OSWEGO – Integrated Community Planning of Oswego County, Inc., partnered with Prevent Child Abuse New York to host a screening of the groundbreaking film “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” on August 14.
The documentary chronicles the promising beginning of a national movement to prevent childhood trauma, treat toxic stress, and greatly improve the health of future generations.
Panelists representing a broad scope of key stakeholders in the Oswego County Community included Chief Assistant District Attorney Mark Moody; Oswego County Family Court Judge Kimberly Seager; retired Oswego County Health Department Compliance Program Administrator Linda Eagan; and CITI BOCES Staff Development Coordinator Liane Benedict.
The panelists shared their reactions to the film and how we might build a resilient community in the face of toxic stress which is prevalent in Oswego County.
Children who are exposed to toxic stress over an extended period of time can experience a physiological impact that damages the structure and function of a child’s developing brain and alters how one’s DNA functions, which can be passed on through generations.
Toxic stress is a result of Adverse Childhood Experiences which are identified as incidents which include mental or physical abuse, neglect, household members with mental illness or a substance abuse problem, parents who are separated or divorced, to name a few.
ACEs can have both an immediate and long-lasting impact which leads to chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence, as well as financial and social problems.
ACEs are responsible for many costs associated with health care, emergency response, mental health, criminal justice, and workplace absenteeism.
Chief ADA Moody and Honorable Seager discussed how childhood adversity and its effects are apparent in the legal and judicial systems, and that there is a need to incorporate a trauma-informed approach to avoid re-traumatizing children involved is questioning and proceedings.
Such an approach is grounded in the theory that a system designed to protect children and society should not cause harm due to courtroom delays, funding shortfalls, and poor policy design.
Benedict talked about the importance of mindfulness as a social-emotional learning strategy for both teachers and students to retrain their brains to respond differently to stress.
Benedict reported that CITI has appointed a team to focus on ACEs in the education system and trauma-informed instruction and interactions.
Eagan reiterated that ACEs and trauma are a public health problem and that key stakeholders across various sectors of the county can make service and administrative level modifications to take steps toward Oswego County becoming a trauma informed community.
Eagan mentioned that approximately 30 individuals across the county will embark on a seven-month training to become trauma informed champions through the Institute of Trauma and Trauma Informed Care through the University of Buffalo.
ICP will continue to deliver community education to stakeholders and direct service providers to include child care providers as part of its mission to improve the quality of life for children and families is Oswego County.