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Kids and Trauma: Science over Force

As we have all likely seen the footage from a South Carolina High School depicting a case of “discipline,” where a school police officer used significant force to subdue a teacher, we want to share the below from Prevent Child Abuse America discussion the important and timely issues of kids and trauma.

Please click here for the original post on the PCAA website. 

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.”

National Pinwheel Garden

Prevent Child Abuse America Planted More Than 1,000 Pinwheels Today at Washington Monument to Celebrate Great Childhoods!


Today Prevent Child Abuse America and its Virginia and Maryland chapters celebrated the great childhoods that all children deserve with a “National Pinwheel Garden” by planting more than 1,000 pinwheels near the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.


The public and members of event partners General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Sigma Delta Tau, Kappa Delta and Chartwells K12 were invited to celebrate the people who helped them enjoy great childhoods by having pinwheels planted in their honor in the National Pinwheel Garden.


“The pinwheel allows us to engage people in a new way,” said Prevent Child Abuse America President & CEO James M. Hmurovich. “It provides us with an engaging device to move beyond merely making people aware of child abuse prevention, but motivating them to take action on its behalf. From acts big and small, from providing busy parents with a break to signing onto letters to Congress, each of us can, and must, play a role in ensuring great childhoods for our nation’s children. This event in the nation’s capital is one more way to convey that message to the country.”


Individuals who also believe every child deserves a great childhood because our children are our future can make a gift today!DC pinwheel money shot

Volunteer Spotlight

me from facebook for PCAV Volunteer blog

Jacob Neff Volunteer Spotlight: Like Father, Like Son

            Jacob Neff had seen the passion in his father’s eyes, PCAV Board Member Brad Neff, long before he joined us this past summer as a Public Relations intern. For the past 8 years he saw the passion his father had and felt that he wanted to give back as well. When he learned of PCAV’s need for a Public Relations Intern, he jumped at the chance.  He felt that the experience would be something he would never forget, as well as something that would prepare him for an incredible career in the Public Relations field. Jacob is now a freshman at Bridgewater College studying marketing and public relations.

Once he began to work at PCAV, he soon experienced the very same connection his father had experienced with the organization. Jacob stated that, “not only is Prevent Child Abuse Virginia an incredible place to volunteer, but also an incredible place to learn.” He continued,  “during my time as a Public Relations Intern, I learned more about child abuse prevention than I had ever imagined possible, and this knowledge will be used throughout my lifetime to ensure that the world’s children may enjoy the best parts of being young and energetic, while they are still at the age at which they can fully enjoy it.”

Jacob’s favorite part about being a PCAV volunteer was the sense of accomplishment and a job well done that he received at the conclusion of each work day. He quickly came to realize that for those who work to protect the childhoods of Virginia’s children, and the childhoods of children around the world, there is always work to be done.

All of the staff at PCAV are incredibly grateful for Jacob’s dedication to the mission this past summer. Jacob updated all of our social media accounts throughout the summer, created infographics, made adjustments to the PCAV website, along with many other activities. We have no doubt that Jacob will continue to do incredible things with his life.

If you are interested in volunteering with us, please fill out a volunteer application here.

Press Release: Gold Festival on Broad to Benefit PCAV

Press Release Gold Festival (1)

This Father’s Day Give Dad a Gift From the Heart with “Ties for a Cause”

Father’s Day is almost here (June 21!) and if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift for that special Dad in your life, we’ve got you covered!
Give Dad a tie from the “Ties for a Cause” collection, and support Prevent Child Abuse Virginia’s mission of providing Great Childhoods for all children.
Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA) and Ties.com  collaborated with professional athletes to present “Ties for a Cause”.   NBA stars Chris Paul, Ronny Turiaf, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, and NFL star Lawrence Jackson have teamed up to bring awareness to child abuse prevention with five unique designs that reflect their unique style.
Each one of these limited edition ties features a personal touch with hand-numbered tags and labels containing the PCAA logo along with “Inspired by…” (i.e.Chris Bosh).
Ties can be purchased for only $25 each and all proceeds from this Father’s Day campaign will benefit Prevent Child Abuse Virginia.
When you purchase one of these limited edition ties,  you are not only giving a stylish gift, but also helping keep children safe from abuse and neglect.  

Scroll down to check out the beautiful designs and then fill out the order form.   All ties will be shipped in a custom box along with the numbered card providing more information about the significance of the gift.  You also have the option to enter a personalized message for us to include with the gift!

*In order to be received by Father’s Day, all orders must be received by Tuesday, June 16th.   
*For more information please contact Julie Antrim at jantrim@pcav.org.  
Please send completed order forms via FAX, 804.359.5065 or EMAIL, JANTRIM@PCAV.ORG
To place order via phone, please contact Julie Rivnak-McAdam at (804) 359-6166 x:311

Press Release: PCAV Holds Press Conference to Kick-Off April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

Press Release Press Conference FinalDOWNLOAD A PDF OF PRESS RELEASE HERE. 


Press Release: PCAV Updates Logo to Pinwheel to kick-off Child Abuse Prevention Month





 Click here to learn all about our new logo!


Wear Blue Day 2015!

wear blue


PLEDGE TO WEAR BLUE on April 13th to show your commitment to keep kids safe!


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National Coalition Press Release_2015

A bill regarding the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools.

An autistic 9 year old boy was repeatedly trapped in a converted supply closet by his principal. He begged his parents not to send him back to school.

Testimony like this, and others deemed “horror stories,” by one Senator, were heard by the Virginia State Senate on Tuesday. Lawmakers were voting on a bill that would require the Board of Education to adopt regulations on the use of seclusion and restraint in public schools in the Commonwealth.

It was stories like these, of children locked in dark closets and makeshift holding cells, and forcibly restrained by duct tape, that led the Virginia Commission on Youth to issue a study on the use of restraint and seclusion by public schools in our Commonwealth. The study found that though there are 19 states with policies and procedures related to the use of restraint and seclusions for all children and 32 states with policies related to use of restraint and seclusion for children with disabilities, Virginia is 1 of 10 states with only informal guidelines for the establishment of restraint and seclusion policies in local school districts. These guidelines were not mandatory and merely provided suggestions as to how policies surrounding the use of restraint and seclusion should be formed.

This study led to the creation of the bill discussed on Tuesday. This bill would require the board of education to adopt regulations on the use of seclusion and restrain in public elementary and secondary schools in the commonwealth. The bill requires that such regulations incorporate certain existing guidance documents; include definitions of terms, criteria for use, restrictions for use, training requirements, notifications requirements, reporting requirements, and follow up requirements; and address distinctions between certain student populations.

The Bill passed easily in both the Senate and the House. The next step will be for the Governor to sign it.

Read more on this issue:

Editorial from Richmond Times-Dispatch

Press Release from the Virginia Commission on Youth