One of these children is having trouble learning. Absenteeism? Nope. Low test scores? Nope. Dyslexia? Nope. The largest, most important health study you never heard of — conducted by Dr. Vincent Felitti — concludes that trauma makes it difficult for one in three students to do well in school.
When a child is continually confronted with traumatic experiences, such as physical abuse, neglect, bullying, or an addicted or absentee parent, his brain is continually on ‘high alert.’ He or she is constantly in flight or fight mode, and emergency response always takes precedence in the brain. This, in turn, not only distracts children from schoolwork, but also releases hormones that physically damage the brain.
Other factors, like household income or parental education, do not mitigate the effects. Consequences play out early — traumatized 5-year-olds are three times more likely to have problems with paying attention, and two times more likely to show aggression — and affect health and success over a lifetime.
Increasingly, educators and other service providers are implementing new practices to support children who have experienced trauma. Whether kids have been subjected to domestic violence, bullying, or the stress of living in an impoverished household, trauma-informed services can offer a safe refuge and coping skills that can build resilience and aim them at a brighter future. Thanks to all of our partners who are working so hard to help them grow up safe and healthy!