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Safety Solutions

Trauma Sensitive Schools; Helping Kids Heal

Posted by John Baker on Feb 13, 2017 8:50:36 AM

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By the age of four one in four students will witness or experience a traumatic event.  By the age of 16 two thirds of students will be exposed to trauma.  Trauma in children's lives in real.  Fortunately trauma is starting to be more recognized among educators as one of the leading causes in distracting students from meaningful learning.  The NEA recently produced a white paper titled "Teaching Children from Poverty and Trauma" and professionals are beginning to spend more time talking about trauma sensitive learning environments.  

For many students who have experienced trauma outside of school their school represents a safe haven, a place of healing.  What a wonderful gift to give to a child as they process their trauma and learn to move beyond it.  Tragically for others school IS THE PLACE OF TRAUMA.  For those students walking through the school doors every morning represents being re-victimized or reminded of past traumas brought on by bullying or other traumatic events.  For some they must face their abuser every day in the hallway or lunch room.  How can a child possibly be able to focus on learning when they are more focused on simply surviving?  

So what must change?  First, educators must become more trauma sensitive.  A distracted student may actually be distracted for very good reason.  We need to learn to take time and ask questions, know the signs of traumatized victims and get them the help they need.  Secondly, we must be very deliberate in creating a school climate that welcomes everyone, encourages everyone and protects everyone.  Regardless of what is happening in the community school buildings must be viewed as a safe haven for all regardless of gender, race, identity or affiliations.  

This is a school safety issue.  When students feel safe then they are able to learn and thrive.  Until then their natural sense of survival trumps everything else.  Schools really should be a place to heal.  

This is John Baker for safetysolutions4schools.com


Topics: School Safety

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