With the 4th of July right around the corner, many of us are focused on a day off of work and a family barbeque, but I’m still thinking about a day that just passed ̶ National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day. Leading up to Independence Day, it’s appropriate that we took time last Saturday to think about a disorder plaguing many members of our armed services who fought to preserve our freedoms. I also think about others in our community. It’s not just veterans who are suffering from the effects of trauma. Our children and young people are suffering too!
As many as one third of children in urban neighborhoods have witnessed a homicide and many African American and Hispanic students in urban areas fear for their safety at school and choose to simply stay away. Exposure to this kind of violence takes a toll both emotionally and academically. Emerging research, for example, shows that once African American children are exposed to violence, their achievement test scores drop significantly below the scores of other children. However, the most significant impact of the trauma young people are experiencing is how it erodes their sense of hope and breeds a sense of meaninglessness.
But despite the challenges, we know that youth are resilient and given the right tools, can overcome the trauma they are experiencing. When schools are trauma informed and teachers employ healing strategies, they can work to reverse the negative consequences students are experiencing from trauma in their homes and communities. While researching my new book, Hope and Healing in Urban Education, I profiled several schools and organizations that use healing in all aspects of working with young people. These organizations are producing amazing results!
So this weekend while we celebrate our independence, I hope you will also take a moment to celebrate our interdependence. When we help our children overcome the trauma they’re experiencing today, we create healthier and stronger communities for all of us tomorrow.