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Behavior Problem or Trauma?

A student's early morning routine was disrupted by domestic violence. He came to school crying because he soiled his pants on the way to the school. His mother dropped the student off at the end of the parking lot because she did not want the school staff to see her crying. He refused to walk to class and stood in the hallway by the door crying for his mother. The closer a staff gets to him, the student's behavior gets worse.

The child is five and usually does not end his day without hitting other students. He has several office referrals documenting consistent emotional meltdowns. The teacher has attempted your typical behavior charts with incentives. He occasionally makes it through two of the five days at school. Although the school counselor is involved, no significant improvement is made. He attends small group counseling with the school counselor once a week. The next step for the child is placing him on the school district's behavior tier plan with the goal of having the student removed.

All that has been done isn't producing results. Parents visited the school to assist, but indicate the behavior problems only occurs at school. The teacher is frustrated and burned out from the child's behavior while attending to the other twenty-one students' academic, and social-emotional needs.

The cycle of trauma in schools continues because trauma is often seen as a lack of self-discipline and a lack of parenting. While both observations are true, there's an underlying illness not being addressed. That illness is trauma. The cure is educating parents and school personnel on what trauma is, how trauma exhibits itself, and tangible ways to reduce traumatic experiences in schools. Without an emphasis on trauma, teachers and students will remain in cycles of abuse.

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