"So, how are the children?"
Victim Assistance Specialist, Jacob Wetterling Resource Center
This is something I am often asked when I am teaching. As a new school year approaches, this question is very timely. If we lived in a world where all children grew up safe and free from harm, we would answer "Wonderful!" However, two examples I encountered this week demonstrate otherwise.
The first was an hour-long documentary titled, "Voices of Parkland: Healing Out Loud," which chronicled the students of Parkland, FL who will forever be impacted by the February 14th school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Seventeen students and staff members were murdered by a former student. In this documentary, videos, interviews, news footage, and social media were combined to recount the day of the shooting. The grief, sorrow, and fear were apparent, as was the courage, strength, and fortitude to create change.
The second example appeared on the front page of USA Today on August 13th. It was a photo of a mother with her 6-year-old son. The caption read “Maya Rockafellow, 40, of Shelby Township, MI outfitted her 6-year-old son, Graham, with a backpack that has a bulletproof insert as he prepares for first grade."
So, in fact, the children are not always "ok".
The landmark research study, "The Adverse Childhood Experiences ACE Study (ACE Study)," showed that adversity in childhood can have a long-lasting impact on adult health. This study has educated thousands of adults on the neurobiology of stress and how trauma may impact the development of child's brain, development of immune and hormonal systems, and the ability to feel safe and connected to caring adults.
If you work and care for children, please consider learning more about Adverse Childhood Experiences and the concept of Trauma Informed Care. Teachers, childcare providers, healthcare providers, and many professionals could encounter children every day who may have experienced abuse, neglect, or adversity. Identifying risk is just one piece of the puzzle. Creating a safe space, restoring trust, fostering resiliency, and developing authentic connections are vital to healing and thriving.