‘Building a National Movement’ workshops seek to prevent childhood trauma

More than 2500 people are registered for the Building the Movement workshops

by Sarah Pellis, PRC Communications Intern  

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The public is invited to a series of free online workshops titled “Building a National Movement to Prevent Trauma and Foster Resilience” taking place every other Friday through April 15. It is presented by the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives (NPSC), the Campaign for Trauma-informed Policy and Practice, and PACEs Connection.  

“We are building a movement because we want reduce children’s exposure to trauma,” said Diana Fishbein, NPSC president and event organizer. “The time is now to build a national movement to put scientific knowledge to work in the many sectors of our communities where it can make the most difference.”  

According to Fishbein, these traumas range from those experienced within the home (e.g., child maltreatment and neglect, domestic violence, caregiver mental illness, substance abuse or incarceration) to structural causes (e.g., systemic racism and discrimination, abuse within child welfare systems, poverty, deprivation).  

Workshop participants can learn how to activate and equip local coalitions, how to pivot existing coalitions to pay attention to trauma specifically, and put more of their energy and investment into trauma-informed practices, Fishbein said.  

To date, more than 2,600 people have registered for the workshops, including experts in research, community coalitions, education, health care, child welfare and justice, faith-based communities, foundations, policy development and the private sector. To register, visit the NPSC website.  

“A comprehensive approach is needed to bridge the divide across sectors in our communities so that all child-serving and public health systems are working in concert to provide a safe and healthy environment for children and families,” Fishbein said.  

Moving communities to prevent childhood trauma  

“An important concept for us is that we really have a whole-child approach, a whole-family approach, a whole-community approach that involves collaboration and integration,” Fishbein explained.  

Fishbein said that assisting communities with implementing evidence-based interventions is critical because interventions implemented with fidelity have the potential to normalize neurodevelopmental trajectories for children, leading to better mental and behavioral health outcomes.  

Fishbein noted that prevention science has amassed a huge body of knowledge about the impacts of trauma on child development and their ability to meet developmental milestones.  

“The time is now for prevention science. Everybody should care about the conditions under which children live, where they play, where they go to school,” Fishbein said. “I think that is common amongst us -- with all of our individual differences and political leanings is that we care about our children. When you speak about the need for healthy child development and what it takes to get there it just resonates with everybody.”  

Fishbein is a research professor of human development and family studies at Penn State and director of the Program of Translational Research on Adversity and Neurodevelopment in the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. She is also the director of translational neuro-prevention research at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.