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I attended a training through Central Maine Inclusive Schools (CMIS) and as usual the presentation was very good.

Trauma  Leaves Children Behind:  The Effects of Violence, Traumatic Stress and Depression on Academic Achievement and School Attendance.

What constitutes trauma:

  • Child Abuse and maltreatment
  • Domestic violence
  • Community violence
  • Criminal victimization
  • Medical trauma
  • Traumatic loss
  • Accident & Fires
  • Natural Disaster

We need to look at what’s on TV news, etc. what is school related?  You see images nightly of  violence, bullying, gang violence and threats; a new concern is internet cyberbullying.
Statistics show that 20%-50% of children in the U.S. are exposed to community violence.

  • Disproportionately affects urban, poor and minority youth.

MY PERSONAL OPINION HERE:  I believe that the rural/small town youth in the United States are an under reported and understudied population in regards to the amount of violence they are exposed to.  I would like to see if this is the case or not…

If kids personally witness violence, they will be more violent.

3 Broad Categories of Response if have students the victim response.
These symptoms must be present for at least 1 month and must cause signifiant distress or impairment in functioning be considered for PTSD diagnosis.

  • Re-experiencing
  • Avoidance/Numbing
  • Increased Arousal

Broad Categories of PTSD Responses by students include the following Avoidance/Numbing

  • Avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations about the trauma
  • Avoid reminders of the trauma
  • Amnesia for important aspects of the trauma
  • Diminished interest or participation in normal activities
  • Feeling detached or estranged from others
  • Restricted affective (emotional) range
  • Believing one will not live a normal life span (Belief in a foreshortened future)

EXPOSURE AND TRAUMA SYMPTOMSThings that can occur with exposure to violence and question that could be asked of students.

  • How often over the past year have you been hit at school or in the community
  • How often over the past year have you seen someone beaten up?

Trauma Symptoms

  • Have you have been having nightmares about the event?
  • Have you been avoiding things that remind you of the event?
  • Have you been jumpy or easily startled?


  • Sleep difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance
  • Exaggerated startle response

How does distress from violence affect students in the classroom?
Decline in classroom performance from

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Flashbacks, precocupations with trauma
  • Avoidance of school and other places

Development of other behavioral and emotional problems

  • Substance abuse
  • Aggression
  • Depression

What can be done for students exposed to violence?

  • Early detection of violence exposure and associated distress
  • Teaching students skills to cope better with distress and to learn social problem sovling skills
  • Informing teachers and parents how they can support these students in the classroom and at home.

How does violence or trauma exposure impact learning?

  • Decreased reading ability (Delaney-Black et al, 2003)
  • Lower grade-oint average (Hurt et al, 2001)
  • More days of school absence (Hurt et al, 2001) Avoidance
  • Decreased rates of hgih school graduation (Grogger 1997)
  • Increased expulsions and suspension

Classroom Strategies for the Student with PTSD
Teachers can help a child suspected of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by:

  • Gently discouraging reliance on avoidance; letting the child know it is all right to discuss the incident.
  • Talking understandingly with the child about their feelings
  • Understanding that children react differently according to age – young children tend to cling – adolescents withdraw.
  • Encouraging a return to normal activities.
  • Helping restore the child’s sense of control of his or her life.
  • Seeking professional help for the student.

Evidence based treatments for Anxiety disorders

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Play therapy
  • Psychological first aid
  • Twelve step approaches
  • Eye Movement Desensititization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Medications
  • Systematic desensitization

New Freedom Commission on Mental Health

  • Bringing Science to Services
  • Building the knowledge base for the treatment of trauman
  • Expanding and enhancing school-based mental health programs.

I really enjoyed today’s training session, it reinforced many of my previous trainings and will make me more aware of the impacts of violence on students after they have either been involved personally or witnessed violence.
If you teach in Central Maine or are wiling to travel to the Waterville, Maine area, I highly recommend this training which will be offered again on March 1st.  Mark is an outstanding presenter and well worth listening to his presentations.

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