Here is my update on childhood in the 21st century as shown in news coverage from the past week. It’s impossible to think that officials are blind to what’s happening everywhere. What will it take for them to admit this is an absolute disaster that simply can’t continue?
Here are ten stories that prove my point.
Austin, TX: School nurses have to deal with the decline in children's health. Children today have problems unlike anything kids experienced a decade or two ago.
Aug 24, 2018, Austin (TX) Statesman: What does the school nurse want to know about your child? A lot.
If you think school nursing is just about taking temperatures and handing out bandages, a visit to the Kids First workshop at the University of Texas School of Nursing proves you wrong pretty quickly.
During the course of two days earlier this month, about 300 nurses from districts around Central Texas learned the latest in managing ADHD, diabetes and mental health disorders, how to recognize child abuse and how to look for signs of stress and sleep deprivation in students…..
What has changed is some of the things that are coming into nurses’ offices that weren’t decades ago. Mental health crises, particularly depression and anxiety, and problems with stress management come into the office more frequently, says Violet Filley, who has been a nurse for 23 years and works with sixth-graders to 12th-graders at Round Rock Opportunity Center. …
Laconia, NH: Parents are asked to fill out ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE forms about their children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has supplied the “science” showing that trauma at home is profoundly affecting children. Parents are responsible for disruptive students.
Aug 25, 2018, Laconia (NH) Daily: Laconia school tackling challenges of childhood trauma
Traumatic stress early in life can significantly affect a child’s health, happiness and future. Studies show children who have gone through what are formally known as adverse childhood experiences — or ACEs — are more likely to develop diseases and adopt risky behaviors, ultimately shortening their life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those same experiences can also derail a child’s education and put that child at a steep disadvantage compared to peers.
That’s why educators at Pleasant Street School have instituted initiatives — both in and out of the classroom — to help students deal with the strain, and thereby become better learners.
ACEs can include divorce, a death in the family, poverty, or witnessing drug overdoses or incidents of domestic violence, explained Pleasant Street Principal David Levesque. Parents have been asked to fill out questionnaires on what potentially traumatic events their child may have been exposed to even before they enter school.
With the incidence of ACEs among Pleasant Street students increasing, “We’re relying on parents to help by helping their child ahead of time,” Levesque said….
But a big part of the pilot program at Pleasant Street has been instituting a better support system within the school for students who are struggling with problems outside of school….
In cases where a student becomes extremely disruptive, rather than sending that child to the school office, the teacher will take the student outside the classroom to find what the problem is. Meanwhile, Levesque or another staff member takes over the class while the teacher has one-to-one time with the troubled student….
A big part of taking a trauma-informed approach is identifying behaviors not as willful misbehavior, but rather as a symptom of need….
Janesville, WI: HUGE INCREASE in elementary school discipline problems. Adverse childhood experiences that parents are responsible for get the blame.
Aug 25, 2018, Janesville (WI) Gazette: Our Views: Discipline problems confound educators
… Teachers typically don’t like to do it, but incidents prompting a trip to the principal’s office are happening with astonishing frequency in the Janesville School District. In one school alone, Madison Elementary on the west side, there were 691 incident referrals in the 2017-18 school year. That’s about 1.5 incidents for each child attending the school and up from 191 incident referrals in 2014-15.
And these incidents don’t include the random spitball shot at the classroom whiteboard. They involve harassment, bullying, fighting, theft or repeated violations of school rules. It leaves us wondering, how does teaching get done at Madison Elementary?
To address disciplinary issues, the school district plans to hire a dean of students to be shared among Madison and Wilson schools. ….
The Holy Grail within the education world is the system/strategy/program that minimizes discipline problems and maximizes academic achievement. Nowadays, educators are focused on so-called “adverse childhood experiences,” believing that if they can address the core reason for students misbehaving, they won’t misbehave. It’s a noble goal, and we hope the district succeeds in better identifying and helping those students with troubled home lives….
Joplin, MO: District expands "behavioral health treatment" to all their campuses.
Aug 28, 2018, KZRG, Joplin, MO: Joplin Schools Bringing More Mental Health Services to the District
A memorandum of understanding has been reached between the Ozark Center and Joplin Schools to expand the availability and accessibility of behavioral health treatment services to students on campuses around town. There is potential for Ozark Center to work in the high school, the three middle schools, all eleven elementary schools and the preschool.
Executive Director of Student Services, Sandra Cantwell, says they will also partner with Missouri Southern with five bachelor level social workers in elementary schools, UMKC for a graduate-level social worker at one middle school, and a graduate-level social worker from the University of Arkansas that is stationed at the high school. …
Michigan: Easterseals opens diagnostic center for autism; wait time had been 6 months to one year.
Aug 30, 2018, Oakland (MI) Press: Easter Seals approved for autism evaluation center to serve hundreds of children
Easterseals Michigan has been named an approved autism evaluation center by the Blue Care Network and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
With locations in Waterford, Pontiac, Southfield and Auburn Hills, Easterseals is hoping to cut down on the wait time parents and guardians face when setting up an initial assessment for their child. Sometimes, it can take from six months to a year, according to the organization. The assessments will take place at the Auburn Hills campus, 2399 East Walton Blvd.
“Families living with autism have enough struggles to deal with on a daily basis. Timely access to services shouldn't be one of them,” Colleen Allen, president and CEO of the Autism Alliance of Michigan said. “The wait lists for a comprehensive, quality autism evaluation are extensive. …
Mt. Pleasant, MI: District teachers 'trauma-formed'; CDC blames 'drastic change' in kids on parents
Aug 30, 2018, Alma (MI) Morning Sun: MPPS Teachers undergo 'trauma-informed school' training
Mt. Pleasant Public Schools are equipping their teachers with knowledge on how to engage students experiencing trauma. …
"We've begun a process across the district to educate our staff on how to work with students who have may have experienced or are experiencing traumatic situations," Community Education Director Kim Funnell said.
The idea of this trauma-informed training is to inform the staff that the students may be acting out or disengaged in classes because of a possible Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), according to Funnell.
ACEs was first termed during a study that was done by the Center for Disease Control between 1995 and 1997. Since then, the CDC has been studying the prevalence of ACEs in the national population. The study identifies these experiences as emotional, physical and sexual abuse, as well as having a household member being incarcerated, having a mental illness and/or abusing drugs….
Survey data from 2016 indicated that 26 percent of people reporting experiencing one ACE and over 12 percent reported experiencing four or more. …
A study from the National Survey of Children’s Health in 2018 reported that around 68 percent of children aged zero to 17 have experienced one or more ACEs. …
"The the first layer of the training is to have the staff understand the effects of trauma in the brain with development and learning," Funnell said. "If you're in that traumatized state, you aren't able to learn."…
"We found that through the years that while we have the best curriculum and a highly-educated staff, we haven't been moving that needle," she said. "Over the years, there's been a dramatic change in what kind of student has been coming to school." …
Virginia: State law now requires "mental health education.” Readers are told one in 5 teens has a mental illness.
Aug 30, 2018, Richmond (VA) Republican Standard: Mental Health Education Now Required For Virginia High School Students
As students across Virginia get ready to go back to school, some will be met with a new required course this year: mental health. State law now mandates that mental health education be incorporated into the curriculum for physical education and health for students in the 9th and 10th grade. Virginia and New York are the only two states in the U.S. to require mental health education in public schools.
The move is to change the public discourse on the notion of mental health. Unfortunately, one in five people between ages 13 and 18 suffer from some type of mental illness, according to data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Furthermore, 50 percent of all lifetime cases of a disorder begin by age 14, and 75 percent by age 24….
Dr. Aaron Spence, superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools said that his division’s schools are adding four behavior interventionists this year.
“These are people who, when a child is dealing with some significant mental health issues, can go in, work with them, work with the teacher and work with their family to try to redirect that behavior,” Spence explained. …
Eagle County, CO: $400K for more school counselors; 'overwhelming need' cited.
Aug 31, 2018, Aspen Times: Basalt High School gets funding for mental health position for 2018-19 school year
When a mental health advisory committee with representation from the Roaring Fork and Eagle River valleys was formed, its members discussed numerous issues pertaining to the topic of mental health, which has already generated a national discussion.
The committee, which includes health professionals, parents and those who have been affected by mental health, identified many pertinent concerns for schools in the neighboring valleys, but highlighted one in particular.
“School-based counselors was the overwhelming need,” Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney said. “Schools are really in charge of educating our children. They’re not really experts in mental health, and what they needed was people who could respond when kids are in crisis.”
Last week, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners assigned $400,000 from the county’s Mental Health Fund to assist in getting more school-based counselors in Eagle and Roaring Fork Valley schools.
The Roaring Fork School District received $80,000, and subsequently secured a mental health position at Basalt High School for the 2018-19 academic year, working in conjunction with the Aspen Hope Center.
Ireland: 'Urgent need' for secondary places for autistic students; hundreds have none.
Aug 31, 2018, Irish Times: Hundreds of autistic teenagers in ‘inappropriate’ schools
‘Urgent need’ to invest in secondary school places for such children, warns campaigner Hundreds of teenagers with autism are in “inappropriate” secondary schools, or not in school at all, due to a dearth of suitable places, a leading rights campaigner has warned. …
Across whole areas of south Dublin, until last year, not one secondary school had an autism unit. In addition there had been insufficient investment in “special schools” – deemed most suitable for some children with autism and additional complex needs….
Principal at Christopher’s national school, Carmel Dempsey, described as a “growing issue” the anxiety among parents of autistic children about whether they would secure a suitable secondary school place.
Mr Harris said there was an “urgent need” to invest in appropriate secondary school places for children with autism and called for it to become mandatory on all mainstream secondary schools to provide spaces for autistic children….
UK: Shocking report. $390M (US dollars) for 'intolerable' mental health crisis in British schools; teachers can't cope.
Aug 31, 2018, Guardian: Calls for action over UK's 'intolerable' child mental health crisis
Children and teenagers are facing an “intolerable” mental health crisis and an urgent cash injection is needed in schools to prevent a lifetime of damage, teachers, doctors and MPs have warned.
Amid concerns about deeply worrying rates of self-harm and soaring numbers of children seeking help for problems such as eating disorders, teachers, campaigners and politicians have made a desperate plea to the government.
The intervention comes after a Children’s Society report revealed more than 100,000 children aged 14 in the UK are self-harming, with 22% of girls affected. The revelation was described as “deeply worrying” by the charity.
Teachers’ leaders have said schools are at a crunch point in terms of the mental health challenge facing classrooms, saying they feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. ….
Louise Regan, the former president of the National Education Union, added: “Teachers are overwhelmed by the sheer number of students showing signs of mental health problems … a primary teacher I spoke to recently said there was a child she felt really worried about. She was anxious about the pressure being put on her, but said she did not have anyone else to turn to for support.”…
The mental health campaigner Natasha Devon echoed calls for funding….
The North Norfolk MP, Norman Lamb, said the UK faced an “intolerable crisis”; children only had one childhood and one education. “When it’s gone, it’s gone, and that will leave a lifetime of damage …
We are failing an entire generation of young people.”
Last year, the government announced a £300m [$390M US dollars] mental health plan for schools. …
Lamb said the plan was ambitious but the timescale was “hopelessly inadequate” and many children would not see its impact of it. He added that the latest figures on self-harm should be a “wakeup call” and that an urgent injection of cash was needed….
Another teacher from a comprehensive school in Hertfordshire, also speaking anonymously, said: “We see more kids breaking down with anxiety, having to leave class. Some students in my class have panic attacks once a week and have to leave lessons.”…
The soaring rate of mental health problems among young people, particularly girls, has been put down to a combination of social media, pressure from school, austerity and gender expectations. Calls were also made for a change in school culture and a switch of focus from exams to wellbeing.
Bernadka Dubicka, the chair of the faculty for child adolescent psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said social media created a new set of challenges for young people, but there were lots of other reasons young people became distressed. …
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.