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Shelby County Schools preparing teachers to help students deal with adverse childhood experiences

The CDC said women and minorities are at greater risk of having experienced four or more types of ACEs.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Children often deal with traumatic events or experiences like abuse and neglect that can lead to issues in adulthood or even health conditions. 

Just over the weekend, kids who were playing at Incredible Pizza in Cordova were nearby when shots rang out. On Saturday, a child was shot in the Whitehaven area.

Shelby County Schools, a trauma responsive district, is preparing teachers to help their student deal with experiencing violence.  

“We started with educating our teachers and administrators on what adverse childhood experiences are and how they impact children as far as their brain development as well as their behavior,” said Dr. Angela Hargrave, who is the executive director of SCS’ Student Equity Enrollment and Discipline (S.E.E.D.) Office.

Jadon Knox, Kelby Shorty - the list goes on of the kids in Memphis who have lost their lives to gun violence, leaving their close childhood friends to learn too soon what it means for a young life to be cut short.

“We know pretty much that any time we turn on the news there’s been some sort of tragedy or event that involves children or youngsters,” said Dr. Hargrave. “They’re usually some of our students or someone that our students know.”

But when it comes to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), shootings are not the only traumas kids live through. Past abuse, neglect, and growing up in a home with substance abuse and mental health problems need support too. 

“A parent maybe experiencing mental health syndromes, an incarcerated parent. Also violence in the home,” said Natasha Bonner of Youth Villages. She works as a supervisor of specialized crisis services.

The CDC said women and minorities are at greater risk of having experienced four or more types of ACEs.

They can have long lasting negative effects on health, well-being and job potential. 

“If there’s a community basketball game, or a mentor in the community, or even a church friend that a parent feels comfortable with their child having, we try to incorporate protective factors to eliminate toxic stress that negative factors can present,” Bonner said.

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