Adverse Childhood Experiences: How Incidents From the Past Affect a Student's Classroom Behavior Today

Adverse Childhood Experiences: How Incidents From the Past Affect a Student's Classroom Behavior Today

Alicia D. Johnson
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7473-7.ch001
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Childhood trauma is as American as apple pie. The statistics are sobering. In 2018, more than 673,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect. This chapter will explore adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in detail, relating how these past experiences could affect current student behavior. A case study will be used to illustrate the issues that teachers face in their classrooms. Research shows that trauma affects the brain and subsequently how people act and/or react. Emotional regulation, behavioral control, and cognitive processes that are affected by trauma will be explored. Further, this chapter will raise the issues of racial disproportionality in identification and labeling of behavioral disorders and recommendations for special education among students who may have been exposed to trauma. Lastly, recommendations for best practice will be outlined to support educators in the field.
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Manifestation Of Trauma In Children: A Case Study

“He hates me!” I tried to grasp the gravity of the situation while watching the first-grade teacher feverishly clean up a bevy of crayons and papers off the floor. “I swear, he hates me! He never treated Barb like this.” There was a mix of hurt and anger in her words. “He can’t hate you, Bonnie…it’s only the second day of school!” She continued her diatribe, asserting the “facts” that proved her new student had a particular aversion to her. It was as if I hadn’t said a word.

“When other kids talk, he seems to listen. When I start talking, he tunes out. I tried to use proximity to get him back on task, but that only seemed to upset him. So… I call on him and he ended up ripping his paper to pieces and then put his head down.” This explained the papers strewn across her floor. She went on. “When I told him that he’d have to stay in at recess to make up the work and clean up the mess, he flipped over his desk and tried to run out of the room! I had to call Mr. Watson to come and get him.”

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cultural Competence: A lifelong journey to increase/improve one’s skills or knowledge in a culture other than their own, thus improving one’s understanding and respect of that culture.

De-Escalation: Behaviors or strategies that are used to calm one down after a heightened state of arousal.

Trauma: A psychological or emotional response to a highly stressful event that is beyond a person’s ability to cope.

Disproportionality: A group’s representation in a category that exceeds expectations given their total percentage of that particular population; when a group’s representation differs widely from the representation of others in a certain category.

Emotional Regulation: The ability to control one’s emotions, even during times of stress; the ability to regain composure once one has been stressed (angry, afraid, excited, nervous, etc.).

ACEs: An acronym that stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences; experiences that children witness or are a party to that can negatively impact an individual across their lifetime.

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