“Books and Bullets” Looks at Neighborhood Violence and Learning

In a three part series Books and Bullets, KQED News in Oakland, CA examines how chronic violence in some neighborhoods impacts children and their learning and highlights TLPI as one organization “working to prevent violence and help children and youth exposed to chronic violence succeed in school”.

Nine-year-old Jacqueline Funes was in [Melissa] Morales’ class last year, before being shot in her front yard and left paralyzed. Jacqueline’s shooting brought a lot of other trauma to the surface.

“During our community meetings, it would come up. One of my students said, ‘I’ve had three family members pass this year, I’ve gone to three funerals this year.’ Another would say, ‘I had this family member shot and died,’ ” says Morales [a third-grade teacher at Community United Elementary School in Oakland].

The district sent crisis counselors after Jacqueline was shot, and Morales made sure each of her students was able to talk about what happened, either one-on-one or in a group. But after that week, the school was back to one counselor.

“That counselor only sees students that are on Medi-Cal already,” says Morales. “She was not able to open any new cases. Which means, after Jacqueline was shot, none of my students received any further counseling beyond that week.”

Morales knows that even with more counselors, there still won’t be enough therapy for all the kids who need it. Researchers and advocates point to creating “trauma-sensitive schools,” where all the teachers and staff understand the effects of trauma and how to teach children who live with it. …

Click here to read more from “Books and Bullets”.

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