Paper Tigers Screening

The Institute of Recovery from Childhood Trauma (IRCT) is pleased to be hosting a screening of Paper Tigers, in partnership with the Centre for Child Protection at the University of Kent.

Paper Tigers, a documentary film, follows a year in the life of an alternative American secondary school in Washington, which has radically changed its approach to disciplining students in line with findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, as a direct result head teacher, Jim Sporleder, attending an educational conference addressing the adverse outcomes of toxic stress.

Paper Tigers follows six troubled teenagers at Lincoln Alternative High considered at last chance before dropping out after a history of behavioural problems, truancy and substance misuse. The ACE study found that the more traumatic experiences the participants had as a child, such as abuse and neglect, the more likely they were to develop health problems in later life, such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. Further, a significant relationship was established between adverse childhood experiences and the prevalence of substance misuse, unprotected sex, a poor diet and suicide. This film is considered a testament to contemporary child and social studies and developmental sciences, which highlight the importance of a caring adult in breaking the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life.

This film is of great relevance to the Institute of Recovery from Childhood Trauma due to its focus on adverse childhood experiences that are substantially impacting traumatised and looked after children on an international scale. It highlights the importance of a caring adult, in this case a teacher, thus making a case for the importance of young people attending school; an issue apparent among children in care, who are often truant, excluded and/or underachieving, due to a variety of factors, some including placement instability, insufficient support and challenging behaviours. Although no one single approach can be derived from this film, it highlights the importance of caring professional and personal relationships, and persistence of love, which are important messages to professionals, students and academics. Such issues are applicable to all professionals working with children, and thus it is of priority to communicate the implications of childhood trauma to further thought and practise.

Paper Tigers is a film considered as appropriate for all that are interested and it is not limited to a certain age group, however it does contain some profanity and personal discretion is advised. The target audience is a professional and academic adult demographic that work, or are interested in working in relevant fields.

A Q&A is to follow the screening in order to answer any of the questions anyone may have in relation to the film, the ACE study or childhood trauma as a whole.

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