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Our View: Pilot program can help children at risk

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Rocky Mount Telegram

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The participation of Patillo Middle School and Stocks Elementary School in a new pilot program to assist children experiencing trauma in their lives promises to pay dividends to all who participate.

Teachers, administrators and staff  at the schools are working with the NC Resilience and Learning Project to learn how to  identify and help students who may have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences such as poverty, divorce or separation, death of a parent, having a parent in jail, violence in the home, facing regular racism or living with someone who is mentally ill, suicidal or has an alcohol or drug problem.

Based on a similar Boston-based project called the Trauma and Learning Initiative, the NC Resilience and Learning Project works primarily with high poverty schools where trauma is more prevalent. The Edgecombe County schools are two of the three schools in the state participating in the program.

As reported by Telegram staff writer Amelia Harper, these Adverse Childhood Experiences can have serious, long-term impacts on a child’s health and well-being, causing stress that can negatively impact their healthy physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. ACEs have been found to increase long-term risks for smoking, alcoholism, depression, heart and liver diseases and other illnesses and unhealthy behaviors.

The effects of these traumas also can affect the classroom when children suffering from trauma cause disruptions that impact other students and the teacher. Officials with the NC Resilience and Learning Project say school systems that have used similar programs have seen improved academic performance and a reduction in the number of suspensions.

Edgecombe County Public Schools is to be commended for participating in this program. While it seems that society continues to ask teachers and school staff members to expand their roles beyond educating their students, successful implementation of this program appears to be a perfect complement to that primary mission. Identifying and helping children suffering from trauma is a worthwhile effort to not only help the children suffering from trauma, but the community as a whole.

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