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Baltimore op ed: Childhood trauma from home is significant problem; kids should be screened

July 5, 2018, Baltimore Sun: Schools ill equipped to address childhood trauma Childhood trauma is one of the most significant public health issues of our time, and schools in Maryland and the nation are not ready to address the problem. There are no universal screening systems for trauma or related mental health issues, no protocols to identify the needs for mental health services in our schools and no systemic treatments provided to at-risk children. Not identifying children with mental health issues results in devastating outcomes from school shootings to teen suicide, lower IQ and reading scores, emotional problems and delinquency. The most successful schools in the future will be those that can create and maintain a trauma-responsive school culture and provide the needed services to at-risk children…. … children don’t come to school in isolation. They are products of their environments, which often includes family histories of: mental illness, domestic violence, abuse, neglect and substance abuse. The challenge becomes how to intervene in the child’s life, as well as that of their family and community, to facilitate a healthy learning experience…. …Currently, there is no universal screening protocol in schools, so thousands of students’ needs are never identified. The second part of this process is placing case manager navigators, who could be Department of Social Services staff, juvenile probation officers and mental health clinicians in schools with high at-risk populations, ensuring ready access to services to support students at no cost to schools other than office space. … The most desired schools of the future will be those who meet the holistic needs of students. We are optimistic that the Kirwan Commission members, as they move forward, will focus their efforts on the whole child in order to support the academic achievement of at-risk students in all communities by working to identify and deal with childhood trauma in our schools.

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