Paper Tigers: Educating Traumatized Youth

Directed by James Redford, Paper Tigers follows a small group of students in Lincoln High School, an alternative school in Walla Walla, Washington that specializes in educating traumatized youth.

PT screencap - Kelsey reflectingRedford’s film introduces the acronym ‘ACES’—Adverse Childhood Experiences. Lincoln High incorporated new information about the impact of childhood trauma and implemented an innovative approach that dramatically improves the experience and life outcomes of these children.

The film brings us into the worlds of these high school students and the school’s teaching staff who are supporting their students’ healing and metamorphosis. Yes, we learn the tragic circumstances of the children—their ACES; but the focus is on how they are supported and growing into healthy adults.

The viewing experience is both heart-wrenching and thoroughly inspiring.

Just as there are glimmers of a movement to redefine drug use and abuse as a medical and social psychological issue rather than a criminal problem, Paper Tigers reveals a movement to change our punitive approach to the destructive and self-destructive behaviors of high school students.

Everybody wins when suffering is addressed with compassion rather than ignorance and attacks. Like so many other social movements, this movement to address childhood trauma in a high school setting needs support. Redford’s film is a major contribution to the garnering of that support. And because of that, I write with passion that Paper Tigers is a must see for everyone—especially for educators, bureaucrats and political leaders.

The film’s homepage has a ‘sign-up’ form at the bottom for any and all who want to learn more about this movement and how to support this much-needed transformation in education.

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