Schools in South Africa face enormous difficulties with limited funding, staff shortages, overcrowded classrooms and facilities that are not suitable for children.
In addition, most children come from families or communities where violence is an everyday phenomenon. Broken families, domestic violence, alcohol and drugs abuse, physical and emotional neglect and abuse, intimidation and crime are only some of the negative experiences that children face.
The behaviour of children in school and the classroom is often cited as a major challenge for teachers and it is common for children to be referred for either educational assessment (for learning difficulties) or psychological assessment (for ADHD or conduct disorders). However, the behaviour of children who are exposed to adverse childhood experiences are often similar to syndromes such as ADHD or conduct disorders. When the prevalence of ADHD is much higher in some classrooms and in some schools, it warrants further investigation. Too often children are referred for assessment with the clear intention for them to receive medication in the hope that it will suppress some of the agitated behaviours seen in the classroom.
There is also good news. There is A LOT that teachers and schools can do to address the negative effects of trauma. The best place to start is with information. For this reason I am offering free talks to schools in Port Elizabeth on the topic of Challenging Childhood Behaviour and Trauma. To take me up on this offer, simple send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.