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Shelby County, TN: Teachers need training; "reality of trauma in our classrooms"

May 24, 2019, Daily Memphian: Memphis [TN] schools need to face the high cost of trauma among students Nothing in teacher training prepared me for how trauma would creep into my classroom…. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic childhood events that alter physiology and affect normal brain development, especially of the structures involved in decision-making and emotional regulation. … As a person experiences more ACEs, their risk for adverse outcomes later in life increases. Research by the CDC suggests that higher ACE scores are significantly correlated with lower educational attainment, increased risk for chronic disease, mental illness and cancer, increased incarceration, increased suicidal tendencies and decreased longevity. … And though childhood trauma is remarkably commonplace — 52% of adults in Shelby County have an ACE score of one or more, 21% have two or three ACEs, and 12% have four or more — schools within Shelby County often lack the resources, data and personnel to respond effectively to it. … SCS recently passed a resolution to become a “trauma-informed” district and will require all personnel to undergo trauma awareness training. While these are important first steps, they are not enough. Schools need significant investment in staff and resources to move beyond being trauma-informed to being truly trauma-responsive. We must better equip schools for the reality of trauma in our classrooms and communities because the unmitigated costs of not doing so are too high. … We need teachers with access to and training in social-emotional learning curricula and other systems to create trauma-responsive supportive classrooms. We need more school social workers and behavior specialists so that every student has highly trained adults in their building to support them through traumatic experiences. We need more family engagement specialists who can connect parents and caregivers to community resources so that families can understand and mitigate the impact of childhood trauma on our kids, thereby helping to reduce disciplinary incidents and increase school attendance. We need trauma-responsive pilot schools to collect data and serve as models to expand best throughout Memphis. …
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