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Strengthening Families Conference Focuses on Resilience

March 13, 2012

BOISE, Idaho - Being resilient, able to bounce back when the going gets tough, is considered one of the factors that make families strong. That premise is the focus of the Strengthening Families Training Institute meeting in Boise today and Wednesday, where social workers, child care providers and clergy are among those meeting to talk about preventing child abuse and neglect.

Sarah Leeds, an Idaho Children's Trust Fund board member who runs a shelter and domestic violence prevention program, is leading one of the educational sessions on children's exposure to trauma.

"We hear over and over, 'Well, the kids were asleep. They didn't see anything.' Kids do know, and even when they're asleep, there's some level of consciousness that knows what's going on."

She's also talking about how to instill resilience in a child so the child can heal and avoid developmental problems and challenges within the parent-child relationship.

Leeds says children naturally think of themselves first, and when they experience violence or neglect, they assume it's their fault. That's a basic fact of childhood development that she wants to be more widely recognized, as family and experts work with children recovering from trauma.

"They don't sit and talk in therapy sessions like we do as adults, but they can play through issues, they can draw through issues and they can role-play."

Attendees will also be contributing to the National Movement for America's Children, which is asking how everyone can ensure that every child has an equal opportunity for healthy growth and development.

The event is at the Riverside Hotel on Chinden Blvd. Media welcome. Conference details are at

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID