A conceptual model for building Trauma-Informed Schools, Homes and Communities
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The Crisis

The most dangerous weapon of mass destruction is child abuse. And, we are all responsible…in order to stop the violence, we need to expand our understanding of child abuse.

Honor Kids International is a non-profit organization whose vision is to prevent and eliminate child abuse. My hope is that my passion is contagious and that it inspires you to see differently. After years of private practice as a counselor, I realized people suffer primarily from, what Indigenous people call, a Spiritual Malady: a disconnection from the animating principle or the vital essence of life. When one is disconnected from this spontaneous and life giving source, the separation is experienced psychologically as death. A spiritual malady is a progressive dis-ease that often manifests in the forms of aggressive and compulsive behavior. Aggression, as in violence, or compulsion as in addiction, both serve as substitute forms of connection. Although these substitute forms of connection de-power rather than empower a person, human beings are social animals and our need for connection is vital.

How does a Spiritual Malady develop? What I have found as the origin of spiritual maladies, my daughter Anne coined as Infected Belief Systems (IBS). Infected belief systems are complex and personal reactions to overwhelming experiences that impair the mental, emotional, and physical functioning of a person. The mind (neo cortex) experiences IBS as persistent harmful or threatening patterns of thought. The emotional (limbic system) experience is an internal state of anxiety fueled by unconcious fear and shame. And the physical (reptilian brain) experience is involuntary and reocurring sensations in the body, the residue of unresolved trauma. If infected belief systems are left untreated, this attack on the self leaves one feeling powerless and disconnected. This human condition motivates many manifestations of aggressive and compulsive behavior (Violence and Addiction).

IBS are passed down intergenerationally and they are shaped by family and cultural practices that are rooted in fear and shame. Some are passed down consciously and with intent, but often IBS are the result of unconscious internalization. Any system of belief that objectifies human value teaches practices of separation and therefore imprints fear and shame. For instance, racism and sexism are IBS and wherever you find these infected beliefs, you will witness varying levels of aggression and compulsion.

History repeats itself because consciousness repeats itself. Before we can create a Culture of Peace, we have to have a Language of Peace … and before we can create a Language of Peace, we have to understand that our current discourse supports a Culture of Violence.

According to a report in U.S. News & World Report, on April 9 2001, “child abuse costs this country upward of $94 billion every year, or $258 million a day… this analysis only shows the bare minimum of what is happening out there.” This is an indictment against our current systems of belief taught in the arenas of education, medicine, psychology, justice and religion.

We are doing something dramatically wrong. This problem will progressively worsen unless we join together in a common goal to understand, reeducate and eliminate the culture of child abuse.

Major sources of spending*:

  • Hospitalization $17 million
  • Mental health/healthcare $12.7 million
  • Child welfare $39.5 million
  • Juvenile delinquency $24 million
  • Adult Criminality $152 million

*Source: Prevent Child Abuse America.

It appears the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction are spiritual maladies.

For a downloadable pdf of my complete speech, please click here.