Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) focus of new Sonoma County initiative []


The classic response for troubled students is reactive. Discipline. A trip to the vice principal’s office. Suspension. And, sometimes, expulsion. But more than 20 years of research on what causes students to become troubled shows that approach doesn’t work.

The question, then, has been: What does?

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control study looked at childhood traumas, known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and the effects they have on young people as they grow up.

A new initiative in Sonoma County seeks to take that research and give new tools to those on the frontlines — teachers, counselors, coaches and nurses — to better help troubled kids.

Sixty people applied for the county’s first ACEs and Resiliency Fellowship and 25 were selected to participate in an intensive nine-month training, led in part by Dr. Robert Anda, who authored the CDC study. The goal is to help them recognize toxic stress and what that can do to kids. The approach is called “trauma-informed care.”

“Just here at Hanna, most of our kids are impacted by adversity, and what we now know is toxic stress created by that adversity,” said Brian Farragher, executive director of the Hanna Boys Center, a residential treatment center and high school in Sonoma.

[For more of this story, written by Christi Warren, go to]

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