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September 12, 2012

Addressing Trauma in School Districts

Lincoln Alternative High School, in Walla Walla, Washington, and Brockton Public Schools in Brockton, MA has innovated in bringing a new discipline process forward that deals with children on a different level. Their process now accounts for children living with trauma. The process does not do away with accountability or responsibility. Instead, it accounts for trauma as a mediator for the negative behavior (notice now I didn’t call it bad behavior?) Washington State has identified an average of 13 students in every classroom of 30 kids who are impacted by 3 or more Adverse Childhood Experiences. At Lincoln, suspensions have dropped by 85%. Teachers and administrators are being trained in a different method of responding to problems with students. Instead of asking why are you bad, they ask what is happening to you. You can read the story here. Here is Washington State’s graphic on the prevalence of ACE’s among their student population.

As a sharing individual with significant contacts, I offered this same information to the President of the Anchorage School District and the Superintendent. I get the same political response I always seem to get. The President acknowledged the receipt of the information, but was too busy to read it yet. The Superintendent assigned the information to their head nurse. I also shared it with the President of the School Board association. No response at all, but I don’t know her so I understand. She probably thinks I am a crackpot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

I did have success with the Juneau Douglas School District. I have a friend who works there and understands my Adverse Childhood Experience mission. They are looking at the information and wanting to learn more about this discipline process.

By the way, here is an outstanding addition to any teaching library, and it is free. It’s called Helping Traumatized Children Learn by Massachusetts Advocates for Children: Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative.

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