Adverse Childhood Experiences and Restorative Practices

Logan Endow
Logan Endow, Executive Director, Restorative Schools Maryland

An epidemiological study comprising more than 10,000 participants surveyed American adults to gauge their exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences ranging from extreme poverty to alcoholism in the family. The study found that adults who tested in the highest category of adverse childhood experiences, compared to those who had none, had a sevenfold increased likelihood of alcoholism and a tenfold increased likelihood of drug injection. Adverse childhood experiences also had statistically significant impacts on cancer and heart disease when all other risk factors were controlled for (1). 

Children living with trauma  have higher rates of absenteeism, are more likely to display disruptive/aggressive behavior and to be suspended, have lower academic performance as a population than students without a history of trauma(2). 

Schools play a critical role  in recognizing and helping to heal childhood trauma. Often, schools only address disruptive children and overlook children who suffer in silence. Restorative practices help to create a school climate where children are comfortable sharing what goes on in their lives. This method acts as a form of psychosocial first aid by giving children a platform to process their trauma and seek communion with their school community. It also helps to identify students who need more extensive support whether it’s social workers or nurses at school based health centers.