There’s no such thing as a bad kid in these six Spokane, WA, trauma-informed elementary schools

What’s a trauma-informed school? It’s a place where this happens:

There’s this third-grade kid. Let’s call him Sam. He’s got ODD (oppositional defiant disorder…a misnomer for normal behavior a child exhibits when he’s living with chronic trauma).

Nine-year-old Sam (not his real name) is very smart. But sometimes he balked, dug his heels in deep, and refused to work in class. So his teacher sent him to see the principal. Often.

The teacher and the principal knew something about his home life. At night, Sam sleeps on a couch. Dad sleeps on the other couch. The TV’s on all day, all night. When Dad’s awake, he always has a computer in his lap. Mom drifts in and out of the home. His parents have little to do with their son. They rarely touch him.

“He obviously needed hugs, and I was giving him those,” says the principal. But it wasn’t quite getting Sam out of his funk or making enough of a dent in his class behavior. “One day, I was teasing him and as he moved away, I poked him a little,” she recalls. “He laughed, and his eyes lit up. I did it again, and he laughed, and loved it.” In fact, he howled with laughter, inviting more tickles.  

Not only was Sam not getting hugs at home, the principal realized, but his parents weren’t playing with him, either.

So, now Sam knows what he needs and where to get it. Three to five days a week, he walks into the principal’s office to be tickled and hugged.

“If people looked in and didn’t know what was going on, they would say I’m torturing this kid,” says the principal, because Sam rolls on the floor and shrieks with laughter. “It’s not usually what I do with kids. But he needs touch. So, I tickle him for a while. Then he falls into my lap, gets some hugs. Then he straightens up and says: ‘I’m ready to go to class.’” …

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#ChildAbuse, #ChildTrauma, #Solutions, #WashingtonState


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