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Dr. Akeem Marsh

Not Just Bad Kids Book CoverAt The Foundling, we understand that many of the behavioral challenges exhibited by children and teenagers  are often linked to past trauma, stress, and other environmental factors. In our Health and Behavioral Health programs, we couple personable and compassionate care with evidence-based therapeutic models to help children and families get on track for success.

Based on the insights he’s learned throughout his career, Dr. Akeem Marsh, the Assistant Medical Director of our Home for Integrated Behavioral Health, recently co-edited a book – Not Just Bad Kids: The Adversity and Disruptive Behavior Link which hit bookstores earlier this year!

Dr. Marsh and co-editor Lara J. Cox began developing the book after conducting a series of presentations drawing on the patterns and behaviors they’d noticed within their psychiatry practices. Dr. Marsh’s passion for the topic is rooted in both his previous work within New York City’s juvenile justice system, as well as his current role working with children and families at The Foundling.

“Within the Home of Integrated Behavioral Health, the overwhelming majority of the people we serve have been traumatized – not only by whatever happened that landed them in foster care, but also often by the systems that they’ve been involved with,” Dr. Marsh says. “They get to us at some point on that journey. And on our psychiatry team, we work to not further that trauma, but to facilitate the process of healing.  It’s really about meeting people where they’re at, and being sensitive to things they might have experienced.”

The book covers this topic in great detail, and aims to provide child welfare professionals with background that can be easily applied to their clinical work. Targeted chapters involve context and tools for working with young people that have been involved in the child welfare system, juvenile detention facilities, and more.

“Those chapters talk about the specific aspects of those systems, and how certain behaviors might manifest in youth that have had those experiences,” Dr. Marsh says. “We really tried to cover all the bases – providing context for how these kids behave in school, as younger kids, as teenagers. We give vignettes and stories that show what methods work and what should be avoided.”

Dr. Marsh hopes that the book will help professionals view ‘problem kids’ differently and encourage them to address root causes of behavior, rather than enacting harsh punishments and punitive measures that aren’t effective long-term.

“Anyone who works with kids should want to understand where they’re coming from,” he says. “Psychiatrists, pediatricians, social workers, teachers, police officers: they may notice behaviors, attitudes, or actions that don’t make sense on the surface. This book helps put those things into context and provides background – ultimately helping them be more empathetic, and better able to provide support to young people in our community.”

Dr. Marsh is excited to share these ideas, and hopes that the book will spark change. “I really hope we see a reimagining in the way this work is done,” he says. “Formal training often sets expectations that things are always done a certain way, which doesn’t always meet the needs of the children and families we serve.  I’m interested in seeing how we can be creative in meeting the needs of our community.”


Dr. Marsh’s bookNot Just Bad Kids: The Adversity and Disruptive Behavior Link – is available for purchase through a variety of retailers. Additionally, those with institutional access may access the full book via ScienceDirect.

Interested in hearing more from Dr. Marsh and learning about our trauma-informed therapeutic models? Watch our Health & Behavioral Health overview video here: