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Counsel or Criminalize? Why Students of Color Need Support, Not Suspensions

September 22, 2016

This article addresses how mental health and counseling services in public schools have not kept pace with the staggering amount of students who are in need of mental and emotional support. Children of color are especially harmed by the nationwide shortage of school-based support programs. About 35 million children in the United States are living with emotional and psychological trauma, according to 2012 National Survey of Children's Health data available at the Data Resource Center. However, less than a third of these children have access to a school psychologist or even a social worker. African American, Hispanic, and Native American children are not only more likely to experience multiple traumas, but also to live in poverty. Even so, little attention has been paid to the link between trauma and disruptive behavior in classrooms. Rather than addressing behavioral issues through disciplinary action, schools should provide support to students who may be under severe psychological distress. The Data Resource Center has a strong focus on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and resilience, especially among children in Baltimore. Check out our ACEs resources at our website.