Parental incarceration is ranked among the ten most serious “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs) which are statistically linked to health and social problems in adult life. (Resilience Beyond Incarceration Fact Sheet)
With this fact in mind, New Circle staff and mentors continue to devote time to learning about trauma informed care. Understanding how children cope with ACEs can guide us in how we support them.
Recently, I attended a very informative webinar by ND Prevention titled Supporting Children of Incarcerated Parents in School. This webinar presents the many ways in which parental incarceration adds to the toxic stresses to children’s lives. These include, but are not limited to:
School behavior and performance problems
Changes in residence and family structure
Decrease in family income
Stigma and shame
As you can see from this list, it is crucial that there are efforts made to prevent ACEs and provide support to people who have experienced them. During the webinar, different suggestions are made on how educators and professionals who work with school age children can meet their needs. Something as simple as creating a safer space or being a nonjudgmental listener can make an impact.
In an effort to share what we learn, the Safer Society Foundation is working to create resource materials about adverse childhood experiences. We hope to continue to collaborate with other mentoring programs as we move forward with this work.