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How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

by Stevan Weine
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry ()
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Abstract

old, preferably in groups of 10 children. They include a child screening instrument for trau-matic stress. The ways in which Bao glu and alcio glu apply a learning theory approach to mass trauma in developing countries raises some concerns. First, their approach allows considerable slip-page between " effective control strategies to secure safety " and " sense of control over future stressors " (p. 13). The difference between actual safety and sense of safety really does matter. It is not enough to strengthen the sense of safety, especially when you live in a danger zone, and not just in developing countries. Second, the learning theory approach to mass trauma entails a worrisome flattening of experi-ence: just because earthquakes and torture look similar in terms of traumatic stress does not necessarily mean that their consequences or remedies are equivalent. Context matters, as do the myriad interactions between trauma expo-sure and other co-occurring problems such as poverty, discrimination, and forced migration. Yet none are seriously considered, although it is well known that the psychosocial impact of di-sasters on adults and children goes far beyond traumatic stress. Gender, child development, families, and culture are barely discussed, if at all. Resilience is seen as a property of individuals and not of families, communities, institutions, or societies. Third, it's not always so clear that there is much difference between Bao glu and alcio glu's use of science and that of those trauma experts they criticize. Much of the science here is a rationale for why their claims and strategies are reasonable considerations, not a definitive proof that they work. To truly make their case for empowering survivors of mass trauma, they would need to turn to very different theory and research, especially implementation science and community-based participatory research. Building brief, effective, affordable treatments that can be disseminated is an appropriate goal. However, over-relying on universal fixed defini-tions of mass trauma creates constraints that could unintentionally limit the implementation and fulfillment of this goal in complex, real-world locations. In admitting that they haven't yet gathered the evidence that definitively demon-strates that their model empowers and helps survivors of mass trauma and that much more research needs to be done, their book ends on a better note than it begins.

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