Addressing Childhood Adversity in Schools (


We welcome guest author Godwin Higa, Principal, Cherokee Point Elementary School City Heights, San Diego whose work with childhood adversity and trauma is making a difference in the lives of children. 

At Cherokee Point, located in San Diego's City Heights neighborhood, nearly all of our students deal with some sort of childhood adversity. A hundred percent of our students receive free lunches, and most live under the federal poverty guideline. Many of our students' families face daily immigration threats of deportation.

We follow a trauma-informed model and restorative justice practices that help students learn to cope with adversity and resolutions in a healthy and compassionate way. All of our teachers are trained to proactively engage students and their parents, and collectively create a plan to address both the conflict and the deeper underlying issues. Parent leaders are training other parents about trauma-informed care at monthly workshops. We also have trauma-informed and trained counselors on site who provide intensive support to students who suffer from major traumas that teachers alone are not trained to handle. Since taking this approach, we have seen tremendous results. In the past three years, we have completely eliminated suspensions in our school. The number of discipline referrals also has plummeted to 20 per year.

Increasingly, we are not alone in our efforts to reduce the impact of childhood adversity and trauma on children. Last year, the San Diego Unified School District trained more than 600 staff members on the effects of trauma on the brain and ways to help students regulate their emotions and gain more control of their lives.

Over the past year and led by Center for Youth Wellness, we worked with nearly 20 organizations representing different sectors and regions to develop a seven-part statewide action plan to turn around this crisis and ensure lasting change for the state's children and families.

For more on the article, co-authored by Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers, please click on the link;


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