The efficacy of schools’ trauma-informed approach remains unclear. A 2022 study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma concluded there is a “dearth of robust research designs evaluating the implementation of trauma-informed care … within the education system.” But the approach can “lead to improved staff well-being,” the study noted, given some early evidence that trauma-informed training boosts teachers’ attitudes, effectiveness and preparedness.
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The Post spent a year inside Richmond’s Huguenot High School to document how one campus is approaching this intractable problem. It was a difficult and tragic stretch for Huguenot, which serves roughly 1,500 students: In 2022-2023, the school saw two students shot to death, another wounded by gunfire and a third accused of shooting his sister, according to more than a dozen people associated with the district. The Post followed administrators, teachers, students and parents from the moment of Jaden’s death in January to Huguenot’s graduation in June, when another student died in a spray of bullets as he emerged from the ceremony.
It’s a hard read and there are no clear answers.
In Richmond, Jones will have to come up with a more definite answer soon. Richmond funded much of its trauma-related work with pandemic dollars — money given by the state and federal government to help schools cope with virus chaos. It must be spent by September of next year. At that point, the district will have to decide what to keep and what to eliminate, including mental health staff positions. Pandemic cash had enabled the hiring of an additional eight counselors, two psychologists and three social workers across the district.
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