We’re learning a lot lately about how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) deeply affect children’s brain development, behavior, and emotional, mental, and physiological health outcomes both while they’re in school and later in life. ACEs impact people’s ability to self-regulate and form healthy relationships, and they impair learning.
Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Bruce Perry has found that when ACEs are addressed properly, the brain and body can repair and heal, lessening those negative emotional, mental, and physiological health outcomes.
Children and adolescents spend an average of 1,000 hours a year in school, interacting not just with teachers but also with bus drivers, instructional assistants, administrators, counselors, social workers, security officers, and custodial and cafeteria staff. When these interactions are guided by the goal of helping students form positive attachments and relationships, they can increase the relational wealth and well-being of our most troubled children and adolescents. Perry emphasizes the importance of both the quality and quantity of these social connections, or touch points.
What are touch points? Interactions with individuals we trust, who see and notice our strengths, interests, passions, and challenges, and who understand us, affirming our stories, our belief systems, and the cultures in which we have developed.
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