Gandara and Cappello: Want to end childhood trauma? Ask a high school student


Adverse childhood experiences are a huge threat to our students, diminishing their capacity to learn and succeed. We know from the research that our students suffer when they endure ACEs in the form of abuse, neglect, hunger, and living with parents who misuse substances, are violent, and have untreated mental health challenges. We know in some classrooms as many as three quarters of the students endure three or more ACEs. Our students want help for themselves and their struggling parents.

We have heard them loud and clear, and we have responded by creating the DoΓ±a Ana Resilience Leaders program to bring together agency leaders from ten key family-serving sectors to commit to ensuring 100% of our county residents student, parents and grandparents have access to the services shown to prevent ACEs and strengthen families, giving students the support to achieve. Part of this process is listening to the community and hearing their ideas for solutions.

We asked high school students of OΓ±ate High School and Las Montanas High School their ideas for ending ACEs and helping them and their families heal and thrive:

  • More school classes on ACEs and education to parents
  • Access to the internet for poor families in case of emergency or help
  • Lower cost at hospitals
  • More involved law enforcement in communities
  • Access to transportation
  • Safe Haven for youth (an alternative to foster care)
  • Better foster care
  • More counseling in the workplace and public schools
  • ACEs aware at baby doctors
  • Scholarships/financial aid
  • Sports/clubs
  • Take us (students) seriously β€” just because we are young doesn’t mean our trauma should be invalidated.
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