Pre thinking:

What might be the effect of abuse, neglect on the developing child? What is the effect of living with parents who have mental health or substance abuse issues? She concludes that

Nadine Burke Harris’ healthcare practice focuses on a little-understood, yet very common factor in childhood that can profoundly impact adult-onset disease: trauma.

Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up.

Who is she:

Nadine Burke Harris is a pediatrician from San Francisco who studies the relationship between childhood exposure to adverse events and later brain development, and health. According to the New Yorker, “[Nadine Burke Harris] believes that regarding childhood trauma as a medical issue helps her to treat more effectively the symptoms of patients. Moreover, she believes, this approach, when applied to a large population, might help alleviate the broader dysfunction that plagues poor neighborhoods.”

Why you should listen:

Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris noticed a disturbing trend as she treated children in an underserved neighborhood in San Francisco: that many of the kids who came to see her had experienced childhood trauma.

As founder and CEO of The Center For Youth Wellness, she seeks to create a health model that treats the results of toxic stress in children. In addition to treatment, she stresses the preventative approach to childhood trauma.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When you heard her statistics about health risks in adulthood did it occur to you that childhood stress was the direction in which she was heading? Yes, I know that the title and other information that was presented clues you in, but what if you did not have that information? Would you guess that childhood trauma is that deadly?
  2. When she talks about trauma, how severe and pervasive are the experiences that she presents?
  3. Would children growing up in one of the many war zones in the world have high ACE scores? If so, what could be the future for these children?
  4. How many ACEs have you experienced?
  5. What does she mean when she states , ”What happens when the bear comes home every night?”?
  6. If you were to develop an intervention program for children with high ACE scores, what components would you include? Do you think that the components identified by the Center for Youth Wellness were sufficiently inclusive?

Making Connections:

Here is a link to a You Tube story that is a good background source for Burke’s talk:

How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime with Nadine Burke Harris


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