Unfortunately, "support structures" and "second chances" are severely lacking for many in America today, particularly in minority and low-income communities. The United States has the most prisoners of any developed country in the world, both in terms of raw numbers and by percentage of the population. More citizens are behind bars in the US than in Russia, Mexico, Iran, India and China.
Who makes up America's prison population? Often inmates are adults who endured terrible violence and trauma as children, such as witnessing a parent's murder. A study by The Sentencing Project found that juveniles who received sentences of life in prison reported witnessing violence in their homes 79% of the time, and more than half (54.1%) witnessed weekly violence in their neighborhoods.
Children who are exposed to violence tend to suffer from a range of psychological issues, and often have "difficulties with attachment, regressive behavior, anxiety and depression and conduct problems." Without mental health support services, few are able to cope with the emotional stress in a productive manner on their own. Confused, angry or scared, a student's cries for help are commonly first expressed by acting out in school.
Regrettably, a school's frequent response to a student's "misbehavior" is ineffectual: just when the young person needs support and professional help the most, they are suspended, kicked back to the streets alone and vulnerable. According to the US Department of Education, the number of students who receive some form of academic suspension in America each year could fill 45 Super Bowl stadiums.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
We need more of these programmes
Suspension Is Not the Answer: Investing in Students' Mental Health Yields Academic Gains