Last week I attended the premiere viewing of Kentucky Educational Television's (KET) Special Report called "Safe and Sound; Raising Emotionally Healthy Children in a Stressful World," produced by Laura Krueger, and in part funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The report discusses the impact of trauma and toxic stress among children and focuses on early life experiences. A child who experiences toxic stress (not being held, needs not being met, divorce, exposure to violence, neglect) is more likely to have behavioral and emotional issues in the future. The Report discusses, in fact that adults with weight problems and overeating addictions are more likely to have experienced toxic stress as a child. We have to reduce adverse childhood experiences because chronic or toxic stress, if extreme or persistent enough, will result in your body unable to recover.
The Report does a fabulous job addressing some of the solutions and programs that are happening around our state. In Kentucky, over 20,000 youth have an incarcerated parent. At the Mason County Detention Center, within the substance abuse recovery program, Angela Mitchell from UK Extension teaches parenting classes to the men. Yelling and fighting are not good for babies brains. And, physical punishment should be removed as a way to discipline children.The HANDS Program through the KY Department of Health works with families by going to their homes and teaching them parenting skills. The Portland Promise Center is more of a peer to peer support group and has a resource called Ages and Stages which encourages parents to complete to know if their child is Kindergarten ready. If not, they are linked with resources in the community to help that child get on track. The START program works with parents with addiction issues in which their addiction has meant social services has taken their children away. The START program provides counseling and support around addiction with the hopes that these parents go into recovery and are able to effectively parent their children.
Symptoms of youth who have undergone toxic stress include having no empathy, attention deficit, misbehave to get attention. We tend to treat the symptoms with medication, never understanding the root cause. The Report encourages that any parent struggling with parenting skills or their child's behavior should access support.
This Report was incredibly well-done and helps explain some of the behavioral issues we see in the K-12 setting. Addressing the emotional problems children have early and supporting all parents with education, awareness and support would help create healthier families and a healthier community.
If you would like to see a preview, click here.