The Power of Deescalation in Schools: Preventing Physical Interventions with Children who have experienced Trauma
Working with children who have experienced trauma can be extremely challenging, and when these students become agitated or aggressive, it can be tempting to use physical interventions to control the situation. However, research shows that deescalation is a much more effective approach. In this article, we will discuss the importance of deescalation in schools, particularly for students who have experienced trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). We will also define attachment disorder and ACEs.
Attachment Disorder and Adverse Childhood Experiences
Attachment disorder is a term used to describe a condition where children struggle to form healthy relationships due to early trauma or neglect. Children with attachment disorder may struggle to trust others, may be overly clingy or avoidant of adults, and may struggle to regulate their emotions. Attachment disorder is often the result of early trauma or neglect, and it can have long-lasting effects on a child’s mental health and wellbeing.
Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are negative experiences that occur during childhood that can have long-lasting negative effects on a child’s development. These can include abuse, neglect, exposure to violence, and household dysfunction. ACEs are common, and they can have a significant impact on a child’s physical and mental health throughout their life.
The Importance of Deescalation
When a student becomes agitated or aggressive, it can be tempting to use physical interventions to control the situation. However, research shows that deescalation is a much more effective approach, particularly for students who have experienced trauma or ACEs. Deescalation involves using verbal and nonverbal techniques to help the student calm down and regulate their emotions.
Deescalation techniques can include:
- Remaining calm and non-threatening
- Using active listening skills
- Offering choices
- Using humor or distraction
- Allowing the student to take a break
These techniques can help the student feel heard and respected, which can prevent the situation from escalating further. By using deescalation techniques, schools can promote a sense of safety and trust among students, which can help to build a positive school culture.
The Risks of Physical Interventions
Physical interventions, such as restraint or seclusion, should only be used as a last resort. These interventions can be traumatic for students, particularly those who have experienced trauma or ACEs. Physical interventions can also cause physical harm, which can lead to legal and ethical consequences for the school and staff involved.
When physical interventions are necessary, it is essential that they are carried out safely and ethically. This requires proper training and protocols, as well as ongoing monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the interventions are effective and do not cause harm.
Deescalation is an essential approach for schools to use when working with students who have experienced trauma or ACEs. By using deescalation techniques, schools can prevent the need for physical interventions, which can be traumatic for students and have legal and ethical consequences for the school and staff involved. Attachment disorder and ACEs are serious issues that require a trauma-informed approach. By prioritizing deescalation, schools can create a safe and supportive environment for all students to learn and grow.
It is also important for schools to provide trauma-informed care and support for students who have experienced trauma or ACEs. This can include providing access to mental health services, creating a supportive and inclusive school environment, and promoting positive relationships between students and staff. By taking a trauma-informed approach, schools can help to promote healing and recovery for students who have experienced trauma, and create a safe and supportive environment for all students to thrive.