Spotlight, Shadows and Speaking Truth to Power
CHICAGO, IL, December 3, 2015 – You’re not going to see any superheroes in the new movie Spotlight. Well, at least not the kinds that wear capes or battle space aliens.
Nor are you going to see car chases, tidal waves, earth quakes or even people raising their voices very often.
And for a movie about the Boston Archdiocese child sexual abuse scandal, you’re not going to learn much about evidence-based solutions, or the most effective ways to raise healthy, vibrant children either.
But you will learn something very valuable, however, about how we prevent child sexual abuse from ever happening in the first place: we don’t allow it to exist in the dark, wrapped in secrets that are fostered by adults who are unable, or unwilling, to ask hard questions about what they know is happening right in front of them.
You will also learn that the heroes in Spotlight are the investigative journalists and brave citizens who stood up to a system that thrived on secrecy and intimidation.
If the role adults play in preventing child sexual abuse isn’t clear already, let us be clear here, now – preventing child sexual abuse is not the responsibility of children, it’s the responsibility of the adults who live in the neighborhoods and communities those children live in.
Those adults, all adults, all of us, have to be willing to face things that make us uncomfortable, and as we see in Spotlight, we also have to be willing to confront the institutions which prefer that such actions are ignored.
What Spotlight shows us more than anything, is that many adults, and many people in power, knew exactly what was going in Boston, and as it turns out in countless communities across the nation, and the world, but they refused to connect the dots, or allow those dots to be connected, though even worse, they refused to expose those lies to the light and speak truth to power.
Spotlight also shows us however, what happens when we do expose lies to light.
We transform the lives of children, and the adults they will become, as well as the neighborhoods they call home, and those institutions that had so much sway, no longer look so all-powerful, or unassailable.
Given all this, our request to you is simple:
- Start by seeing Spotlight, encourage your friends and neighbors to do so as well, discuss it and then learn more about what you don’t understand by contacting your local Prevent Child Abuse America chapter, which you can locate on our website;
- Volunteer at your local child-serving and child sexual abuse prevention organizations;
- Ask the hard questions when something doesn’t seem right in your neighborhood or at an organization serving your child and family, and believe children when they tell you something isn’t; and
- Make sure the institutions in your communities have child sexual abuse prevention guidelines in place, and for an example of such policies please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you’re not sure how to do any of these things, please let us know, because we’ll be glad to help, and please note, that we’ve prepared a discussion guide that can be useful for community groups who want to create calls to action.
“Spotlight does something amazing and rare,” says James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America. “It takes a story that could be lost in emotion and pain, and portrays how doing the right thing, being dogged about it, and ignoring the pressures to turn away from the real story, can be just as powerful to watch as any superhero in a cape leaping over a tall building. I’m thrilled Spotlight is out in the world, but I’ll be more thrilled when I know that we’ve all seen it, discussed it and are doing the right things for children ourselves.”
Call for Proposals now open for Sessions at The 2016 National Conference for America's Children
Thank you for your interest in The National Conference for America's Children. Use this link to fill out our survey and submit your proposal. Please be sure to read the below introductory information on the types of sessions that we are seeking for our 2016 conference, taking place at the Hilton Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati, OH.
The goal of this conference is to bring together professionals who work across the social ecology to share information, network, and advance the field of child abuse and neglect prevention and the promotion of child and family well-being.
In order to achieve this goal, the conference planning team determined four focus areas on which the content of the conference will be based:
Focus Area One: Direct Service for Children and Families: This focus area will offer workshops on clinical-level prevention services. Possible topics include home visiting, parent education, infant mental health, fatherhood, prenatal engagement, effective prevention strategies and Circle of Parents/parent leadership.
Focus Area Two: Organizational Success: This focus area will offer workshops on the administrative side of prevention and child well-being. Possible topics include staff satisfaction/retention, managing small non-profits, fundraising, team building, self-care/avoiding burnout, accreditation, program evaluation, ethical and professional issues, building community collaborations and strategic planning.
Focus Area Three: Messaging, Communications and Technology: This focus area will offer workshops on how messaging can be used to move communities to action. Possible topics include the language of child abuse prevention, utilizing social media for messaging, apps for families and children, media training, changing social norms and moving communities to social action.
Focus Area Four: Innovations in Prevention- Community and Policy Strategies: This focus area will offer workshops on new and/or innovative work in the prevention field related to the community and policy levels of the social ecology. Possible topics include ACEs, new legislation, child sexual abuse prevention, grassroots community organizing, the Protective Factors Framework, bullying/peer abuse prevention, traumatic brain injury and CAPTA.
While a single proposal may fit in one or two focus areas, our goal is that all workshops presented at the conference pertain to at least one focus area, as well as the following two criteria:
1. Evidence-Based or Evidence-Informed
2. Diversity/Cultural Competence
Kids and Trauma: Science Over Force
CHICAGO, IL, November 2, 2015 – The video showing a school police officer subduing an unyielding adolescent with force is yet another reminder that children act out. Sadly, that’s not news. What is news is that there are alternate, appropriate ways to deal with troubled teens that benefit both the child and the community.
There are a host of reasons why a child might misbehave, and while the details of this young woman’s life are rightfully private, her attorney has made a public statement that she is in foster care and that is a sign that her nuclear family has been unable or unavailable to raise her.
Traumatic childhood experiences are the subject of many studies currently. Findings indicate that these experiences can have both immediate and lifelong effect on social and emotional health. Collectively called “Adverse Childhood Experiences,” or ACEs, these experiences can actually change the chemistry of a child’s brain and can be a cause for dramatic changes in a child’s behavior.
Prevent Child Abuse America recognizes the profound lessons from the ACE studies and has incorporated the findings into our work at every opportunity. We are particularly proud to be the non-profit partner to the producers of the film Paper Tigers, a documentary showing how the lives of troubled teens are changed when their school adopts a trauma–informed approach.
The title comes from a story the science teacher shares with the students when discussing the effect of early trauma on their brain after constantly being exposed to real danger or threats, the brain eventually fails to differentiate between “a paper tiger and a real one.” The result can be kids who lash out or otherwise exhibit terribly inappropriate behaviors.
Trauma-informed schools have moved from asking “what’s wrong with that child?” to “what’s happened to that child?” The school featured in Paper Tigers can be an inspiration and all schools, and communities, can consider taking a similar view to interacting with their students by engaging in the following steps:
(1) Reminding ourselves that one size does not fit all when it comes to students or behavior;
(2) Becoming informed about the ACEs, trauma and how they impact child development and behavior;
(3) Assessing our approach to discipline by asking ourselves whether it is trauma-informed, modeled on what we know about ACEs and based on the simple question, “What’s happened to that child;” and
(4) Recognizing that this is an issue for not only the schools, but the full community, neighbors, houses of worship and business as well.
“I want this moment to be heard as a call to action for schools and communities across the nation,” said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America. “Let’s take advantage of this wonderful new resource, bring Paper Tigers to every community and support developing trauma-informed faculty, staff and police officers in every school district! For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact Prevent Child Abuse America or visit our website for additional resources related to Paper Tigers.”