Anna, Age Eight

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Big Idea #4: Treat Childhood Trauma Like a Virus

Imagine if a teacher discovered that 3/4 of her students were infected with the Ebola virus. The CDC Would be called — the school board would hold emergency meetings w parents and local and state public health leadership.

Government leaders all the way up to the federal level would hold press conferences, and monitor the situation closely.

The community's plight would be national, then global news.

The nation would demand to know: how could this happen? And what we do?

Naturally, we would seek to solve the problem and prevent it from spreading. We wouldn't punish the infected students for not finishing their math homework simply because they were suffering.

Yet in many classrooms there is an epidemic impacting up to 3/4 of students. we call it childhood trauma and it scars our children forever, ruining lives and destroying futures. These traumas are so identifiable that we even have a term for them: adverse childhood experiences – or ACEs.

ACEs include physical and emotional neglect; physical, emotional and sexual abuse; and living in households where adults misuse substances, have mental health challenges, are violent to partners, parents are separated, or a family member is incarcerated.

So far, the destructive impact of ACEs, as the trauma moves through our community like an invisible virus, has been largely ignored, but the destruction that trauma leaves is all around us.

ACEs greatly diminishes a student’s capacity to learn, has long-term medical and mental health consequences and costs local governments millions of dollars.

Traumatized students suffer fear, sadness and anguish for years and are often marginalized in - and in some cases, removed from – their schools for acting out or being unable to engage in learning.

It’s time to treat trauma as we would any serious virus threatening our children.

Fortunately, we know how to prevent and treat ACEs. We know how to support students and their family members struggling w trauma. We have the data, the technology and the plan of action to make the solution a reality.

To accomplish this, we propose establishing the Anna, Age Eight Institute guided by the book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment.

The Institute will focus on strengthening community systems and lifelong learning to create:

  • Safe Childhoods
  • Successful Students
  • Resilient Families
  • Productive Employees
  • Healthy Communities

Join us in this groundbreaking work developing a first-of-its kind center devoted exclusively to family safety and success.

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.