/Educators fear dramatic raids on first day of school will leave lasting trauma

Educators fear dramatic raids on first day of school will leave lasting trauma

Nonprofit Mississippi News Haga clic aqui para leer este articulo en espanol. John Woodard was a math teacher at Nichols Middle School, Canton, when ICE raids struck the Jackson metro area in 2017. Woodard still recalls the day counselors brought his Latino students to the library. It was not long after the raids. Woodard stated that he and his coworkers spent most of the day trying to make the children smile and calm them down. However, this was just the beginning of the challenges that the school would face when it came time to educate the children. Woodard stated that it changed the entire atmosphere at the school. He said that many students did not come to school because they were afraid, while those who did came were clearly distraught. Woodard stated that they couldn’t teach the students on the day the raids took place. They were almost done. It took us days to get them to pay attention to the lessons and feel comfortable enough to go back to school. Federal immigration raids can cause lasting trauma to the children of those detained. After Wednesday’s record-breaking raid in which 680 people were detained, educators and mental health advocates have begun to address the trauma. Erica Jones, president of Mississippi Association of Educators, stated Wednesday that the students had suffered “inconceivable” trauma. Jones spoke to reporters when they first heard about the raids. Jones stated that the raid would have a profound impact on their mental and emotional health. Jones explained to Mississippi Today that scientists have found that children’s brains change when they see violence in their homes or communities or are subjected to poverty, eviction and hunger. It is not clear what educators should do. U.S. attorney Mike Hurst stated that this raid was the “largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in the nation’s history”. The fact that Hurst’s office didn’t know how many children were affected by the raid “means we are really in new territory,” said Cathy Grace of the University of Mississippi’s Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning. Grace stated that teachers were being prepared to deal with these (matters) as it is not something that happens often in such dramatic fashion. Grace is referring to the dramatic manner in which federal officials executed the raids. They arrested people first, then alerted the schools. This was a departure from federal policy. Federal officials had not yet reached Mississippi’s child welfare agency as of Friday. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called the decision not to prioritize children “unacceptable”. Federal officials stated Thursday that they didn’t know the number of children who were affected by the raids. Schools have had to figure out who is in need of services. This, according to Canton Public Schools Superintendent Gary P. Hannah, makes it more difficult for schools to work with students. It’s hard to piece it all together.” On Thursday, the day following the 2017 raids in Canton, 70 students were not returning to school. Schools identified the students and referred 20 of those who returned Friday to counselors. Hannah acknowledged that knowing who needs help would be easier. A state-wide protocol is not in place for dealing with trauma. Therefore, school districts and state agencies have their own strategies. Local school districts claim they are trying to protect and secure their students regardless of their immigration status. For example, the Jackson Public School District acknowledged that recent raids and arrests in Mississippi by federal immigration officials have increased anxiety for students and their families. It also provided resources for administrators and educators with information on undocumented students, how to handle the topic, and information about ICE’s power to detain students or staff inside schools. Sherwin Johnson, a spokesperson for JPS, stated that the district has been in contact with the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance to provide information and resources. She also led discussions with school principals about how to assist those affected by the raids. Johnson stated that students learn best when they have positive, safe environments. Johnson stated that they are directing their schools and classrooms to foster a sense of belonging, trust and respect. Last fall, the Department of Mental Health was awarded a grant to provide mental health training to educators in schools across the state. The agency reached out to schools in all affected areas to offer the program again after the raids. Mississippi’s Child Protection Services agency stated that all of its employees have been trained in trauma informed care and are offering services to schools. They said that they are available to refer families and children to counseling. Hannah stated that this is the most important part. The raids have caused trauma and stress for many others, including the children whose parents were detained. Teachers, friends, and school custodians were all affected by the raids. It has an effect on everyone. Hannah stated that it will have a lasting impact on everyone. Woodard, a former math teacher, stated that he witnessed the effects of the raids on his students even though they weren’t directly affected by them. “In education, we are told to engage our students with the lessons. Woodard stated that this was done without hesitation. “That was thrown right out the door,” Woodard said. Mississippi Today has more coverage of the recent ICE raids on workplaces. 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