Hays, KS: Warning: "Children who experience abuse at home might re-enact that behavior at school"

Jan 4, 2018, Hays (KS) Post: Positive, not punishment: Hays schools work to help children affected by trauma A simple pat on the shoulder would not bother most people, but for a child who has experienced abuse, it might trigger a feeling of intense fear. They might yell or hit or run away. The Hays USD 489 school district has formed a committee to make schools better adapted for children who have experienced trauma. Instead of punishing children for acting out, they are trying to respond to children in positive ways and give them coping skills to deal with fear and stress. Childhood trauma can come in many forms. Some of these include sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect—physical and emotional, household dysfunction, domestic violence, a parent or guardian with severe mental illness, domestic violence (especially against a mother), divorce, an incarcerated relative, substance abuse and death of a close family member. “In a child who has experienced trauma, a neutral stimulus now is something that creates this fear response in them that they now act out. With a fear response, you might see that fight, flight or freeze, or they might act out, they might try to run away, they might become more aggressive either verbally or physically or they might completely withdraw within themselves and have trouble interacting within the classroom and with everything else that is happening around them. “Those triggers can be things that we normally would not think would make someone upset, but it is because it brings back that traumatic experience. They go into this re-experience of it and are trying to cope with this scary situation for them.” Raj Sharma, director of special education, said children who experience abuse at home might re-enact that behavior at school. … He said an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of a school’s student population likely has suffered at least one traumatic event. Statistically, that would be one to two children in each Hays classroom.