A report released by the Lastinger Center for Learning at the University of Florida shows glaring disparities in trauma training for K-12 students and school employees across various districts in Florida.
One can imagine that the story is the same elsewhere in the country as well. In-depth analysis and mapping patterns of adolescent trauma show how the lack of trauma support can be detrimental for students, families, and districts as a whole.
In the 29 districts surveyed, the researchers found that there was no uniform curriculum or training method for district personnel to help children who have experienced trauma.
One could say that the training differed, but mostly they found that there is no clarity in what kind of training should be offered in the first place. This lack of consistency is disturbing in light of recent shootings and makes the need for a statewide framework all the more imperative.
The map includes trauma intervention and prevention programs per county, and the results are telling. It contained a Risk Factor Rating Score (RFRS) for different counties, which showed how counties and districts with more risk have the fewest programs to tackle trauma. Meanwhile, counties like Broward, which has one of the lowest risk factor scores in Florida, has over two dozen programs in place.
The study on current trauma-informed care training was assigned by the Florida Legislature. It is an attempt to reflect on current practices and to identify opportunities for improvement in the area of trauma-informed care training available in the state of Florida.
The research is highly pertinent in light of recent crises on school campuses around the country. With improved systems in place, trained teachers and counselors can play a critical and better role in supporting social and emotional well-being in their students. Students in high-risk counties who have been exposed to trauma have higher rates of anxiety and depression, behavioral problems, and aggression
In another study, a nationwide analysis was done on how current public-school policies address student needs. It shows that, despite the spike in mass school shootings and an increasingly adverse climate of an opioid epidemic on campuses, only 11 states encourage their school districts to train their personnel and have a solid system in place to tackle the effects of trauma or have policies on suicide prevention.
In such a scenario, the role of the guidance counselor has become even more critical. They should be given more focused training on this subject, and they can then share the same with teachers and other school administrators.
Proponents of the cause have stated that schools need to adopt the same rigor for standardization in evaluating mental health resources as they have for additional security. This would go a long way to mitigate potential tragedies related to emotional and social safety.