December 2016

Consider This Things to Consider in December 2016 from RTSC:

How Anxiety Leads to Disruptive Behavior
This article, available in both English and Spanish, discusses the ways in which a child will express their anxiety in an environment they perceive as unsafe. These responses are physiological responses that maximize the body’s ability to either face danger or escape danger. Some children will “freeze” to stay under the radar; others will “fight” – which is usually misread as an angry, disruptive, challenging behavior. Dr. Nancy Rappaport, author of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, is cited for her strategies in teaching these anxious students.

School Discipline Reform and Advocacy
This Issue Brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation emphasizes the need for systemic reforms to discipline and school policing practices that disproportionately harm Black males. The report points out a growing body of research suggesting that implicit biases impact the disparate treatment of Black children, particularly Black boys. It calls the implications of this implicit bias “chilling” adding to the urgency for discipline reforms in school districts across the nation.

Racial Injustice and Trauma: African Americans in the U.S.
As stated in this Position Statement from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “the impact of the unresolved historical trauma of slavery on intergenerational trauma and community trauma should be addressed within a child trauma services framework. Embedded institutional racism associated with these traumas is not yet adequately addressed in child trauma care and continues to shape current policies and attitudes.” See the abstract above.

Project Implicit
Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about.

Middle School Suicides Reach An All-Time High
This story from NPR discusses the role that schools and school staff play in addressing students’ mental health especially in light of the fact that the Centers for Disease Control states that, for the first time, suicide rates for U.S. middle school students have surpassed the rate of death by car crashes. David Jobes, who heads the Suicide Prevention Lab at Catholic University in Washington, D.C, discusses the six myths on suicide that every parent and educator should know.

The Perils of a Life in Isolation
According to the author of this article, rejection by others psychologically wounds us more deeply than almost anything else, and research by neuroscientists reveals that ostracism can lead to feeling actual physical pain. Historical examples of the results of extended isolation are discussed. Apparently, monotonous stimulation from our surroundings may cause us to turn our attention inward which most of us have much less experience handling. This can lead to a profoundly altered state of consciousness. The ramifications for those incarcerated in solitary confinement, or using isolation as a way to keep themselves safe from the perils of a social life, are profound.

The Future of Youth Justice: A Community-Based Alternative to the Youth Prison Model
On January 17, 2017, Lynsey Heffernan, the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative State Coordinator for the Department of Youth Services, will present a Webinar for RTSC on Juvenile Justice Reform through JDAI (The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative). This report from the Executive Sessions at Harvard Kennedy School discusses the re-traumatization many youth experience in the juvenile justice system, where many are kept in environments that seem designed to trigger trauma and rage: long periods of isolation; harsh, sterile surroundings; bright lights; a constant din; and a near-constant threat of violence. It speaks to the high cost and low benefit of incarceration for adolescents. Sign up for our January Webinar and join the discussion.

Should Marijuana Use Matter in Child Welfare Cases?
This Boston Globe article discusses a little know provision in the bill to legalize marijuana that was passed on November 8th: parents’ marijuana use, possession, and cultivation cannot be the primary basis for taking away custody — or other parental rights like visitation — unless there is “clear, convincing and articulable evidence that the person’s actions related to marijuana have created an unreasonable danger to the safety” of a child. The authors canvas several eminent lawyers throughout the state and nationally for their views on the subject, including the so-called “canna-bigotry” that may occur.

Useful Tools and Resources

This website includes interactive multimedia training courses for adoptive, kinship and foster parents in English and Spanish. Types of courses include: 10 curriculum-based trainings, advanced parenting workshops, behavior management and parenting strategies. Courses are available for child welfare professionals and families involved with child welfare. Free webinars and discussion boards are offered.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
This new website is updated frequently and includes many resources including: final regulations, proposed regulations, guidance and regulatory information, public notices, and negotiated rulemaking.

Five Toolkits to Help School Leaders Transform High Schools
These toolkits help school leaders leverage opportunities available in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to create next-generation high schools and bolster the college and career readiness of all students, with a focus on accelerating success for traditionally underserved students.

FACT SHEET: Reducing Recidivism for Justice-Involved Youth
The U.S. Department of Education announced today the release of new guides and resources to help justice-involved youth transition back to traditional school settings. The resources include a guide written for incarcerated youth; a newly updated transition toolkit and resource guide for practitioners in juvenile justice facilities; a document detailing education programs in juvenile justice facilities from the most recent Civil Rights Data Collection; and a website that provides technical assistance to support youth with disabilities with transitioning out of juvenile justice facilities.