Sci-Tea Talks Policy: Childhood exposure to violence and risk for psychopathology

October 15, 2021 Ryan Linn Brown & Dr. Nanci Weinberger Season 1 Episode 2
Sci-Tea Talks Policy: Childhood exposure to violence and risk for psychopathology
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to the second episode of Sci-Tea!

Join us (Nanci and Ryan) in a conversation with Steven Kasparek and Nirva LaFortune about childhood exposure to violence, risk for psychopathology⁠, and how we can support children who have been exposed to violence. We discuss Steven's research on how violence exposure in childhood relates to social information processing biases that can affect how children perceive and react to others. Nirva relates and applies Steven's research to her job as a policy maker, and discusses the demographics and school system in Providence. We all discuss how Covid-19 has had an impact on these topics, and we end the conversation with insights on how everyone can help support children who have been exposed to violence.                             

✨ Steven Kasparek (he/they) is a graduate student at Harvard University pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Science. He graduated Summa Cum Laude (with the highest honors) in Psychology from Middlebury College. Steven has participated in numerous research opportunities at various institutions, including Middlebury College, Stanford, the National Institutes of Health, University of Washington, and now Harvard. Steven's current research interests converge on better understanding factors related to risk for aggressive and self- or other-directed violent behavior in adolescence following experiences of exposure to violence in childhood. He is also interested in how aberrations in reward processing behaviors and neural circuitry may contribute to these associations. You can follow Steven on Twitter @swkasparek

✨ Nirva LaFortune moved to Rhode Island from Haiti when she was three years old. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Temple University and an M.A in Urban Education Policy at Brown University. Currently, Nirva is a Providence City Councilwoman as well as Assistant Director for Scholars Programs and Diversity Initiatives at Brown University. She has over 15 years of experience in academic advising, program management, student recruitment, and community engagement. Some of the topics Nirva advocates for are affordable housing, support for minority and women-owned businesses, community development, prudent financial planning, and increasing transparency and community engagement in municipal affairs. She is also very passionate about having great public schools available for every child as well as making Providence safe for immigrants. Nirva has officially announced her bid to run for Providence mayor in 2022! You can follow Nirva on Twitter @Nirva_LaFortune or on IG @nirvar_lafortune.

Materials Referenced in this Episode:

✨ Check out Steven's poster from the Association for Psychological Science's annual convention:

✨ Check out Nirva's website:

Description of series: Sci-Tea brings behavioral science researchers together with multidisciplinary practitioners and policymakers for open conversations that demonstrate how the value of research can extend far beyond publication. Join Dr. Nanci Weinberger and Ryan Linn Brown in the latest addition to Ryan’s Science, which is a cross-platform science communication outlet that fosters curiosity and excitement around scientific research. Grab your tea (or drink of choice!) and join the conversation! 

[Ryan] hey y'all I’m Ryan 
[Nanci] and I’m Nanci and this is Sci-tea where we bring you engaging conversations between researchers and practitioners 
[Ryan] we feature leading experts as well as early career researchers in psychology and beyond who will be speaking with other professionals working in settings such as hospitals schools and governmental agencies 
[Nanci] so grab your tea 
[Ryan] or drink of choice 
[Nanci] and enjoy the conversation
[Ryan] I just want to start off by saying how excited we are to be joined today by councilwoman Nirva LaFortune and Steven Kasparek so I’ll start by introducing Steven and Steven is a graduate student at Harvard University pursuing his PhD in clinical psychology he graduated with the highest honors in psychology from Middlebury college he has participated in numerous research opportunities at various universities including Middlebury Stanford University of Washington and now Harvard his current research interests converge on better understanding factors related to risk for aggressive and self or other directed violent behavior in adolescence following experiences of exposure to violence in childhood he's also interested in how aberrations and reward processing behaviors and neural circuitry may contribute to these associations and we're so excited to have Steven here so welcome 
[Nanci] and Nirva LaFortune is the providence city councilwoman in fact she is the councilwoman and my own board here in providence Nirva moved to Rhode island from Haiti when she was just three years old and she holds a B.A. in communication from Temple University and a master's in urban education policy from Brown University currently Nirva also serves as assistant director for scholars program and diversity initiatives at Brown University she has over 15 years experience in academic advising program management student recruitment and community engagement some of the topics that Nirva advocates for as a councilwoman are affordable housing support for minority and women-owned businesses support and safety for immigrants community development creating healthy youth environments and having great public schools available for every child Nirva works with other community leaders in the non-violence institute to address issues of violence in our community welcome we're happy to have you here today 
[Nirva] thank you
[Ryan] awesome and we're excited to talk about Steven's research today as well so just to orient everyone to the background on the study in the study Steven and his colleagues investigated how violence exposure in childhood relates to social information processing biases that can affect how children perceive and react to others so they looked at violence exposure and implicit bias specifically in relation to the development of internalizing psychopathology which just means directing a negative affect inwards so maybe experiencing something like depression or anxiety versus directing it outwards and maybe experiencing aggression towards others and they followed 76 children for several years across three time points from about ages five to ten which is such a cool study setup and design and they found that exposure to violence was related to a reduced implicit preference for ones in group and that the reduced preference predicted internalizing symptoms of psychopathology so there were also some meaningful individual differences based on one's implicit and a group bias for novel groups and so this highlights who among those are exposed to violence in childhood who's actually at greater risk of developing these internalizing symptoms and there are so many big picture implications from the study that I’m really excited to get into and we also hope that you feel free to ask each other questions but first Steven I was wondering if you could tell us sort of your biggest takeaway from doing this kind of research and anything that you've learned in the process that you'd like to share 
[Steven] sure yeah I’m happy to speak on that and thanks so much for having me sorry I didn't say that a little sooner I would say that my biggest takeaway from this particular project would probably be like the importance of capturing changes that occur after the violence exposure over kind of a longer time scale so unfortunately with budgeting limitations being what they are for a lot of scientific research and just the feasibility of a lot of studies a lot of people stick with a kind of classic time point 1 time point 2 model for longitudinal data collection where they bring people in at one time point and then they follow up with them maybe six months later or a year later or even two years later and while that is you know that has been the standard for a while and it does give us some really useful information there's only so much you can learn when you have two time points and so luckily in this study we had three time points and even so you know the age range is from five to ten and so a lot is happening between those ages right that we're not capturing but having that third time point does actually afford us the ability to model some changes and trajectories that are slightly more informative so I’ve really come to appreciate the utility of longitudinal data and especially if you can get multiple time points and a more condensed period of time I think that can be really helpful and informative for assessing like which types of changes that are happening across development are actually informing mental health trajectories over the course of development and into adulthood so that is one and in general I would say doing research with violence exposed populations I think one of the things I’ve learned is that there is just a very high degree of kind of unpredictability in doing that research that you have to be prepared for and be very patient with and it can take a really long time to recruit a violence exposed sample for example and that's because these families and these kids are already dealing with so many barriers in their day-to-day lives it's really important to maintain a sense of understanding when you know maybe they need to reschedule a session or you may have to be recruiting for longer than you originally intended because of course in the process of doing research we also wanted to do no harm and to the extent possible help the families that we're working with so I think that's also been a huge teachable moment as well 
[Nanci] I just got to follow up I don't have my next question in mind but just hearing you talk about that Steven with the sample and sort of the honoring the people that you are researching and hopefully you know leading to helping that it is a big investment in that sort of special care and I you know we definitely you know give you credit you and your co-authors credit for putting that investment in that extra time and not doing not doing the quick and dirty kind of study you're just you know taking your time doing that extra data collection over time as well as working with this this vulnerable sample so I give you credit for that but I’m here we're here to ask questions also so maybe you can talk a little bit about why it's important to look at how children you know especially those exposed to violence classify people as being in their own in group versus being in an out group you know the you write or you and your co-authors write a little bit about that important distinction and the distinction for children to be able to make those discriminations can you tell us a little bit more why that's so important 
[Steven] yeah definitely thanks for that question as well so in my view I think it's important because we do already know a couple things to be true that are kind of backed by the scientific literature as well as you know many people's anecdotal and lived experiences and that is that violence exposure is unfortunately quite common among youth not just in our country although that's what this study focused on but you know all over the place all over the globe and that violence exposure is associated with differences and other types of social information processing that are linked with greater risk for trans diagnostic mental health difficulties across development and so intergroup bias while really well-established phenomenon hasn't quite been examined in the context of violence exposure at like a young age let alone how that how differences in intergroup bias might impact mental health down the road and so this kind of felt like a really cool place to start to ask them some new questions because it is bridging a really well established field of kind of social psychology with implicit bias and clinical psychology as well as neuroscience and so we already know that belonging to and feeling connected with an in group is really essential for adaptive and healthy social and emotional functioning across like every developmental stage and the opposite is also true right that not belonging to a group and feeling a sense of connectedness with other people is associated with mental as well as kind of social difficulties as well and you know there is some preliminary evidence that implicit biases can be changed in young children as well coming out of Mazar and Banaji's lab she has a postdoc that has done some really cool work with like preschool aged youth trying to change implicit bias with some success and so if we are able to establish that violence exposure impacts implicit bias in a way that increases risk for mental health difficulties we may be able to design interventions specifically for young people to help kind of shift their biases in a direction that would facilitate more kind of adaptive mental health outcomes later on and to your the other part of your question about why it's not really important to be able to distinguish between an in and out group we can imagine there are lots of kind of evolutionarily conserved answers to that or evolutionarily conserved mechanisms that inform those distinctions part of it is identifying essentially who to invest in right like who are your people who are people that you want to give your time and energy to who are also going to return something back to you and enrich your life so that would be like an in-group and also who to maybe stay away from and so that's part of why I along with my co-authors and others start suspecting that violence exposure might impact this intergroup bias heuristic because you can imagine depending on who's perpetrating the violence that it might muddy your kind of these neat schemas about who is in group and who is out group and particularly for young people in our sample a lot of the violence was perpetrated by in group who people who we would call in group members so caregivers or other kind of close adults and so that might be part of why we're seeing a little bit of what we're calling ambiguity around classifying in group from out group members 
[Nanci] that's really helpful thank you I’m wondering if I wonder if Nirva if sort of this this concept that Steven's talking about kind of speaks to you your ideas about creating a more healthy environments for our youth in the community you know there's so many so many different tax I’m sure ways in to that but you know does this idea of in-group or out-group does that resonate at all or is that something sort of like is that maybe a new way of thinking about that within the community and I don't mean to just throw that at you but just I’m just wondering how do we translate this into what's going on in our own communities 
[Nirva] I do think it does it does resonate you know I was thinking to myself huh does this mean that there is like a correlation between young people who are exposed to violence and perhaps being having a higher likelihood of joining a gang because that would be considered I guess part of the in group because of these stereotyped threats but also thinking about a group of people that you can relate to that you have shared unfortunately although it's a traumatic experience but have shared experience and so just thinking about the interventions and also normalizing social emotional support at a very young age how critical that is because then and Steve please Steven please answer you know correct me because I’m just you know basing this on what you're saying but I also wonder how that intervention and providing more social emotional support can actually help not only help young people navigate these traumatic experience but also identify that or you know identify that this is not normal and this is not okay and this is a form of trauma because what I’ve seen and also heard from you know people that I speak to from marginalized communities people from communities that I grew up in is that sometimes it's hard to recognize that this is trauma because you're so used to seeing or being exposed is this level of violence whether it's from the in group and it could be close family members it could be friends people within your community caregivers or from the out group so in many ways it it's just it's normalized and so you have generations of people who are exposed to violence and also who choose to join certain groups so that groups that they feel like they can relate to or have some sort of common experience or connection with 
[Steven] I think that's a really excellent point actually like over identifying with traumatic experiences in the past and using those as a tool to bond with other people can certainly lead to outcomes that we don't want such as you said you know becoming gang involved which could lead to becoming justice involved harming other people ultimately harming oneself and so I think the thing that you're pointing out about providing socio-emotional support early on and normalizing that and especially in communities where violence is higher which of course is a systemic issue right violence doesn't just come out of nowhere it comes out in times of resource scarcity it comes out in times of outside aggressors coming into a community and creating a violent culture and so in those communities where there's that and then there's also intergenerational kind of passing down of this normative violence amongst you know family members or other community members I think it is really important to normalize that especially in those contexts it's important to normalize everywhere but I just wanted to kind of upvote what you said because I think it's so such an important piece and obviously my studies just providing or our study I should say is providing just like one very small sliver of a glimpse at something that might be going on under the hood as far as like a mechanism but there would be we would want to approach this from so many different angles as far as like providing support to people ultimately to provide like or facilitate better outcomes in the future
[Nanci] a wonderful connection and I love that point about the idea of enrolling in gangs or becoming a gang member that is you know not ambiguous about your membership you know and so I think that is a great connection Steven you also just now mentioned you know the point about you know violence isn't coming out of you know nowhere comes from all these different sources and one of the things that we've been asking some of our guests it has to do with the pandemic you know because whatever we're talking about it intersects with the pandemic and I’m just wondering and either of you can you know speak to this what you think how you think the pandemic may be impacting children and families that you know how is it exacerbating the impact of violence exposure in their lives or impacting violence itself in their lives any thoughts about that either of you if you want to jump in 
[Steven] I will defer to councilwoman LaFortune to start I definitely have thoughts but I would love to hear yours first 
[Nirva] well I mean thank you Steven well Steven brought you know the first like one of the points he brought up is you know just thinking about you know what are the root causes of violence scarcity aggressors coming into the communities some of the challenges that the in on the pandemic has imposed on marginalized communities are not nothing new they existed because of you know structural racism within our communities within our country I mean you create communities of one we could use Providence as an example Providence although it's a city of a little over 183000 people it's a very segregated city we see a lot of concentrated poverty we also see the disparities within our educational system we live in a city where you have folks that are super affluent but yet the medium income household is about 40000 per year and that might be a bit skewed and when you add a more affluent community it's only about 60000 per year and so unfortunately what the pandemic did was just elevate these issues and people are finding themselves in more desperate circumstances that's causing people to do things and also add on compound mental health right mental and behavioral health where folks are not they are not getting the access that they would normally get particularly our youth in the schools when they were there or at a community center or after school program and even the schools have limited resources because not every school has a school psychologist or social worker and so now we're seeing I mean just throughout the country the influx of violence everywhere where there is people are coping with trauma that they're witnessing trauma from parents and family members relatives caregivers who were exposed to covet and some lost their lives and they're reacting to that and then there's survival where people are doing what they need to do just to put food on the table and so there are a lot of factors that have played a role in what we're seeing now and it's the increase of violence throughout the nation but I do believe that at some point even if the pandemic didn't have to happen today we would see like this burst right because there's just so much inequity within our communities I mean just thinking about access to mental health last week I sat on a panel because the month of July was minority mental health awareness month and that's the theme that came up the most was not having access to behavioral mental health services or even if you're someone experiencing a crisis a lot of times family members or people in the community won't even call for help because of fear of being criminalized for that or when someone is picked up maybe by EMT or the ambulance for whatever the circumstance might be they might be brought to a hospital and let's say they're intoxicated they sober up no one's connecting them with for with continued care or services and so what ends up happening it's the same people who experience these traumatic things and so I mean all of this that's happening it's nothing new and what we do need to get to is the core root of the issues is why are people from certain communities experiencing these levels of violence and trauma more than others and so we know that education is a key so why not invest in our public schools to make sure that everyone has access to a quality education regardless of what neighborhood they live in why not invest more in our public health infrastructure so that we have community centers and I’m a big advocate of community centers because I was undocumented until I was a teenager so from the time I came to America until I graduated from high school my doctor's office was from the community health center on Cranston street and so and back then there wasn't even mental health services and now they're starting to place them inside the community centers but even that if you have insurance sometimes your insurance limits the amount of appointments you can you can have or your co-pay is significantly higher which is again it's all these are all various forms of disparities so I think part of the issue is just making more resources more accessible so that if there is a pandemic like this that occurs in the future that all communities have the resources and tools to weather it but right now they don't and that's why we've seen this this again this burst and people are struggling in so many ways financially emotionally they're just they're struggling and there just isn't enough investment in our public health public education mental health housing infrastructure across the board so systemic racism that's what's playing the role right and that's what's causing all of these inequities
[Steven] yeah and I would I’ll just add a few things briefly but there's not much to add I mean I completely agree with councilwoman LaFortune’s take on what's going on it's definitely not new and I really like the kind of illustration of this as like a bursting and I agree that the pandemic has essentially just exacerbated existing inequalities that are just a consequence of racism and systemic inequality that's been really affecting you know the country and the world for that matter for a long a long time I will add a few pieces that we've learned from some other research that we've done because we have also been doing a Covid follow-up a series of Covid follow up studies with another cohort we've done searched with prior to video the reason that significance because we've been at you know 5 points of data prior to Covid and make kind of pre-Covid post Covid comparisons to see like are the factors that are really contributing the pre-existing factors as well as like onset factors that are contributing to changes in mental health and as the councilwoman said there are so many different factors to consider in addition to the fact that every that there are many fewer like resources available than there are people who need them and I totally agree that we need to have more investment there are also like family dynamics and this really points to the intergenerational piece so one of our studies kind of found that parental mental health during the pandemic was actually a huge mediator of child mental health outcomes and the relationship between that and pandemic stressors so if you have a parent who isn't coping well which in all likelihood is a consequence of all the same things not having access to resources or not having the money to pay the copay not having the time because of needing to work long hours or multiple jobs to take care of a family in the during the pandemic to get help for themselves and so that it impacts the child kind of directly and indirectly directly because the parent might have a shorter fuse you know they might just be a little more reactive to their child than they would normally be because of the stress they feel and indirectly because the child is kind of subconsciously learning unfortunately unhealthy ways to cope with stress so that is one area that has really impacted families as well as there are tensions being created as well as existing tensions within families being stoked by the pressures of the pandemic that have created additional violence within families where you know everyone's or a lot of families are having people at home together a lot who are not normally at home together a lot and if there is existing conflicts that conflict is only going to be exacerbated and if there was no conflict the opportunity for a conflict to arise is just higher 
[Nanci] By the way both of you speaking not just of the child but the family and the community and they are always going to be interrelated and we you know sometimes with research we just sort of focus on one and it's really the interconnections amongst all of those players that are that are so significant 
[Nirva] well also like when you we think about you are a product of your community 
[Nanci] yes 
[Nirva] and so just going back to Steven's point about you know the direct and the indirect impact and also just the families the thing like the family dynamic it makes a lot of sense because if you're living in a high stress environment and also you're learning these behaviors you become a product unless there's outside intervention that teaches you another approach or another way another approach or resources to help you navigate things a bit differently that's what you know and that is the those are the lessons I guess or the mechanisms that you'll adapt to just based on those personal experiences and exposure so I mean we do need to think about the environments that we're raising our kids I mean just like there's studies that tell you there's a correlation between academic achievement and the conditions of the schools and the environment that the student is learning in so if the school is clean and safe welcoming and has bright walls those students tend to do better academically same thing at home if you're living in a space where there's the stress level is constantly high which happens quite often in households where people do not have the luxury of having like support in in in the house or not having to work in the evenings or having money wealth or an education and so you learn to cope with things in a way that's not very healthy and that has long-term impact on the student like long-term social impact and also just every day like academic work just behavioral aspects of their lives so it's again it's back to the you are a product of your environment 
[Steven] I totally agree and I think one of the really important things for us to do ultimately at the community level is to really destigmatize that all of these families within a community are they're just adapting they're doing exactly what they're supposed to do which is adapt to their situation try to do the best that they can and in lieu of again outside help coming in and maybe tweaking things and saying like it's okay to feel overwhelmed and stressed and to not know where to turn next you're dealing with a lot also we can't deal with it in this way and here's why because it creates a ripple effect within not only your home but in the community I think normalizing that everyone is trying their best to adapt and that it's no one's fault that maybe their way of adapting is slightly leading to some negative like mental health outcomes for them and or their children or anything else but normalizing that first is one of the first steps to having people actually be willing to reach out and receive care because councilwoman LaFortune made this point earlier a lot of families who do who live in communities where they experience violence or they are under resource they're afraid to seek services that could ultimately be very beneficial because of stigma and it's not for no reason that's the other thing that's really important to normalize you know children are taken away by the state from families of color and under-resourced families at much higher rates than white families who are similarly under resourced for example so it's not for no reason that these families might feel scared to seek help but we gotta normalize it amongst everyone that everyone's trying and we need to be better about giving them the resources to make better choices 
[Nirva] yeah and Steven I just want to add also on culture so I grew up in an immigrant family and culturally you don't talk about mental health in fact people would rather in my culture I think about stories that have been shared about people I’ve known or even family members and it's like oh it was voodoo but you're like no that's mental health right so it's like this mystic thing that you actually can get help for but no one wants to talk about it because culturally it's not it's not normal it's not normalized and I always I’ve shared this in the past how within even my own like family how my brother in many ways has helped my brother struggles with mental health my brother has been hospitalized and I still remember my we went to see my brother in the hospital and my brother telling my son listen your uncle has mental health like I struggle with mental health and he broke down his diagnosis and he just said it and to his nephew and we never talked about that in my house and just thinking about even my mother having five children and two of her pregnancies being very traumatic or my dad escaping Haiti during a time of dictatorship or even me being separated from my family because my parents I did not get immigration paperwork and my parents had to make the difficult decision of leaving their toddler behind what there's a military coup and so it's in many cultures when you talk about mental health or your emotions it's sometimes seen as a sign of weakness or it's not normal because it's so not normal that it has to be some sort of like mystical thing that's causing it and so we just don't talk about it or I grew up in a Christian council my dad's a deacon and you know there are many immigrant communities that grow up in you know that people have strong religious beliefs and it's well we're gonna take it to god right we'll pray about this and that will be resolved and yes let's pray about it but also god provided like the resources and the tools and the services we also have to you know take advantage of those things as well so destigmatizing and in the intervention also has to happen in those community centers that people are going to whether it's like a actual community center in the neighborhood the churches in the libraries but places that people go to for resources and services we need to get people in the leaders to talk about this so that people become more comfortable sharing their challenges and if they don't want to share their challenge what they're going through but at least at least having the courage to if there is some sort of resource whether it's counseling whether it's just kind of this yoga right in the classroom or learning how to just stop and take deep breaths when you're feeling overwhelmed we just need to normalize it but these conversations have to happen in spaces that people go to or are exposed to in order for it to happen so we can't just talk about it online or you know through a zoom call or in these meetings and sometimes it's also quite intimidating when people come into a space where it's mostly scholars who are having these conversations they don't always understand the problem or this is a you know this is not a black problem or immigrant issue and we just need to normalize it in in those spaces and also go into those community entities 
[Ryan] absolutely and I just want to touch on something y'all both touched on there but within the just the realm of normalizing and I think Steven you were getting at this it's just how that response of like more adept threat detection is so adaptive if you're in this environment where you need to be attending to threats whether they are to your mental or physical health right and so I think that that to me is always I like that framing of like stepping back and being like you're having this reaction but this is the context in which you're having this reaction and you can see that this is not a bad reaction this is not a not normal reaction right and again just like situating it within the context that you're responding to and developing these and I totally agree about the family systems and how that's modeled and just the importance of I think in psychology we focus so much on the individual but the importance of really stepping back and focusing on the larger context as well as the intergenerational trauma that's been perpetuated so and how that affects threat detection as well as just how you navigate those close relationships and can you trust the people who are who are supposed to be there for you and then the other thing that really stood out to me from this last few minutes was just then on the coping side right of if you haven't been given these tools to cope with this trauma right then you turn to what reduces negative affect what reduces your bad feelings as quickly as possible which is often not the best long-term solution so I think that it comes back and I’ve been thinking about this so much more lately but just to like how early we teach coping mechanisms and like how to really regulate our emotions in a healthy way and at what age you're exposed to different substances that make it so that you can completely dissociate from those experiences right so I there was a lot wrapped up in there but I just really appreciated this conversation and the nuance in that it is an adaptive response and just figuring out how to sort of get a handle on it to where it's an adaptive response for you and you can feel like you can actually handle it in your normal life and that that was like a summary or like extension but I just love this conversation 
[Steven] yeah and just like agree with you I think your point about really needing to teach young people as early as possible these things is like absolutely spot on and I was just talking I do clinical work as well as part of my degree and so I was talking to some of my fellow clinicians at my practicum placement recently and we were just talking about the power of teaching young people like young children the utility of their emotions like I was certainly never told like you feel sad and like this is what sadness or you know when I’ve expressed sadness like you know this is what sadness is and sadness serves a purpose and it's to sit emotions so that other people see them and come closer to you and hold you and make you feel better and you feel anxious and this is why this is the function that anxiety serves and so really normalizing that you know each emotion is necessary I think about that movie inside out which I’m sure maybe a lot of you have seen but you need sadness just as much as happiness and then you know teaching coping mechanisms appropriately but I just wanted to highlight that point
[Nanci] you know I know we are running close to our end of our time but what you're bringing up speaks to something that I was hoping we would get to is to get your both of your insights about how we can support children's resilience who have endured some violence and exposure to violence either as themselves or witness 
[Steven] yeah my suggestions would be fairly straightforward or at least they sound straightforward but in practice might be like a little more difficult and those suggestions would be first and foremost to try to listen so for kids to first know that there's a problem we have to like listen to find out that something has maybe happened or that maybe a child has experienced something that they find to be upsetting or traumatic so you know checking normalizing checking in with your kids even if you feel like you know you have a day-to-day life that's somewhat like straightforward and structured I’m just checking in on them to make sure that they're okay because I think sometimes it's learned just to deal with things so checking in on your kids if they do decide to share something with you really listen to them in the fullest and try to understand their perspective trying to connect kids with resources as early as possible if possible when they do let you know that you know they may be feeling a deep sadness or something close to anxiety or anything else or if they've experienced violence in any area of their life it'd be really great to get them into services with someone and I think kind of not changing your perception of the child in question or the youth in question I think a lot of times youth fear telling like their parents or someone close to them about a traumatic event or violence because they worry that it will change that person's perception of who they are they might view them as weak or they might have they might even blame them for not stopping it if it's like sexual violence or something like that so making it clear that no matter what they tell you you're always going to be on their side and you're never going to judge them I think is also super helpful in getting youth to open up and be vulnerable so that help can be found 
[Nanci] thanks for those insights Nirva do you want to chime in
[Nirva] sure my insight one I agree with everything that's Steven said but he's also the researcher so he's done all the necessary research to back this up but I also think that the onus shouldn't just be on the young person and the families but we should also think about what are some trainings that need to happen within the schools within job settings within communities to ensure that when students leave the home or when the young people leave the home when they're in school and they are feeling emotional they're not being penalized for it because there have been research that have come out that have shown how black and brown boys they'll have more disciplinary infractions in their middle age years and then black and it has been happening for black girls over the course of the years and it's also based on colorism as well like the darker you are the more likely you'll have some sort of discipline infraction and so we need to make sure that we're allocating as leaders political leaders administrators in the schools taxpayers that we are getting the funding that's needed to support the local entities and the public entities like public health our community centers our mental health crisis response like type initiatives but we also need to make sure that teachers people who are engaging with these young people can recognize trauma and also know how to respond to it in an affirming way so that these young people are not afraid to talk about these things or because they have like a breakdown of any sort that someone's not going to send them to the principal they're going to get suspended and that could be a learning opportunity to unless you know they're going to cause harm to other themselves or others of course you need a certain level of help but there has to also be strategies to support our youth when they're in these spaces and again that's part of normalizing it across the board and just finally more investment in public health infrastructure and also when we talk about public health we also talk about mental and behavioral health as part of that because although it's part of public health we don't always associate mental and behavioral health as part of the public health infrastructure so we do need to make sure that we're seeing the need for it and behavioral mental health can also cause other like physical health issues as well and finally when we talk about and Steven mentioned you know having the tools and resources but we also need to teach people how to use those tools and resources because a lot of times we do have a lot of information or resources available but no one knows how to access it and no one knows how to use it so I think also being very explicit about these resources and how they can be used and also being flexible understanding there's a level of cultural competency that's incorporated in all of that and everything so that we can adapt these resources to individuals needs cultures backgrounds and finally just policy we need to make sure that we're passing legislation that acknowledges this and that also supports these types of initiatives to better support our youth our families our communities
[Nanci] fantastic Ryan
[Ryan] I was just thinking about sort of like big takeaways and I feel like what I over all learned or was like emphasized today and I pull it back to money and funding and for research as well as for good interventions down the line I think when Steven was describing at the beginning just that the investment both time and financially that you need to have to do research that is again like further from just in a lab environment like we need to be able to support that kind of research better and then also be able to implement it and really give the funding to all the different bodies that can help with addressing mental health with it for kids and so I think that comes back to me of like it's not a thing that an individual can really do themselves right so it comes back to we need the structural support and specifically financial support for research and then also potential intervention work as well and you all are doing the good work
[Nanci] and we we're so glad we were able to get you together and we will be sharing this I’m going out of focus and but we want to thank you so much for both being here today we appreciate it I’ve learned a lot I’m sure Ryan has as well and thank you so much for your time for your insights and I’m sure that I’m going to be thinking a lot more about this as even as we close our conversation so thanks again for joining us today 
[Ryan] yeah thank you both 
[Steven] and thank you for having us I had a wonderful time it's really nice to be able to come together to talk about these things and especially with people who are actually out there advocating for policy change and who are like doing the really important work of being on the ground in the community advocating for our families so thank you councilwoman 
[Nirva] thank you thank you Steven for all the like research you're doing I mean this is what informs the policy and also informs how money should be allocated so just thank you for that groundwork thank you Ryan and thank you so much Nanci and both you and Ryan for creating this series and I do hope that there's more of this and please share some of the all of them with me so that I can also circulate as well so thank you and Steven I would just love to invite you to this community meeting that I’m planning on living I will send you a follow-up email 
[Steven] please do yeah please do I love it I would love to attend 
[Nirva] yeah this is this is great we're I’m in the process of planning a town hall meeting to talk about the influx of violence but and I already said like I don't want it to be just a bunch of politicians like giving statements I would love to talk about some solutions but I think if you were there and can provide us with like an overview of your research that could kind of ground the direction that the conversation could go towards so and it also might be a good opportunity just to talk to people and learn more like get some more information about some of the things that people have experienced so anyway I will send a follow-up 
[Steven] yes I look forward to that and I also want to thank you ryan and Nanci for including me in the series like I said before I think it's amazing what you're doing Ryan with the help of Nanci and I look forward to seeing the finished product and to being in touch with you councilwoman as well 
[Nirva] thank you 
[Nanci] sounds great 
[Ryan] thanks y'all