by Katlin Lewis
Have you ever thought of how many students in High School suffer from traumatic events? The problem is there are so many different traumatic stages that children and the youth go through. Most of them may never know how to deal with their pain, but the good thing is, that there are ways to fix their troubles.
Every growing child is raised differently, we were all raised differently, of course. Any child may have gone through something terrible that had hurt their feelings so bad, and it caused them to be traumatized.
When I speak of traumatized, it’s when a child may have seen their parents physically fighting, or watching their dad get so high off of a drug. According to Lessons From Research on Successful Children, there are early signs in a child when they’re going through difficult traumatic situations, based on their successfulness, behavior, and physical and mental health. Their performance is being evaluated by their teachers, and they can recognize the early signs.
Another reason that students face trauma is abuse, and there are different abuses that they usually face: sexual, physical, domestic, community, or school violence. There are effects of these abuses like, separation anxiety (mostly in young children), sleep disturbance and nightmares, sadness, loss of interest in a fun activity, reduced concentration, decline in school work, and anger or irritability (American Psychological Association).
As the children turn into teens, many of these traumas can lead to alcohol and drug use in teenagers to manage distress. There’s also a theory that youth turn to alcohol and drug substances to manage the intense emotions, traumatic reminders, and to numb themselves from their experience.
Some school in the States was doing a survey with their students, and the answers were showing that some of these youths abuse alcohol and drugs, based on their sad experience. (Making The Connection: Trauma & Substances)
When it comes to a time where a child will need help, there are teachers and staff members in school who may know how to resolve the trouble of a student. According to a book, Breaking The Cycle: Supported & Evidence Approaches, the helpers should organize to re-focus on understanding what happened to a child or student, rather than focusing on their behavior. Also, the staff can build skills in key areas such as safety, emotional management, self-control and conflict resolution, healthy boundaries, and healthy social relationships.
Somewhere in the States, there were these staff members that practiced how to respond to traumatized children, and they built up knowledge by responding to the children that needed help.
The traumatized student can talk to a person they mostly trust, and it may help them to heal from their rough experience. There are studies from 8 Ways to Students Who Experience Trauma, that says that 60% of adults reported that a child experienced abuse from difficult circumstances in the family, or traumatic events, before a child turned four. The teachers and staff members accept a student with their behavior, no matter what, and they also encouraged the student to the development of positive thinking.
There was a school experiment discipline in Walla Walla, WA, Lincoln High School. They saw that the school suspension dropped up to 85 percent. According to Resilience Practices Overcome Students’ ACEs in Trauma-Informed High School, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), made a workshop that created awareness about childhood adversity. They encouraged all of the community volunteers to blend in with the trauma-informed and resilience-building practices.
Later, all of the teachers and staff members made an action about the students who showed signs of trauma by, providing emotionally safe spaces for the students, values of hope, teamwork between teachers and staff, communicating with trauma-triggered students, and talking with the student at their level.
Above that, the Lincoln High School in Washington did a play called Paper Triggers, and their school made a huge impact among the “troubled” students.
When we respond to traumatized children or students, we’ll have to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves, too. There is a possibility of us getting affected by their problems and it will be the first thing for us to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves. Above that, there are many solutions to resolve a student that’s suffering from trauma, and it’s mostly showing them that we’re always going to be here for them and not leave their side.
Katlin Lewis is a graduate of the Kuskokwim Learning Academy in Bethel, Alaska.