Trauma and Youth

Some wise words from Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on trauma.

“Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.” (From TED talk page)

There is a measurement for childhood trauma: the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences). ACE measures the quantity of traumatic experiences of youth. A Florida study found that 50% of incarcerated youth have ACE scores of 4 events (or more). The general population is about 13%.

This means two things:

  • We must have trauma informed teaching with our vulnerable youth populations (ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities)
  • We must have trauma informed practices and buildings when we work with youth who have committed crimes

It is true, what we have been saying. These are not kids with a crime problem. They are kids with a trauma problem.

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