Anna, Age Eight

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Dear Oprah,

Please forgive my rather unconventional way of reaching out to you. It has been almost twenty years since we met and you created an entire program around my book series Ten Talks Parents Must Have With Their Children – focused on parent-child communication to promote healthy relationships and keeping children safe from violence and drug misuse.

After my appearance on your show, I became the developer for a ten year national campaign called “Can we talk?” funded by the Centers for Disease Control, to set up training in 100 cities to teach parents how to talk with their children about health, relationships and preventing the epidemic of AIDS and HIV.

Now, twenty years later, another epidemic is here – an epidemic of childhood trauma.

I have been living in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the last decade working in public health and child welfare. Here, as across the nation, large segments of the child populations are enduring adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – which as you well know, means various forms of abuse, neglect and trauma that can keep students from learning and may lead families members to substance misuse and untreated mental health challenges. In some classrooms, as many as three quarters of the students have three or more ACEs.

The cycle of trauma – passed from parent to child, generation after generation – continues to diminish families across our state known, somewhat ironically, as “the land of enchantment.”

To address the magnitude of childhood trauma, I co-wrote the book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment (with Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney. In it we share the story of eight-year old Anna (a fictional character based on a very real child). Anna was in and out of the child welfare system eight times before being returned to her mother who kicked her to death. The public outcry was loud but no significant reforms took place. There are so many “Annas” here in New Mexico, with most of their traumatized lives flying under the radar of child protective services and their teachers.

Our book, made free of charge to the public, has been the catalyst for creating the Anna, Age Eight Institute, that could support each county in becoming family-friendly and trauma-free. I am asking you to consider visiting New Mexico as your power to inspire and unite people would be transformative and begin a profound healing.

With respect and gratitude,
Dominic Cappello

The Anna, Age Eight Institute
for the Data-Driven Prevention of
Childhood Trauma and Maltreatment

Serving all New Mexico
A proposal by Northern New Mexico College

Contact Us

For questions or to help establish the Anna, Age Eight Institute, please email us at info@safetyandsuccess.org.

The Book

book coverThe Anna, Age Eight Institute is guided by the strategies presented in the book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment by Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD and Dominic Cappello. You can download the book free-of-charge here: www.AnnaAgeEight.org/anna.