By Cliff Depres
About half of U.S. children suffer abuse, poverty, parental incarceration and other trauma. These kids face deep emotional, physical and mental scars.
How can schools support and help students dealing with trauma?
The new Salud America! “Trauma-Sensitive School Action Pack” is a free guide to help school personnel talk to decision-makers, build a support team, craft a system to identify and support traumatized students, and more.
The Action Pack was created by Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., director of the Salud America! Latino health program at UT Health San Antonio, with input from John Hernandez, student services director at East Central Independent School District in San Antonio. He created a unique system to help traumatized students in his school district.
“A trauma-sensitive school is one where all school personnel play a role in helping students and their families deal with trauma,” Ramirez said. “We hope school districts across Texas and the nation will use this Action Pack to help students.”
Childhood trauma, also called adverse childhood experiences, can have negative, lasting effects on children’s wellbeing. Trauma includes parental domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, incarceration, as well as child abuse, neglect, food insecurity and poverty.
About 46 percent of U.S. children experience trauma.
About 77.8 percent of Latinos experienced at least one traumatic event in childhood, according to a national study of 5,117 Latinos ages 18-74. This is a key highlight of The State of Latino Early Childhood Development research review by Dr. Ramirez.
Schools are pivotal in the effort to address childhood trauma.
The Action Pack helps school personnel in five key areas:
- Start the Conversation. Use Salud America! model emails and talking points to start the conversation about trauma sensitivity with school decision-makers.
- Create a Group & Vision. Use Salud America! model emails, presentations and guides to start a trauma-sensitive task force and build the school’s vision.
- Take Immediate Action: Trauma-Sensitive Tracking System. Use Hernandez’s real- school templates. He used the district’s own software to create a system with protocols to identify, monitor and connect students with trauma to help and resources.
- Take Long-Term Action: Comprehensive Trauma Sensitivity. Use the Salud America! guide to plan additional action that will best support students in your district.
- Raise Awareness. Use Salud America! model emails, social media posts and presentations to share the new system.
The Action Pack is part of an effort by Salud America! — which maintains a national online network of 200,000 parents, school personnel and community leaders — to improve health equity among Latino children and families in San Antonio and the nation.
“A trauma-sensitive school can help students gain coping skills, build resiliency, form strong relationships, develop a healthy self-image, and manage stress and emotion,” Ramirez said. “This gives kids a better chance to thrive in the classroom and become healthy adults.”
Sign up for the Action Pack: https://salud.to/traumakit.