Documentary Films | 2016 | 60 minutes
Stranger Says: When you were a kid, did your parents fight? Did you move a lot? Did your parents hit you? Did they hit each other? It's taken science a long time to catch up, but doctors have recently discovered that the answers to questions like these play an enormous role in a person's risk for disease later in life—or even early death. The more kids are subjected to toxic stress, life events that constantly trigger their fight or flight responses, the more that toxic stress will directly impact the structure of a child's growing brain. Our culture spends billions of dollars a year treating addiction and cardiovascular disease, but what would happen if we shifted to focus on preventing it in the first place by making sure our kids feel safe? This documentary explores that question, and it's one we should all be asking. (SYDNEY BROWNSTONE)
SIFF Says:Last year, SIFF presented documentarian James Redford’s Paper Tigers, which followed six troubled students at Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla as they took part in a trauma-sensitive guidance program based on ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) research. This year, Redford doubles down and explores the cutting-edge research itself, from foundation to implementation, and in turn makes a case for supporting this integrated approach to health. Created by epidemiologist Robert Anda and Vincent Felitti (Kaiser Permanente’s Chief of Preventive Medicine), ACE research posits that nearly every single health issue we experience as adults takes root in our childhood, and the more ACEs we’ve experienced, the more likely we are to suffer from such problems as cardiovascular complications, obesity, depression, alcohol abuse, and liver disease. “The child may not remember,” says the good doctor, “but the body remembers.” By identifying and preventing further toxic stress, this new preventive-treatment movement can disrupt cycles of abuse, addiction, and disease. By spotlighting several communities—San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point, New Haven’s Clifford Beers Clinic, and several locations in Washington state—Redford and a unified group of pediatricians, therapists, and educators make a case for supporting this currently underfunded integrated approach to health.
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