Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Another key issue to student academic success is the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on children and how these life experiences affect their schooling. A new documentary, Resilience, examines how abuse, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences affect children’s development & health outcomes in adulthood. See film details below.
Research links toxic levels of stress and the related chronic stress responses to negative impacts on every aspect of a child’s life; from their physical health, to the development of their brains and social and emotional skills, to their academic performance. The good news is that children can learn resilience and the impact of ACES can be mitigated allowing children to have better health and educational outcomes. At the heart of the resiliency research (upheld by the research findings) is the belief that many students, despite traumatic and toxic stressors in their lives, are able to adapt and thrive. Research shows how we can help traumatized children learn by teaching them resilience, fostering trauma-informed/sensitive learning environments, showing them compassion, providing them with protective relationships, and giving them social and emotional learning skills (SEL). We are showing the film Resilience to help make the public aware of ACEs and how we can all work together to promote resilience in our schools, families, and communities.
Creating trauma-sensitive/trauma-informed school environments is key to cultivating healthy social emotional development (resiliency) in children and their families. This includes both intrapersonal skills by self-regulation, self-reflection, nurturing a sense of self and confidence and interpersonal skills like having safe, stable and nurturing relationships especially within the school setting.
There are many ways to address childhood adverse experiences and provide appropriate social and emotional learning (SEL) programs in an academic setting and they all require providing schools (educators) with the resources and support they need to help traumatized children learn. Despite the enormous barriers cause by traumatic experiences, educators can use trauma-sensitive approaches and help these children become competent leaners. A trauma-sensitive movement requires trained helping professionals, school social workers, school counselors and psychologists, and school nurses, in appropriate numbers at every school. These helping professionals are needed to train all educators on how they can create school cultures that teach resilience and to provide direct services to children including SEL training. In turn, every educator in the school building can help children build resilience moderating the impacts of ACEs giving students a better of graduating school and having a healthy and productive future.
Schools Ill-Equipped to Deal with ACEs
North Carolina’s schools are ill-equipped to deal with consequences of kids’ ACEs. Many school districts lack trauma-informed programs and policies including how they train their School Resource Officers (SROs). Inexperienced staff may act to push children out of school through various short-and-long-term disciplinary measures.
Most critically, our schools need more support personnel; nurses, social workers, counselors and child psychologists, to help kids and teachers cope with ACEs if we want our children to lead healthier, more productive lives. Currently, our public schools are woefully understaffed to meet the needs of our trauma-impacted children and NC needs a Social Work Director position at the Department of Public Instruction to help coordinate and provide support to efforts across all school districts (what experts recommend). Not serving our children while they are in school creates generations for adults who are unprepared for successful lives.
About the Film
Resilience is a 60-minute documentary that delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and a new movement to treat and prevent toxic stress.
“Researchers have recently discovered a dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood. As the new documentary Resilience reveals, TOXIC STRESS can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time and early death. While the broader impacts of poverty worsen the risk, no segment of society is immune. Resilience, however, also chronicles the dawn of a movement that is determined to fight back. Trailblazers in pediatrics, education and social welfare are using cutting-edge science and field-tested therapies to protect children from the insidious effects of toxic stress—and the dark legacy of a childhood “ KPRJ Films
You can view a clip of the film here.
There are other resources available on the KPJR website.
Children across North Carolina suffer Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) in various forms of abuse and neglect. The trauma of ACEs can cause children to develop toxic stress, where they’re affected not just emotionally but psychologically and biologically. Toxic stress is associated with everything from misbehavior at school to heart disease; it can literally shorten the lives of the kids who suffer from it.
Research shows ACEs are common, they affect all income levels, and their impact on health and well-being is significant. “The child may not remember, but the body remembers.” This powerful movie is a conversation-starter and a perspective-changer.
However, adults (parents and teachers) can help children with toxic stress, not by erasing their trauma but by helping children develop resilience! This learned skill set can act within a child as a buffer for the ACEs they have endured. Resilience is the capacity that allows kids to cope with their imperfect situations and to move on with confidence and optimism.
Schools have a critical role to play in promoting the great childhoods that children deserve. But this takes trained and attentive school personnel. The first step is awareness which is why Public Schools First NC is sponsoring free screenings of this film.
One great takeaway from Resilience is that there is always hope! Science shows the effects of ACEs do not have to be permanent. The film highlights how parents, educators, and communities working together can build resilience in kids to overcome the impact of ACEs.
(This film is intended for an adult audience.)
View our fact sheet to learn more about Resilience and how ACEs affect NC schools and schedule your screening today!
Schedule a Screening
If you want to schedule a screening for your church or synagogue, your civic group or PTA, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is some additional information on ACEs for your use.
See the Resilience Resources page for a complete list of references.
Other Film Resources
You may also want to schedule a screening of these related films.
This film follows a year in the life of an alternative high school (Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, Washington) that has radically changed its approach to disciplining its students, becoming a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease that affect families. Students at this high school had poor academic performances along with behavior problems that often lead to school suspensions. The “new science” referred to by the producers in this description of their film is the findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, known as the ACE Study. The staff learned about the ACE Study on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and started considering how traumatic the students’ lives at home where many were experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Staff changed its approach to in-school suspension and other kinder approaches instead of automatically using punitive punishments. Paper Tigers provides insight into how teacher and others, such as family members and parents, can help children experiencing the negative impacts of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences).
Sixty years after the Little Rock Nine faced resistance when desegregating Central High in Arkansas, America’s schools continue to represent the key battleground of the Civil Rights Movement. TEACH US ALL demonstrates powerful lessons from history within a timely context, emphasizing the need for unity and collective action to rectify the disparities among America’s children. Watch the trailer and visit the Facebook page for more information.