As Mainers, we at PDC take seriously our role as stewards of the next generation, and know that our ability to raise strong, healthy children who will lead our communities tomorrow requires smart and innovative approaches today.

We now know that the brain’s architecture is built over time and from the bottom up, much like a house, and that severe or repeated exposure to violence and trauma can cause toxic stress responses in children which can weaken the brain’s architecture, with damaging effects on health, learning and behavior across the lifespan.

But research tells us that a supportive, stable relationship with at least one key caregiver in a child’s life can buffer toxic stress, thereby preventing or reversing its effects. That is why it is essential for communities to put in place strategies that can help prevent such adverse experiences from becoming toxic.

Portland Defending Childhood in Portland, Maine is one of eight sites in the country that works to both prevent children's exposure to violence and reduce negative effects of violence. We offer information, support and evidence-based treatment.

For more information, see Our Services

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What's at stake

We now know that the brain’s architecture is built over time and from the bottom up, much like a house. Sturdy architecture is built when children have stable, positive experiences and relationships with caring adults at home and in the community. But severe or repeated exposure to violence and trauma can cause toxic stress responses in children which can weaken the brain’s architecture, with damaging effects on health, learning and behavior across the lifespan.

Evidence based solutions

Research also suggests that a supportive, stable relationship with at least one key caregiver in a child’s life can buffer toxic stress, thereby preventing or reversing its effects. That is why it is essential for communities to put in place strategies that can help prevent such adverse experiences from becoming toxic. And for children confronting significant risk – those whose toxic stress responses are continual, or are triggered by multiple sources - early intervention can shore up fragile foundations, effectively changing the course of their development.

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The right strategies can change the course of children's lives and strengthen our communities.

For information on resources, dial 211 or call Portland Defending Childhood at (207) 661-6504.

For assistance with a mental health crisis, call (888) 568-1112. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.