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March 2018

Senate backs program that would prevent childhood trauma [vtdigger.org]

The state Senate has approved a bill aimed at addressing the long-term health and social effects of severe childhood trauma. The legislation, S.261 , which now goes to the House, is designed to bolster the state’s support for children and families who have experienced “toxic stress.” Exposure to severe stress has been shown to alter brain chemistry and affect behavior. A major provision of the bill is the addition of a new “director of prevention and health improvement” to the Agency of...

Philly DA announces changes to ‘end mass incarceration’ through lighter sentences [whyy.org]

On the same day news broke of White House plans to pursue the most severe punishments against opioid drug dealers — the death penalty — Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced new policies aimed at reducing the severity of sentences and ultimately driving down the city’s prison population. Krasner will now require prosecutors in his office to state on the record the costs and benefits of the sentences they recommend to the judge after securing a conviction. “A dollar spent on...

The "life-changing" story Oprah reports this week (cbsnews.com)

[Last Sunday "60 Minutes" aired a piece by Oprah Winfrey called, "Treating Childhood Trauma.”] The follow-up interview with Oprah on "60 Minutes Overtime" is very powerful. She says -- “This story has had more impact on me than practically anything that I have ever done.” Oprah says that working on this story caused “a revolution” in her own life. “This story was life-changing for me.” “What has been life-changing for me is the question, What happened to you?” “It has changed the way I see...

Dr. Seuss, Resilience, and the Science of HOPE By Chan Hellman, Phd. and Casey Gwinn, J.D.

One of the bestselling children’s books in history is Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” It will soon celebrate its 30th Anniversary. The 1990 classic includes this line: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” We love to challenge children and adults to say it out loud and repeat it over and over. This summer thousands of children will chant it in Camp HOPE America, our camp for children impacted by domestic violence.

Transgender Teachers: In Their Own Voices [npr.org]

NPR Ed has been reporting this month on the lives of transgender educators around the country. We surveyed 79 educators from the U.S. and Canada, and they had a lot to say – about their teaching, their identities and their roles in the lives of young people. We reported the survey findings here , and followed with this story about how educators are coming together to organize and to share their experiences in the classroom, and in their lives. We asked our survey respondents to send in a...

Don't try too hard to be happy, study warns [medicalnewstoday.com]

All that anybody really wants is happiness. We may spend every waking hour working hard at achieving the goals that we hope will make us happy. But does it really have the effect that we hope it will? I'm pretty certain we've all been there: you go to college to get a degree, thinking that a diploma will make you happy, and then you graduate and happiness still seems far off. And then you think, "O.K., if I manage to get this amazing job, that will make me happy for sure." [For more on this...

'What happened' vs. 'what's wrong': Recognizing how trauma impacts us all | Perspective [philly.com]

There is a toxin in Philadelphia that our children and families are being exposed to near constantly: trauma. Trauma lingers and isn’t just limited to a single incident, like a gunshot. Trauma manifests in hunger, housing instability, or living without utilities. It can include exposure to abuse, neglect, gun violence, police brutality, imprisonment, and domestic violence. And trauma can pass through generations as the result of historical violence, slavery, redlining, and mass...

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018 [prisonpolicy.org]

Can it really be true that most people in jail are being held before trial? And how much of mass incarceration is a result of the war on drugs? These questions are harder to answer than you might think, because our country’s systems of confinement are so fragmented. The various government agencies involved in the justice system collect a lot of critical data, but it is not designed to help policymakers or the public understand what’s going on. Meaningful criminal justice reform that reduces...

Why help isn’t only a ‘yes’ away [theintell.com]

Caught up in the opioid crisis, people have to overcome many barriers to find their way out. Luke Scrbacic feels like he’s caught in a perfect storm that keeps him using heroin. At the center of it is fear of what he would suffer if he stopped. “I’m so afraid of being sick,” he said, standing along one of the needle-strewn streets of Philadelphia’s Kensington section, his home for the past two years. The withdrawal triggers an agonizing pain unlike anything he’s ever experienced. “The only...

#MeToo Behind Bars: When the Sexual Assaulter Holds the Keys to Your Cell [truth-out.org]

In January, Strawberry Hampton, a trans woman incarcerated in Illinois, settled a lawsuit about repeated sexual and physical abuse she'd experienced by prison staff in the state's men's prisons. What she endured isn't limited to Illinois prisons, or to men's prisons. Across the country, thousands of incarcerated people face sexual harassment, abuse and assault, frequently at the hands of staff. In the face of these attacks -- and the reality of retaliation -- incarcerated people have come...

What Standing Rock Gave the World [yesmagazine.org]

At the height of the movement at Standing Rock, Indigenous teens half a world away in Norway were tattooing their young bodies with an image of a black snake. Derived from Lakota prophecy, the creature had come to represent the controversial Dakota Access pipeline for the thousands of water protectors determined to try to stop it. It was a show of international solidarity between the Indigenous Sami and the Lakota. “They got tattoos because of the Norwegian money invested in the pipeline,”...

Relationships are the best antidote to trauma [times-gazette.com]

In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. Vietnam protests swept the country. McDonald’s introduced the Big Mac, selling for a whopping 49 cents. And in 1968, the television news magazine “60 Minutes” debuted. Over the ensuing 50 years, the metronomic stopwatch of “60 Minutes” has brought solid reporting and fascinating interviews into our living rooms, with only a few hiccups along the way. Its correspondents have talked with presidents and popes, shot pool...

A Wisconsin School’s Privilege Controversy Shows How “Diversity” Fails Us [slate.com]

Every January, schools across the country cobble together some kind of programming to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Whether it’s taking students to a local civil rights museum or serving fried chicken and collard greens , every local school administrator puts their own spin on the holiday. In a town about forty minutes outside of Milwaukee, a group of students and teachers decided to include a privilege aptitude test in their MLK day festivities . The test, modeled after one given by the...

Lower Educational Attainment And Income, Early Trauma Can Increase Health Risks (scienceblog.com)

Lower educational attainment and income, and a higher incidence of trauma in childhood due to economic and social factors, can lead to greater health risks, according to researchers in the Office of Public Health Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa ‘s Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work . Co-authors Catherine Pirkle , an assistant professor of health policy , and Yan Yan Wu , an assistant professor of epidemiology , looked at health data of more than 2,000 people in Albania,...

The Question Oprah Says We Need to Ask People Who've Experienced Childhood Trauma (The Mighty)

On Sunday night, Oprah Winfrey hosted a “60 Minutes” segment exploring a topic that for her, hits close to home — the mental health effects of childhood trauma. Winfrey has been open in the past about her history of childhood sexual and physical abuse , which she said she experienced from ages 10 to 14. On “60 Minutes,” she shared a fellow survivors’ story, highlighting a treatment framework some experts are using to help those who’ve experienced trauma called trauma-informed care.

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