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“The average human brain consists of approximately 3 pounds of jelly-like substance, contains 100 billion neurons, and can make 100 trillion connections…more connections than in all of the world wide web.” This is according to Dr. Linda Chamberlain, founding director of the Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project and an epidemiologist specializing in childhood exposure to violence and brain development.

Dr. Chamberlain recently spoke to over 100 professionals attending a workshop addressing adolescent brain development, which focused on the resliency of the human brain and how violence, including abuse, neglect, domestic and dating violence can impact the brain negatively.

“The latest research indicates that an adolescent’s brain is a work-in-progress that is more similar to the brain of a child than an adult.”  According to Chamberlain, when pre-adolescents and adolescents are exposed to early traumatic and violent experiences, it dramatically increases the risks of substance abuse, eating disorders, teen pregnancy and other health and mental health issues including depression and suicide.

The one-day workshop held November 16 in Columbia, hosted by the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association (MJJA), was part of MJJA’s Best Practices in Juvenile Justice Series.  The training, offered free to participants, was sponsored by the the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group through the Missouri Department of Public Safety, the Office of Juvenile Justice Deliquency Prevention (OJJDP); and the Children’s Trust Fund.