California's First Surgeon General: Screen Every Student for Childhood Trauma []


By Patrice Gaines, NBC News, October 11, 2019

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has an ambitious dream: screen every student for childhood trauma before entering school.

"A school nurse would also get a note from a physician that says: 'Here is the care plan for this child's toxic stress. And this is how it shows up,'" said Burke Harris, who was appointed California's first surgeon general in January.

"It could be it shows up in tummy aches. Or it's impulse control and behavior, and we offer a care plan. Instead of reacting harshly and punitively, every educator is trained in recognizing these things. Instead of suspending and expelling or saying, 'What's wrong with you?' we say, 'What happened to you?'"

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And while we are at it, let’s screen every kid for attachment style and attachment base type (Secure, Vigilent /Hypercompliant - likely to dissociate a lot, that insecure base style where the attachment is shut off, self endangering or something like that where the kids are often misdiagnosed as ADHD..). 

We know that a secure attachment inhibits violence. We know that violence is not learned - Violence is unlearned by the quality of the attachment relationship. It makes logical and intuitive sense that ACEs, certainly when we are getting to 5 or more, are occurring because that person is effectively parentless - as noted by the work of Harlow’s peer raised Rhesus Monkeys and work by Steven Soumi also.  We know that attachment styles tend to be transferred down generations. We know that disorganized attachments for sure become personality disorders in the kids that become parents - ie Borderline, Narcissistic, Antisocial, Histrionic, Obsessive Compulsive, Avoidant, Schizoid, Schizotypal etc.   We know that most people in prison have a personality disorder and they have all the characteristics of someone with developmental trauma, lack of impulse control, emotional disregulation  etc... .  

Anyone who has used the Ages and Stages Social Emotional in the office knows that we are already seeing problems in SE skills at 6 months and even earlier if we are attuned ourselves.   These early social emotional deficits are probably a result of a missattuned attachment and the precursors of Developmental Trauma, Adult Personality Disorders, Violence and unmeasurable human suffering.  We know that by 2 months, severe infant neglect can cause more developmental damage than that caused after collecting 10 ACEs in childhood from the age of 1 to 18 years. 

It’s time to move beyond only considering ACEs. ACEs are a consequence of dysfunctional attachment. The self-healing communities concepts still work whether this process is based on ACEs or on the quality of the attachment relationship but it’s the quality of the attachment relationship that is by far and away the most serious problem and fixing attachment relationships to secure would prevent massive human suffering and provide all of us with an opportunity to fulfill our human potential. 


PS - If I had been screened for attachment - it would be disorganized and my secure base would be vigilant /hyper compliant. If I’d been screened for ACEs, my parents would have reported Zero.  So my anxiety would continue to roll down the generations as some type of inborn problem and I would have been given psychotropic drugs to treat undiagnosed child abuse. Frankly, this is a disservice to children and it is a particularly horrific disservice to those compliant but massively dissociative kids.!po=14.8352

Last edited by Tina Cain
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