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Children are hurting and we can help

  I was at a meeting with another professional and trying to explain what my practice does to help children in schools. His reply was—Are there that many crazy kids in schools? I was struck by the insensitive and erroneous assumptions. Why do some adults equate children who are hurting with being ‘crazy.’ It’s statements like this that perpetuate stigma and the misunderstanding of behavioral and emotional problems in children. One hundred percent of the children we provide services to are hurting. Their hurt can be the result of many things, including, but not limited to, exposure to trauma, substance abuse, homelessness, food insecurity, abuse, neglect, divorce, poverty and many other issues. The CDC reports that over 20 percent of children in any given school at any given time have an untreated mental health disorder. That means if there are 300 students in a school, at least 60 of them have an untreated psychological or emotional disorder. As one might imagine, this can be disruptive to the learning environment, but the pressure on a hurting child to ‘act right,’ behave, learn is enormous, too. Therapists are trained to help children become more efficient in being able to identify, and appropriately express their emotions. We call this emotional literacy. During counseling, children learn how to regulate their responses to triggers. Hurt children sometimes tend to overreact to seemingly ordinary situations. Sometimes this overreaction is physical aggression, and other times its emotional outbursts, or verbal attack. These children cannot merely–Sit down and behave. The skills to do this aren’t yet developed in a child who has endured painful or damaging experiences. CCD therapists work in schools. We work with children who are hurting. Sometimes it’s not evident that a child is hurting. Here are some signs: withdrawn, bullying, academic failure, high rate of absenteeism, sleeping in class, fighting, defiance, self-harm, perfectionism. These are the children we help. We provide consistency, boundaries, warmth, acceptance, and evidence-based expertise to improve behavior, emotional literacy, and academic improvement. If you’re concerned about a child, call us. We can help children in school or our Newark office. We accept many insurance plans including Medicaid.
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Center for Child Development
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