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Group Advocating For Creation Of 'Trauma-Informed' Legislation In Sacramento

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Group Advocating For Creation Of "Trauma-Informed" Legislation In Sacramento
Group Advocating For Creation Of "Trauma-Informed" Legislation In Sacramento GUEST: Ted Lempert, president, Children Now

State policies could be improved by greater understanding of the lingering effects of childhood trauma. That is the case that social workers and psychologists will be making two California legislators today as part of a policymaker education day. The California campaign to combat childhood adversity wants lawmakers to learn about the effects of toxic stress resulting from childhood trauma. Which they say can influence everything from healthcare to the economy. Joining the is Ted lumber, president of children now, one of the organizations represented at today's event. Welcome to the program. To start off, back in the 90s a research project here in San Diego identified specific circumstances in childhood they can be the root of trauma and they developed the test called adverse childhood experience from -- or ACE. What kinds of events or circumstances did A/C include in its test? These kind of events can include abuse, neglect, exposure to violence, and wide range of events that fortunately to many of our kids experience and then of a child has more than two of these as you know called A/C adverse childhood experiences it comes is significant threat to their health and well-being. The high score the test can leave children and adults was something referred to as toxic stress. Can you describe what that means? Toxic stress is a severe form of stress that these children deal with throughout their lives and again it comes from the specific adverse experiences. Essentially what it means is that these children then at deep risk for serious health problems later on often leading to academic and disciplinary problems in school. What is so keep out this is prevention and support early on is really critical to trying to avoid kids getting into the situation where there actually experiencing toxic stress. What are some of the effects of childhood trauma? When there is trauma and it is more than occasional and it is a regular stress, it can lead to some kind of brain damage or certainly negative impact and then it has been shown to lead to disruptive practices in school, lower academic achievement into health concerns as well essentially, folks can look at it, everyone deals with stress in their regular life but if you have severe, ongoing, intense stress or these adverse childhood experiences it actually begins to have a serious health impact on you and I think folks can relate to the idea of this constant stress. In our kids, what we are seeing, it affects their education, their future health. Especially younger children who are witnessing or dealing with violent situations or abuse, one can understand how those situations can lead to this serious health consequence. I want to talk a little bit more about the impact of the ACE test and scoring high on the test. What are the policy areas that might fill the most impact from kids who do experience this kind of childhood trauma? All kids should be screened is something that is actually in our current laws yet only about one third of our kids are getting screened and those kinds of screenings can help identify some of these potentially stressful or toxic situations. Making sure that there is mental health services available both through health insurance but also screenings and support at schools so kids have a place to go in teachers have a place to refer kids who are experiencing problems. One of the other policies which is making sure that our educators know and others are trained in these issues and that is something that connects to state policy. One of the things that you are advocating for is a trauma informed approach to different areas of policy including education. That is being used in some schools including H Eric -- at Cherokee point elementary school in City Heights. What do know about how this teaching philosophy, this trauma informed approach results in better futures for children? What we know is that if you are focused on prevention, if there is trained professionals where the children are, you will significantly reduce these potentially devastating impacts of childhood trauma. Unfortunately, the program in San Diego and others around the state are at the moment the exception rather than the rule and we should make sure that in all of our schools and communities that there are services available. It is unconscionable that a child is suffering through such stress that they are not able to function in school and their health is run. I've been speaking with Ted, president of children now. One of the organizations represented at today's lawmaker event. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Could state policies be improved by a greater understanding of the lingering effects of childhood trauma? That's the case that social workers and psychologists will be making to California legislators Tuesday as part a policymaker education day.

The California Campaign to Combat Childhood Adversity wants lawmakers to learn about the effects of toxic stress resulting from childhood trauma, which they say can influence everything from health care to the economy.

RELATED: Take The ACE Quiz — And Learn What It Does And Doesn't Mean

"California's children are in trouble: more than 1.5 million have had two or more adverse childhood experiences, which can lead to severe physical, emotional and educational problems for them down the road, and exact a heavy price on our communities and our economy," Children Now president Ted Lempert said in a news release.

The campaign points to research that shows people who are exposed to trauma during childhood have poor health outcomes and shorter life expectancy.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences study, led by San Diego physician Vincent Felitti, looked at 10 categories including major physical, sexual and emotional abuse, emotional and physical neglect and household dysfunction including domestic violence and mental illness.

According to the study, exposure to as few as three of these categories during childhood could put a person at risk for heart disease, emphysema, cancer, auto-immune disease and other disease.

Lempert joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to talk about how childhood trauma affects California communities.

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