Why We Should Care About Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adults often talk about resiliency in terms of how children ‘bounce back’ from adverse experiences but what about the impact from the latest shockwaves of families being ripped apart and parents deported. Put politics aside ~ please ~ I’m referring to the effect trauma has on schools and communities. This type of trauma, which American schools have not had to grapple with since World War II and the Vietnam War will hit our schools in less than two months. How prepared are teachers, related service personnel, principals, and other staff? Will they understand how trauma impacts sleeping, eating, learning, behavior, health and wellbeing? Will parents recognize how it can affect their child, when their daughter or son’s classmate is there one day and gone the next? 

Collectively we need to think this through since schools are the microcosms of communities. Teacher preparation programs don’t require classes focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and the types of screeners and strategies that can be implemented to help the adult support the child. Thus, districts need to invest in their staff and families by partnering with mental health agencies and other professional organizations to develop these vital skills. This will not only benefit the school climate but such partnerships will teach the adult competencies so they in turn can recognize and support children and each other. 

Implementing trauma- informed approaches in schools supports the whole child and the whole system which can lead to better outcomes for children, reduce discipline, and connect what schools do with the larger community. Now that’s resiliency.