Experts Call For More Trauma-Informed Classrooms as New School Year Approaches

Posted August 5, 2018

Shifting Mindset from “What’s wrong with this child” to “What happened to this child” Will Be Key to Students’ Success

(Winchester, VA) – With studies estimating that nearly 50% of U.S. children have experienced at least one potentially traumatic “adverse childhood experience,” or ACE, experts including Ukeru Systems President Kim Sanders are calling for classroom to be trauma-informed in order for students to best succeed.1

Trauma is often understood as an experience of violence and victimization which can include sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe neglect, loss, domestic violence and/or the witnessing of violence. But it can also be subtler, resulting from bullying, shame, fear and anxiety, among others.

“Children that have experienced trauma may act out in negative ways when placed in stressful or ‘trigger’ situations,” stated Sanders. “It isn’t uncommon for these outbursts to occur in the classroom. Teachers with trauma-informed training shift their mindset from ‘what is wrong with this child’ to ‘what has happened to this child to make them act out in this way.’”

Unfortunately, behavioral management methods that have historically been used in mainstream classrooms during these types of negative outbursts, such as restraints and seclusions, can be devastating on individuals who have experienced trauma, especially in the case of special needs students.

“Utilizing these types of techniques simply re-traumatizes a child,” stated Sanders. “I believe that the use of physical restraints or seclusion is not only unnecessary, but also unproductive and that all intervention — educational and behavioral — should be built on an approach of comfort versus control.™”

 

A 2014 National Public Radio investigative report found that restraints were used at least 267,000 times each school year in schools throughout the U.S. Despite representing only 12% of the public school population, students with disabilities comprise two-thirds of this number. Restraint and seclusion are not evidence-based practices and there is no data to suggest that either leads to reduced violent or uncontrolled behavior.2 In fact, research indicates that restraint and seclusion actually cause, reinforce and maintain aggression and violence.3

 

 

Ukeru recently surveyed 44 teachers, primarily in public teaching settings, and found that 81% of the respondents stated that minimizing the use of restraint and seclusion was a goal at their school. A full 100% believed that having a trauma-informed classroom can help to minimize the use of restraint and seclusion. However, nearly 45% said that their school had no plan in place for future trauma-informed classrooms.

 

“As we approach yet another year, it is imperative to train teachers and administrators in a trauma-informed approach so that all students can learn in a safe environment, while maintaining the safety of all those in the classroom,” stated Sanders.

On Monday, August 6, from 2 – 3pm EDT, Nashville, TN school, Fall-Hamilton Elementary School will be highlighted in a free national webinar hosted by Ukeru Systems for their proactive steps to making their classrooms trauma-informed.  In Nashville, 60% of children have had an adverse childhood experience. Principal Mathew Portell will explain how his team took proactive steps to ensure the needs of students and teachers were being met, even though they were at the center of a changing neighborhood in which many students are being displaced.

Media are encouraged to attend.  Click here to register.  There will be time allotted afterward for participants to ask questions of Principal Portell. If you are unable to join the webinar, but are interested in an interview with Kim Sanders, please contact Amber McCracken at 703-599-0134 or at amber@julietglassroth.com.