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Report: Schools Can Help Kids Who Experience Trauma

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PHOTO: New research says more Ohio schools could implement evidence-based practices to better identify and help children who are coping with traumatic experiences. Photo credit: morguefile.com.
PHOTO: New research says more Ohio schools could implement evidence-based practices to better identify and help children who are coping with traumatic experiences. Photo credit: morguefile.com.
 By Mary KuhlmanContact
February 11, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Many of Ohio's children face traumatic experiences on a daily basis that experts say can lead to a lifetime of problems.

New research from the Children's Defense Fund of Ohio says schools can play a vital role in helping to improve the outcomes for children whose home lives may involve domestic violence or abuse, serious accidents or the loss of a parent.

CDF Ohio executive director Renuka Mayadev says educators may not realize that a child who acts out at school often is experiencing troubles at home.

"Maybe the child's hungry,” she advises. “Maybe at home there has been financial instability – and so, the problems that are occurring at school with misbehavior and acting out are really a cry for help, or for some intervention."

The research says Ohio school districts would benefit from adding more practices that enable them to identify, assess, and treat children who have been exposed to a traumatic event.

Mayadev says trauma affects a child's physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional well-being – and some schools already realize that helping to address these concerns can help kids prevent lifelong problems.

"Cognitive behavioral therapies, for instance, have been used both in Cincinnati School District and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District,” she says. “And programs where we've seen suspensions have then gone down, when these therapies have been implemented."

By treating the root of the problems children face and not just the symptoms, she says families, communities and the state, as a whole will benefit.

"Incarceration costs can be avoided, discipline costs can be avoided,” she says. “Kids can stay in school rather than losing school time, which, in effect, will be positive for our community and for our economy."

According to the American Medical Association, more than 25 percent of children in the U.S. will witness or experience a traumatic event before they turn four.


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