“Recent neurobiological, epigenetics, and psychological studies have shown that traumatic experiences in childhood can diminish concentration, memory, and the organizational and language abilities children need to succeed in school. For some children, this can lead to problems with academic performance, inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and difficulty forming relationships. Learning about the impacts of trauma can help keep educators from misunderstanding the reasons underlying some children’s difficulties with learning, behavior and relationships. “https://traumasensitiveschools.org/trauma-and-learning/the-problem-impact/
For the children who have gone through a school shooting, that school turns into a battleground; a trauma trigger sparking fear and dread. The school building houses the danger the child has experienced. A school should be a creative, inspiring place to learn, but a shooting/threat can change all that.
As adults, we are aware of the coping mechanisms we manifest to survive. But for a child, this world is filled with threats. It’s confusing and terrifying.
Coping skills are acquired throughout our lives, but as parents, and teachers we can help our children/students by teaching these very important skills:
“Many of the effects of traumatic experiences on classroom behavior originate from the same problems that create academic difficulties: the inability to process social cues and to convey feelings in an appropriate manner. This behavior can be highly confusing, and children suffering from the behavioral impacts of trauma are often profoundly misunderstood. Whether a child who has experienced traumatic events externalizes (acts out) or internalizes (withdraws, is numb, frozen, or depressed), a child’s behavioral response to traumatic events can lead to lost learning time and strained relationships with teachers and peers.”
A school shooting, school lockdown and other traumatic events, will have lasting effects on a child. Some will become preoccupied with their physical appearance; putting too much self-worth on their looks. Eating disorders and psychological damaging behaviors can manifest out of trauma. Students who have experienced trauma can become unsure of adults, fellow students and become very distrustful of the security of the school, in general. We cannot blame them for that. We must encourage conversations with their peers, with their teachers and other supportive groups that they trust. If these fears go unaddressed, this emotional trauma will continue to develop and could create unhealthy relationships for the rest of their lives.
School shooting coverage on TV and how they are blatantly discussed on social media, is absolutely intense. It seems inescapable at times. We’ll hear about the shooting throughout the day, several days, whenever we look at a screen, turn on the radio or look at our phone. The constant inundation of this ‘news’ is intensifying the trauma, making us feel less safe by the minute. The anxiety grows and grows.
Psychologists describe anxiety as the body’s internal alarm system. But when this ‘alarm system’ is triggered too easily and too frequently, your body will start to alert you when there isn’t any actual danger at all.
The “long trail of trauma” sadly doesn’t just affect survivors of school shootings. It is affecting an entire generation of children who are growing up in the shadow of mass school shootings and lockdown drills — in ways that we cannot yet know or measure. It is also creating a generation of anxious and fearful parents.
I’m the mother of a 9-year-old girl. A few months ago I was driving my daughter to school when we saw a police car racing ahead of us and turning into the street on which her school is located.
“Mommy, is someone shooting people at my school?” she asked. My heart in my throat, I responded, “No, sweetie, someone is probably just being pulled over for speeding,” but inside, I was thinking the same thing.
While we impatiently wait for gun reform, the founders of Secur Shade have created a product to make a life-saving decision happen in 3 seconds. Our system simultaneously sends a message indicating a lockdown event with its location within the school to previously selected authorities – principal, security officer, police, DHS, etc.
We must do everything we can to prepare the students, teachers and families – with tools to process their anxieties, fears and traumas. The more we talk about this subject openly, the more we can begin the collective process of healing.