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Oklahoma: Students suffer from trauma from home; more counselors needed

Feb 1, 2020, Oklahoma City, OK, City Sentinel: COMMENTARY: More school counselors would help diminish adverse childhood experiences Joe Dorman, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy Recently, I was pleased to be a part of a very successful pair of events held in Duncan, sponsored by Pathways to a Healthier You, the Potts Family Foundation, and several local partners. Two viewings of the documentary film “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” brought together more than 600 people to learn about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma-informed care. Oklahoma unfortunately ranks top among the 50 states with the highest percentage of children experiencing high levels of “toxic stress” and extreme, long-term exposure to situations which lead to poor health conditions as adults…. Oklahoma ranks well below the suggested level needed for school counselors. A report issued by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) last year shows the ratio of student-to-counselor numbers are narrowing nationally, currently at a rate of 455-to-1, reaching a 31-year low. This is still nearly twice the recommended 250 students per counselor suggested ratio. Oklahoma ranks at 439-to-1, with 693,903 students and 1,582 school counselors. We are hopeful Oklahoma legislators will give proper funding to improve this ratio of counselors to students and modernize our school suspension laws to reduce the number of students sent home. Instead, we must find ways to help children deal with the issues causing them to lash out and help reduce this trauma. OICA will continue to raise awareness on this issue and keep you informed as the session progresses. NOTE: Joe Dorman, a former state representative, is chief executive officer at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. In 2012, he ran for governor of Oklahoma as a Democrat. His essays appear often in The City Sentinel newspaper print editions, and at the CapitolBeatOK news website.


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