Have you wanted to reach out to the students in your school who need help, but don’t know why they are really hurting? Child abuse can have detrimental effects on their schooling, through mental health, behavioural and/or learning difficulties.
I have worked in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors as a literacy and numeracy teacher, then a school chaplain. I have seen first-hand the impact struggles--inside and outside of school--can have on a child’s education.
Personally, I have experienced abuse, both as a child at home and as an adult in the workplace. I was bullied at school, then later experienced my own children, and students, being bullied. As a chaplain,I became even more aware of child and partner abuse in the home, while I was witnessing its negative effects on children. When I speak to staff, I discuss how to recognise different types of bullying, even in its more subtle forms; and the long-term impacts this has on children and their behaviour.
I also share how the school bullies are often victims of abuse themselves, and how we can support them, as well as those they bully.
Are you concerned about how students are managing the pressures of study while wanting to fit in with their peer groups? 14% of Australian children and adolescents, aged 4-17, suffer from depression (Australia Counselling).
It is natural for parents to want the best for their children but how do they know whether their expectations are realistic? My daughter was happy at school but it all came tumbling down in year 11 as the pressures of VCE set in. My second daughter left school with little idea what she wanted to do next. I talk about how we can support our children throughout their school life, providing the right amount of help, whilst reducing the risk of overwhelming them with pressure to succeed.
I encourage parents to find constructive ways to walk alongside their children throughout their 13 years of school and beyond; providing an appropriate level of support and a place of emotional security.
Are your students hurting? Are they holding onto secrets? Do they know why they are hurting? Children suffering abuse are often afraid to tell anyone, in case they are punished. Alternatively, they may think this abuse is 'normal behaviour'. I work with whole classes or small groups. Using stories and other non-threatening, age-appropriate activities, I encourage students to find an adult with whom they feel comfortable to discuss their fears and concerns.