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Michigan: "Thousands of children... suffered adverse childhood experiences"; teachers need training

Dec 15, 2019, Detroit Free Press: Mich. kids are going to school traumatized — and teachers lack training, resources to help …Millions of teachers, more than 80,000 in Michigan, also face the same challenge as Redmond, who teaches in the Romulus Community Schools — teaching traumatized children without being trained for it. Thousands of children across Michigan have suffered adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and, or, the trauma of living in toxic or violent homes, neighborhoods or cities. The state of Michigan has no formal programs to teach teachers how to handle children in such pain. It also does not provide special funding or programs to deal with the growing challenge. Behind every violent story, every murder, every massive car wreck, every case of physical or sexual abuse, every parent taken by cancer or a bullet, every broken home, there is a child whose life has been disrupted…. Trauma and Toxic Environments Impact How Children Learn Former Free Press Columnist Rochelle Riley studied how trauma and toxic environments impact how children learn. When children are traumatized, the pain disrupts their learning; it affects how they handle reading, writing and arithmetic. And the problem is more pronounced in urban, predominantly black school districts because black children are more likely to suffer from multiple adverse experiences, experts say. “Our students come to us with so many challenges — things that we can’t even begin to fathom,” said Donise Floyd, director of the Romulus district’s special education department. Most of us have lived very sheltered lives or come from a different background. And our students are not so lucky, so many of them come to us with some things that many of us would only see on the news." Of the 2,600 students in the Romulus schools, Michael’s school district, 400 have individual education plans, or IEPs, for special education services. Of those 400, about a third should not be in special education, Floyd said. But there are no other options for students who have suffered trauma. In many cases, school districts' answer to child trauma is to place children in special education classes, or to suspend them when their pain-induced behavior becomes intolerable. • In Flint, one child was suspended or went home from school nearly 50 times. His mother contends that his behavior was a result of drinking lead-poisoned water for years. • In Detroit, where one in 14 children experienced violence personally, according to a 2015 study, and there are no formal programs to help. Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the 51,000-student Detroit Public Schools Community District, plans to change that. But it is an uphill battle since the state has no uniform policy or designated funding for trauma. • And in Romulus, school officials are experimenting with a program to help traumatized students because many are in special education even though they have no learning disability. … Teachers lack trauma training, resources Across the nation, children’s trauma is being handled by teachers, equipped only with love and patience, rather than training…. For those students forced into special education classes, the school district still must provide the extra care that, in most cases, it cannot afford….


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