experts believe that if we want better education and health outcomes for kids (and communities) we must have helping professionals in our schools – social workers, counselors, child psychologists, and nurses – to mitigate and provide buffers to our children in dealing with effects of ACEs. These professionals can provide services children need to navigate the ACEs they experience as well as prevent some children’s stress from becoming toxic by teaching resilience skills early. ACE scores are based on a short questionnaire about childhood experiences.
School counselors, social workers, and child pyschologists who are trained to intervene early with children experiencing toxic stress can also work with parents. Teachers can be trained to show empathy in their interactions with children experiencing ACEs. Teachers can learn to move from: “What’s wrong with this student?” to “What happened to this student? And how can I help fix it?”
Research shows the presence of compassionate teachers, coaches or other adults in the schools can help students build resilience and reach their academic potential. We need support professionals trained to deal with ACEs in our schools, and they must have reasonable caseloads to implement strategies that remove barriers to our children’s academic success and overall well-being. Trauma affects learning and school performance, and causes physical and emotional distress. Trauma sensitive school personnel help children feel safe to learn.
This is public health information that everybody in the country needs to understand. Toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children.
There is a health crisis affecting our nation’s children and you can help them. Toxic stress is the chronic activation of physiological stress responses when people are forced to cope with adverse experiences without support. Toxic stress has been proven to shorten lives, worsen social problems, and waste money and talent. It is related to everything from substance abuse to heart disease, diabetes, and even early death.
But together we can help children build the resilience they need to cope with ACEs, the source of their toxic stress. ACEs include all types of abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences that occur to before the age of 18. A study examined the relationship between these childhood experiences and reduced health and well- being later in life. The research showed that:
- childhood trauma is very common, even in employed white middle-class, college- educated people with great health insurance;
- there is a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as depression, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence;
- more types of trauma increase the risk of health, social and emotional problems;
- children usually experience more than one type of trauma – rarely is it only sex abuse or only verbal abuse.
What is resilience? Resilience is the ability to thrive, adapt and cope despite the impact of stressful events. The more resilient children are, the more likely they can deal with negative events in a healthy way. Resilience is not something that people are born with, it is a skill that can be taught, learned and practiced. How does a child build resilience? The presence of a caring, stable adult and being raised in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment are two critical factors to build resilience.
“Resilience buffers the effects of ACEs, leading to better outcomes for kids and communities. We all have a role to play in promoting the great childhoods that children deserve.”
Researchers from the CDC and other institutions have developed and tested strategies for mitigating toxic stress by helping children build resilience. Although no segment of society is free from the abuse and neglect that cause toxic stress, poverty worsens the
effects and is, in fact, an ACE itself. Helping children develop strategies that mitigate their toxic stress is imperative for schools. Children who are suffering, whose nervous systems operate as though they are under siege, cannot be successful in the classroom. Schools with large concentrations of kids with toxic stress (like poverty) cannot be fairly compared with highly advantaged schools. Kids whose schools are crumbling, or are in the news for “failing,” or that offer only tattered books and scant supplies worsen stress for kids, when they should be a refuge. We now know there are ways to promote resilience in kids to improve their lives and their schools.
Contact us if you’re interested in sharing this film with your community! Resilience: The Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope offers the information you need to help create a brighter future, at school and in life, for our kids. We want everyone to have this information and use it to take action. Together, we can create solutions that are right for our schools. We cannot summon a world where children do not suffer ACEs, but we can empower them to develop resilience. We can change the toxic stress that changes their bodies’ chemistry and impedes their neurological development. We can advocate for schools that support them rather than worsen their stress. Science shows the effects of ACEs do not have to be permanent. We can come together and make a difference in the lives of trauma-impacted children. We can achieve another aspect of education justice.
We hope that you’ll schedule a screening and join in the discussion so that you’re prepared to amplify the good news about resilience, the science of hope!
- November 28, Wednesday, 7:30 PM to 9PM, Hunt Library-NCSU, 1070 Partners Way, Raleigh, NC 27606
- January 25, Thursday, 6PM-8PM, Whitted Human Services Building, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278
ACEs Connection is a social network that accelerates the global movement toward recognizing the impact of adverse childhood experiences in shaping adult behavior and health. A major goal is the reforming of all communities and institutions – including schools, prisons, hospitals and churches – to help heal and build resilience rather than to continue to traumatize already traumatized people.
The CSSP has developed Strengthening Families™ as a research-informed approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. It is based on engaging families, programs and communities in building five protective factors.
Connections Matter promotes caring connections as the foundation for developing healthy brains, supportive relationships and strong communities. Website and Awareness toolkit with curriculum by Dr. Linda Chamberlain.
October 2017 fact sheet with the latest data on US kids and ACEs.
ACEs and Education
- Understanding and Responding to ACEs in the School Setting
- ACEs for Educators and Stakeholders
- Finding your ACEs Score,
- Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina ACE Study
- The Buncombe ACE Collaborative
- The NC Public School Forum Committee on Trauma & Learning: Action Plan and Recommendations