Overcoming Hurdles to a Child’s Success

The following Letter to the Editor by TLPI Director Susan Cole appeared in the New York Times on October 2, 2012:

Re “The Psych Approach” (column, Sept. 28): Thanks to David Brooks for calling attention to the effect that trauma can have on children. Understanding that adverse childhood experiences can lead to a cascade of social, cognitive and emotional problems, high-risk behavior and ultimately early death is the first step in addressing them.

The interdisciplinary work Mr. Brooks calls for began more than 15 years ago. A number of organizations working at the district, state and national level have developed a new vocabulary for addressing the needs of traumatized children, and new ways of structuring the school environment.

The spreading “trauma sensitive schools” movement has created a shared understanding of the coordination needed among teachers, administrators, social workers, and even bus drivers and cafeteria workers to create the safe and supportive environments these children, and all children, need.

Organizations working to address the effect of childhood trauma need the support this critical public policy issue requires and its inclusion in the education reform agenda.


Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 29, 2012

The writer is director of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a joint program of Harvard Law School and Massachusetts Advocates for Children.


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