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February 2015

A Bold Young Artist Learns to Lessen the Grip of His Past Through Sculpture

  • HAC-Pegasus-webGerardo Hacer was raised in a series of foster homes from the time he was three months old. He grew into a life of violence and drug abuse, finding escape by creating a playful world in origami shapes. As his interest in art grew he decided he wanted to be a sculptor. He realized a valuable insight for many children raised in foster care, “I am not what happened to me, I am my response.” Now he is a renowned artist with shows throughout the United States and several works of large, public sculpture, including “Education Gives You Wings to Fly” at the Los Angeles Trade Tech College, a two-ton, 14 foot steel origami sculpture, pictured here. Click here to watch a short video of Hacer and here to see more of his sculpture.

Disruptive Children Benefit from Tailored Classroom Intervention

  • Group of Elementary Pupils In ClassroomA new study examines the use of a program for students in kindergarten and first grade who demonstrate what are termed “high maintenance temperaments” – high physical activity, low on-task ability, and highly reactive responsiveness. INSIGHTS helps teachers and parents match environmental demands to a child’s nature. The program provides a framework for appreciating and supporting differences in the personalities of children, rather than trying to change them. Warm and supportive teacher-child relationships in early elementary school are associated with fewer problem behaviors and greater classroom engagement.
    Source: Science Daily/New York University

The Hidden Impact of Trauma 

  • Three psychology professors from Northeastern University in Boston are researching the way the architecture and neuro-chemicals in the brain can change behavioral responses. Topics in this article from the Winter 2014 issue of Northeastern Magazine include: the link among brain development, inflammation, and the immune system; how steroid use among teens may damage the serotonin system that is essential to controlling anxiety; and why women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

‘Dual Status’ Kids Endure Another Kind of Double Jeopardy

  • High School Teacher Reprimanding a StudentNewton County Juvenile Court in Covington, Georgia is one of a handful in the nation experimenting with alternative sentencing options for juveniles who are considered “dual-status” – in foster care and involved with the juvenile justice system. Historically, there has been a lack of understanding about the developmental aspects of delinquent behavior. A new initiative from the RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice brings together social workers and probation officers to work closely together on dual-status cases to ensure the youth in their care are getting the help they need. This often results in providing “trauma-informed” care rather than punishing them as victims of abuse or neglect.

Neurobiology of Stress

  • The journal Neurobiology of Stress investigates the neural underpinnings of the stress response, neural plasticity, and adaptations that result from stress, and how these can translate to disease. The articles in the inaugural open-access issue of this journal consider attributes that can possibly lead to stress resilience, such as genetic make-up; developmental stage and sex; environmental factors such as prenatal environment and social environment; and modifiers such as coping style, controllability, exercise, and quality of sleep. One of the researchers from Northeastern University (cited above) has an article included.