St. Louis therapist Dr. Lena Pearlman shares advice for teachers on dealing with students who have been traumatized
-40% of school age children say they experienced a physical assault during the past year, with one in 10 receiving an assault-related injury.
-25 % of children state they were the victim of robbery, vandalism or theft during the previous year.
-20% of children witnessed violence in their family or the neighborhood during the previous year.
-In a recent study of a school, 30% of the children reported that they had witnessed a stabbing and 26% had witnessed a shooting in the previous year.
What can be done to help the children to be successful in school?
-Create predictable routines in your classroom (also predictable reaction to their behaviors, outbursts, internalizing, etc.)
-Give choices – traumatic events involve loss of control/chaos. Kids feel safe when they have some control.
-Increase the level of support/encouragement – designate an adult who can provide additional support if necessary.
-Set clear, firm limits for inappropriate behavior and develop logical rather than punitive consequences. Don’t take offense to their outburst or behaviors (this has nothing to do with you!). Realize that there will be set-backs. Have realistic expect. for success.
-Provide a safe place for the child to talk about what happened (designated time and place to share).
-Be sensitive to cues in the environment that may cause a reaction (storms, emergency vehicles responding, etc.) – anticipate difficult times and provide additional support (upcoming court dates, stressful times of the school year, etc).
-Warn children in advance if you will be doing something out of the ordinary (intruder drill, turning out lights, etc.)
-Look for ways to provide accommodations – not every traumatized child will meet criteria for an IEP, consider 504 or just best practices (shorten assignments, allow addi’ time, process for visiting designated adult, safe place, team plan for what to do if/when there is a significant behavioral outburst, etc.). ———–Fair isn’t always equal!
-Team approach and outside resources – utilizing talents, strengths, and ideas from a group will provide more tools in the toolbox. This will certainly give a higher likelihood of success.
Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates is a therapy and counseling practice in St. Louis, Missouri. The practice specializes in working with kids, teens and adults. The five therapists provide services to those dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, relationships, trauma, and other mental health related items. The practice is located at 655 Craig Road, Suite 300, St. Louis, MO 63141. The office phone number is 314-942-1147. Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates is online at www.STLmentalhealth.com. The practice provides free training and professional development for teachers, counselors, principals, and other educators in the St. Louis region.