November 2016

Consider This Things to Consider in November 2016 from RTSC:

Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems
Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child has published this new Working Paper in order to show how the science of child development can be leveraged to strengthen national systems of child welfare. The absolute need for responsive, nurturing, and positive relationships with caring adults from the earliest age – and how the process of early brain development can be disrupted by adverse experiences – is discussed. Many ideas and suggestions are offered to reform and revise the child welfare system based on new findings in neuroscience.

Drug-Addiction Epidemic Creates Crisis in Foster Care
In Massachusetts, where 9,500 children are in foster care, the opioid epidemic has hit “every socioeconomic situation and every city,” and the foster care system was ill-prepared to deal with it, according to the state’s child advocate, Maria Moissades. The number of children in the custody of the state has surged throughout the country, the median age of kids has fallen from 10 to 8 years of age – and kids are staying in the custody of child welfare agencies for longer periods of time.

Mental and Physical Health of Children in Foster Care
The authors of the study from the journal Pediatrics find that children in foster care are in poor mental and physical health relative to children in the general population, children across specific family types, and children in economically disadvantaged families. While some differences can be explained by adjusting for children’s demographic characteristics, nearly all differences are explained by also adjusting for the current home environment. Additionally, children adopted from foster care, compared with children in foster care, have significantly higher odds of having some health problems.

How the Stress of Racism Affects Learning
This article from The Atlantic painfully discusses how a child’s biological reaction to race-based stress is compounded by the psychological response (toxic hormones being pumped throughout the body) to discrimination or the coping mechanisms youngsters develop to lessen the distress. The impact on learning is a trauma response – black and Latino students whose concentration, motivation, and, ultimately, learning is impaired by unintended and overt racism.

Understanding How Community Violence and Trauma Impact Teens
Exposure to and fear of violence, such as gun violence, domestic violence, or physical bullying, can traumatize individuals and impact the social and emotional behavior of students at home and in school. This short article, written for educators and caregivers, examines the adolescent response to violence and trauma and offers some strategies to restore a sense of safety and well-being into their lives.

Associations Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and ADHD Diagnosis and Severity
The authors on this study which appeared in Academic Pediatrics describe the prevalence of ACEs in children with and without ADHD, and examine the significant associations between ACE type, ACE score, and ADHD diagnosis and severity.  According to the authors, “enhanced efforts to identify ACEs among children who have or who are suspected of having ADHD should be an important component of ongoing efforts to optimize ADHD evaluation methods, diagnosis, and management, and to enhance delivery of care that is sensitive and responsive to the needs of children and families who experience trauma.”

A Surprising Family Legacy: the Molecular Scars of Trauma
This reader-friendly article about the potential transgenerational impact of trauma and the new science of epigenetics discusses the so-called biological memory of a previous generation’s trauma history – the result of altered genes and varying levels of stress hormones. The author points out that this is a new and rapidly developing science, and that changes over several generations are difficult to measure.

Useful Tools and Resources

Department of Justice Launches Changing Minds Campaign to Help Children Exposed to Violence
This press release announces the national campaign to raise awareness, teach skills and inspire public action to address children’s exposure to violence. It will feature short films, social media, and print content intended to reach adults who interact with children and youth in grades K–12. It will engage teachers, coaches, counselors, doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers and other frontline professionals and caregivers, providing strategies that can help kids recover from trauma. Click here to view the new website: https://changingmindsnow.org/

 Don’t Quit: 5 Strategies for Recovering After Your Worst Day Teaching
A quick little read to lift your spirits after a bad day in the trenches.

The Teen Years Explained: A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development
This extensive guide from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health describes the normal physical, cognitive, emotional and social, sexual, identity formation, and spiritual changes that happen during adolescence and how adults can promote healthy development.