When a child is repeatedly acting out in class, unable to pay attention or skipping school, teachers and parents might ask “What is the matter with him?”
But there is a different question researchers of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) say educators and parents should ask instead: “What happened to him?”
ACEs are traumatic events that can dramatically upset a child’s sense of safety and well-being, such as child abuse, child neglect, and household dysfunction, among many others. It could also include things like bullying and childhood injuries. The life-long impacts of childhood trauma are staggering: ACEs have been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential (graduation rates, lost time from work), and early death.
How we as caregivers can help prevent trauma and build resiliency in the child was the topic of a May 18th workshop at the UI College of Public Health. Around 150 researchers and practitioners attended the “Resiliency Triumphs Over Trauma” workshop, which was co-sponsored by 10 institutions and organizations including the UI Children’s Hospital and the UI Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC). IPRC Director Dr. Corinne Peek-Asa and Associate Director for Science Dr. Marizen Ramirez presented on community engagement and program development in healthcare and schools.
Trauma Informed Care (TIC) is a more comprehensive and holistic approach that shifts the way we view trauma. It is an approach that activists in the Iowa ACEs community would like implemented in communities in the state.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “A program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery; recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system; and responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices, and seeks to actively resist re- traumatization.”