Q: I’m all for innovation to improve dysfunctional government in order to fix things but if the magnitude of childhood trauma was really as big as you say, why wouldn’t we hear about it on the news? And I sure don’t.

This falls under the category of “disruption vs. distraction.” What we call “news” might be talking heads reading scripts written by people invested in the  status quo.  Yes, you will get fatalities and sex scandals but not the root causes of the latest drug crisis, emotional trauma and child maltreatment.

This country’s new industry appears to have an agreement to avoid using data to reveal what’s wrong with our systems of health and safety that allow 1 in 8 children to be substantiated as maltreated by age 18. And I can roll off a long list of deeply disturbing data points that indicate we are a society in which our kids are in deep trouble.

This is where disruption (and innovation) mixed with curiosity and courage come in. If you want to know what’s happening to the kids and families in your county start gathering data on the rates of child maltreatment, high school dropout, domestic violence and sexual assault arrests, and reports of hunger by public school students. The more you dig for data, the more you know about the challenges our most vulnerable residents face. Once you are grounded in the problem facing families through a phase of data-driven assessment, you can then move to planning, action and evaluation. With a data-driven and collaborative approach, we can solve challenges once thought unsolvable.