The St. Joseph School District is working to better meet the needs of students who have experienced trauma. Teachers, counselors and community members met Wednesday morning at the Troester Media Center for ‘Healing the Experience of Trauma’, a seminar hosted by social worker Jean West.
The program was designed to help adults better understand what trauma is and how to identify it in children.
“Trauma is when you go through a life experience and you have an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, helplessness and terror,” West said.
The seminar touched on the types of trauma as well as how children might act out if they are living in stressful or toxic environments.
West said the program was intended to teach adults how to provide a safe and comfortable environment for children to learn and express themselves.
“This impacts every discipline and how we are able to help kids,” West said. “The more we know about trauma informed care, the better interventions we can put in place for our children, our students, so that we can more effectively help them to overcome the things they have been through.”
West said one of the biggest indicators of toxic stress in a child’s life is sleeping problems and behavioral outbursts. According to West, children who have experienced trauma or extreme stress often exhibit behavioral signs like irritability, clinginess, aggressiveness and intrusive thoughts.
“It’s not that we have to know the specifics of what the child has been through, but when we begin to see those behavior changes, that can really be an indicator that there has been trauma,” West said.
For more information on resources available to families of children who have experienced trauma, contact Jean West at email@example.com or at 816-671-4226.