Last summer I blogged about an online, weekly talk show I watch every Friday called the Parent Teacher Student Check In (PTSCI). As a parent and a teacher, I was humbled when one of the show’s co-hosts asked me to be a guest on the show to talk about what students of color need from the educational system. The topic is so broad that I could spend hours talking about all of the things children of color need from the educational system. Being a product of the public school system myself, I have lots of memories, good and bad, about being Black in a city school where 99.9 percent of the teachers were white. I can probably write a whole book about that experience. However, since the PTSCI is only an hour and a half long, I chose to focus on only one topic: trauma-informed care for students who are experiencing the greatest atrocities amongst us.
During these pandemic times, there has been an enormous amount of learning loss when schools closed in 2020. While some students benefited from a nurturing home where their parents continued to teach them and spend valuable learning time with them, others did not have it so good. Those “other” students experienced unfavorable living circumstances at home. According to the American Society for Positive Care for Children’s (ASPCC) website, childhood trauma can come in the form of the following harmful circumstances:
- The child has a parent who swears at them, insults them, put them down, humiliates them or acts in a way that makes them afraid that they might get physically hurt.
- The child has a parent who pushes, grabs, slaps; throws something at them or hits them so hard that they have marks or were injured.
- The child has an adult or person at least 5 years older than them who touches or fondles them in a sexual way. Or has attempted to have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with them.
- The child feels that no one in his/her family loves them or thinks they are important or special. Basically, the family does not look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other.
- The child does not have enough to eat, have to wear dirty clothes, or have no one to protect them. Have parents who are too drunk or high to take care of them or take them to the doctor if needed.
- The child’s parents are separated or divorced
- The child has witnessed his/her mother or stepmother being pushed, grabbed, slapped, or having something thrown at her. Or she was kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit hard with something. Or threatened with a gun
- The child lives with someone who is a problem drinker, alcoholic, or uses street drugs.
- The child has a parent or household member who is depressed or mentally ill or attempted suicide.
The aforementioned list are the topics on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) quiz that helps people to determine the amount of childhood trauma they have experienced. Anyone can take the quiz on the American Society for Positive Care for Children (ASPCC) website at https://americanspcc.org/take-the-aces-quiz/ to determine the amount of childhood trauma they have experienced growing up.
According to Chaka Phaire, a licensed certified social worker and co-host of the Parent Teacher Student Check In (PTSCI), “the ACE’s exam is usually given to caretakers [in schools] to show them how much trauma they’ve had in their lives and to give them an opportunity to identify with the students that they are dealing with.”
Mr. Phaire went on to say, “The Oprah Winfrey definition of trauma is ‘once you go through this, you can never go back to being the same person.’ So that can come in several different forms. For example, a fire in your home may not seem like the worse thing in the world, but at the same time it does shake up your foundation because the place where you are supposed to feel the most safe, has been rocked. You can’t go back to thinking that your home is totally safe because something has jarred that experience. The higher the level of trauma that you have in your life, the more difficult things are for you and your brain is almost rewired by each incident of trauma.”
Monique Chandler-Waterman, a community activist and co-host of the PTSCI said, “Being a Black woman in itself is traumatic.” She went on to explain how we often are micro analyzed and feel the need to present ourselves as if we are perfect in our speech, dress, and grooming.
I can relate to Mrs. Chandler-Waterman’s statement because slavery has left an indelible mark of inferiority on being Black. White supremacy is often taught directly and indirectly in schools. From an early age, Black people are brainwashed into thinking they are less important than White people.
For this reason, it is very important for Black people to focus on wellness. Essentially, finding the positive in life and focusing on what is going right rather than what is going wrong. When we focus on what’s going right, we are able to find joy in life.
A trauma-informed educator will be able to help children in a non-judgmental, compassionate way that will uplift those who are experiencing the greatest atrocities amongst us. We have to be our brother’s keeper because we are only as strong as the weakest amongst us.
Teaching is the most important profession in the world because teachers shape the hearts and minds of the next generation.
The Parent Teacher Student Check In airs LIVE every Friday at 5:00 p.m. EST on the East Flatbush Village Facebook page. Dr. Shango A. Blake founded the show and serves as the co-host along with educator, George O. Patterson, community advocate Monique Chandler-Waterman, and clinical social worker, Chaka Phaire.
To watch the full episode of the Parent Teacher Student Check-In, click the link below: