October 2015

How A Boston School Uses Design To Help Heal Students’ Trauma
This WBUR article looks at how a charter school in Boston is using a trauma-informed approach, not only to teaching and discipline, but also to the design of the building and classrooms. The hallways are gently curving and classrooms are painted in muted earth tones. The feeling the students and staff get is one of safety and home. The theme is borrowed from the health care industry – a “walk in the woods” – that creates a calming feeling grounded in nature.

Adverse Childhood Experiences: Expanding the Concept of Adversity
Pulling from a more racially diverse, urban population, the authors reexamine the ACE study to determine whether the original study sufficiently measured all areas of adversity. In the expanded study, participants described high rates of witnessing community violence (40.5%); racial discrimination (34.5%); and feeling that their neighborhood was unsafe (27.3%). Bullying was also considered in the Expanded ACE indicators.

School Discipline: Standing Up for All Children in the Public School System
Two 5-year-olds are suspended from kindergarten for hitting. One of the children lives with his birth family. The advocacy of the parents on behalf of their birth child results in the removal of the suspension and alternative discipline being put in place. The other child, however, is in foster care. This student is suspended and this action appears on his “permanent record.” The article discusses the dichotomy between the two outcomes and highlights the role of Special Education Surrogates (along with other volunteers such as Mentors and CASAs).

Effects of Trauma Could Constitute Disability, Judge Rules in Compton Unified Case
The procedural rulings of a federal judge on a case filed on behalf of five students and three teachers in California to establish “complex trauma” as a disability under Section 504 are discussed. Although the ruling is mixed, the judge did not dismiss the case. The fact that the judge recognized the neurobiological effects of trauma as being possibly debilitating is considered a victory in itself by many.

Exercise Reduces Suicide Attempts by 23 Percent Among Bullied Teens
Using data from the CDC’s National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 13,583 high school students, researchers at the University of Vermont found that being physically active four or more days per week resulted in a 23 percent reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts in bullied students. Forty-four percent of the nation’s schools have cut significant amounts of time from physical education. The authors hope their research will create a turnaround in this trend, making physical activity part of a public health approach to improving mental health for students.

Financial Empowerment Toolkit for Youth and Young Adults in Foster Care
This government-sponsored toolkit contains best practices and practical tools for youth leaving foster care, who often need help and education around improving financial outcomes. Sections in the toolkit include: building and keeping good credit, paying taxes, and the ins and outs of insurance policies.