13 years ago, Kids At Risk Action presented a workshop at the fourth annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations in New York. There was a severe lack of understanding and shortage of better answers to the questions surrounding child abuse and child protection. Today the medical communities understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and the value of a trauma informed approach to helping at risk children is much more promising – but we have to make it happen.
California’s Surgeon General, Nadine Burke Harris has declared ACES a public health epidemic and public school crisis.
People came a long way to be involved and learn how to make a difference in the lives of at risk children. The conference audience was diverse, representing many nations. Hamid Karzai, President of Afganistan was one of many internationally known speakers at the conference.
The workshop discussion was centered around “Why Some Children Don’t Learn” and to help attendees understand the mental health issues of abused and neglected children and what resources they need to gain the coping and learning skills necessary to function in our schools, homes, and communities.
A primary goal of mine was to show how Post Traumatic Stress is common among abused & traumatized children and make a solid case for why educators, social workers, foster and adoptive parents, and others dealing with abused and neglected children need more and better resources if they are to make progress in helping these children succeed with friends and family, at home and in school.
I also work hard to explain why we need to be advocates not only for the children, but for the people dealing with abused and neglected children.
Too many teachers are leaving their field or transferring out of inner city schools to suburban or private schools. The danger and difficulty of working with violent and unstable children is real and growing.
Our schools are showing the results with high rates of failure and dropouts. Our communities are showing the results of high crime rates and the world’s highest rates of incarceration. Today, California’s Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris has proclaimed Adverse Childhood Experiences a Public Health Epidemic and Public Schools Crisis in her state. Every state has the problem – Not just California.
Without support at the community level for programs and policies that support America’s institutions, continued exodus from these most important fields and resulting failure of the children they serve must be expected.
One of the workshop attendees told me afterwards that she had recently quit working in her much loved field of social services because of the lack of resources and negative recognition given to her and her coworkers.
Her comment (rephrased) was that she could make three times as much money being a nanny for one child in New York (and be appreciated for it- my insight) than she could caring for a huge caseload of really needy children without having the resources needed to make a difference in their lives, watching them fail, and at the same time, be blamed for their lack of progress (it truly is depressing).
Her heart was genuinely with the children in need, but it is grueling work and without the resources, or support of the community (or the system) one can only stand so much failure (it becomes personal).
If you ever have the chance to visit the United Nations and take the tour, do it.
Our tour was lead by a bright young man from Uruguay who was able to give us the sense of history and evolution of the UN.
There is an aura of cooperation and striving for a better world that drifts from the walls. At the same time there are many sorrowful examples of tortured people, eleven year old boy soldiers, murdered and raped children, and nations committing horrific violence upon their own innocent populations and their neighbors.
The need for an organization committed to mediating disputes seems so necessary. The violence that is so common among us is painful.
We are stuck with the latter, we can only hope for the former.
take the lead,
the KARA team