Boston Public Schools have received a $1.6 million federal grant through a partnership with the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance to be put toward helping students who are displaying early signs of trauma.
Attorney General Maura Healey released a statement saying that the grant would be used to continue the work being done by MOVA in support of those who were affected by the Boston Marathon bombings by allowing schools to afford the resources necessary to help both students and their families.
The money will go toward the expansion and allocation of resources for the program BPS CARES, which looks to help students who have been through a traumatic experience. In particular, trauma specialists will be placed at 10 schools in the district. The individuals will help to coordinate interventions with students who have experienced trauma. In addition, help will be offered to their families through referrals to partner organizations.
Schools were chosen based on academic status, chronic absenteeism rates, the degree of trauma experienced by students, and family instability. In all, nine schools enroll elementary and/or middle school students. The Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester was also chosen.
Forums will be available for families throughout the city to discuss the consequences associated with trauma, in addition to offering guidance for the management of trauma symptoms at home, reports Allison Pohle for Boston.com.
“Traumatic experiences impact learning, behavior, and relationships at all levels,” the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Social Emotional Learning and Wellness Amalio Nieves said in a statement. “Creating a trauma-sensitive community that fosters safe and healthy environments is critical, not only for our students’ performance in the classroom, but also for their well-being in their everyday lives.”
Healey’s statement on the grant said that young people needed support in order to handle trauma and violence if they were to have a chance to put a stop to such activities.
According to a study performed by Boston Children’s Hospital, 20% of students in the city have experienced at least two traumatic events in their lives, including experiences such as domestic violence, neighborhood violence, crime, or poverty, writes Chris Villani for The Boston Herald.
“Here at BPS, we continue to take the lead in supporting trauma response initiatives to help students and their families in times of crisis. Research shows that when left untreated, serious violence can have … lifelong impact on students, into adulthood,” said School Superintendent Tommy Chang. “It affects their ability to form healthy relationships, succeed in school, secure employment — and they have poor health outcomes.”
An interview with 17-year-old Nazeem Nelson uncovered an instance of urban violence witnessed by Nelson after he began to spend time with a group of friends. Nelson said he was skipping school and receiving F’s. It was only when he was transferred to Jeremiah E. Burke High School and took part in an intervention program that he turned his life around and becoming an honor roll student, writes Jeremy Fox for The Boston Globe.