THE TRAUMA INFORMED SCHOOL
A Trauma-Informed model is a paradigm shift. Policies for zero tolerance create punitive cultures which perpetuate negative behavior. In a trauma-informed model, students are taught how to regulate their emotions as part of the curriculum. Negative behavior is seen as a learning opportunity with space provided to reteach a response while giving consequences for negative choices and recognition for positive. Additionally, students are taught how long-term stress impacts their health, along with the skills needed to overcome the effects of that stress. Until a child learns how to regulate their emotions, they cannot learn. Their brains are wired for fear first.
ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experience. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states "Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)". From years of research, a study was developed that gives a score for the quantity of ACEs. If a child, 0-18, has an ACE score of 6 or more, the CDC notes a 20 year drop in life expectancy. This is a bleak number. However, we have hope.
Current literature focuses heavily on preventing ACEs. Unfortunately, a significant amount of our student population has already experienced ACE scores of more than four. Therefore, we need to teach our students how to self-regulate and how to be resilient, all while pointing to Christ as our Hope. Hope and resilience beat ACEs. We firmly believe this after seeing positive changes in our students who have learned these tools.
In a healthy home, a child will naturally experience toxic stress. However, the physiological effects of stress are naturally buffered by a stable adult and a healthy response to stress is developed. In an unhealthy home, with ACEs occurring, the child is not given the opportunity to learn healthy responses. The stable adult is absent. The results are lifelong unhealthy responses to even small amounts of stress. A Trauma-Informed school takes into account what this stress does in the brain and focuses on reteaching learned response.
Many times, the effects of multiple, traumatic events mimic characteristics of ADHD, Autism, or Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD). Research shows that teaching a child how to self-regulate can help offset these behaviors. Autism resources such as weighted blankets, stress balls, noise reducers and zones of regulation charts can help students learn to regulate their emotions.
We teach tools to overcome your trauma.
NADINE BURKE HARRIS
Nadine Burke Harris has written an eye-opening book revealing the impact of ACE scores on the patients she sees as a San Francisco pediatrician. The insight and interventions she discusses have impacted the way we view education at Rising Hope Academy. For a quick insight, view Dr. Harris's Ted Talk here.
ACE STUDY SCORE
These are the top ten ACE's from the ACE study. The score is taken based off of these experiences from birth to 18 years of age. An ACE score of 6 is predicted to take 20 years off of your life expectancy with no intervention. Thankfully, we have Hope and tools to teach resiliency to overcome these scores.
ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES:
Loss of a Parent
Witnessing Family Violence
Incarceration of a Family Member
Having a Mentally Ill Parent
Living with an Addicted Parent
ACES CAN HAVE LASTING EFFECTS ON:
HEALTH - Obesity, diabetes, depression, suicide attempts, STDs, heart disease, cancer, stroke, COPD, broken bones
BEHAVIORS - Smoking, alcoholism, drug use
LIFE POTENTIAL - Graduation rates, academic achievement, lost time from work
CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL
ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. The Center for Disease Control, whose model you see above, classifies high ACE scores as a public health concern. For more information, visit their website here.