Some young people who have experienced armed conflict may be traumatised, meaning they continue to experience mental distress in their everyday lives. Not all young people who have experienced dangerous or scary events are “traumatised” however, and trauma itself can take different forms.
The role of educators is not to provide therapy, so if you think a young person experiencing post-traumatic stress, you may want to investigate other ways to help. However, a calm consistent environment can “buffer” the experience of trauma, helping minimise distress. Educators may also be in position to help identify trauma in the behaviour of young people, looking out for the behaviours listed in the box.
You will probably know your class well, but before exploring a serious issue such as drone warfare, you may need to know more about your pupils’ previous experience.
Speak to parents or key pastoral staff, sharing your plans and taking advice. There may be general adjustments made for the young person, or specific ones linked to Fly Kites Not DrtonesThis might be providing alternative activities for the pupil, but not necessarily.
And of course, find an opportunity to speak to the young person one-to-one to check their comfort levels.
Discussion in circle time can be a good way for young people. If the expectations or contract you have for circle time are being met, it can act as a safe space for young people can understand and express their feelings.
Make sure there is a way for young people who would like to step back from the activity to do so unobtrusively, and monitor their responses (including non-verbal cues) to the content which may lead you to suggest they step back.
Where young people with experience of violent conflict feel able, you can give them a voice to share their experiences. This can focus on positive experiences: What was their favourite thing about that country? What did they play? What did they eat? Having someone with direct experience in the group can help avoid generalisations and provide a healthy opportunity for them to talk about their experiences and be the "expert". This could involve discussion as well as more creative ways to explore the topics including drama or music.
Headlines: War and Conflict - Tackling Controversial Issues in the Classroom by Marguerite Heath (2010) | http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/headlines-war-and-conflict-9781408113578/
Aiming High: Guidance on supporting the Education of Asylum Seeking and Refugee Children | http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130401151715/http://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/DfES-0287-2004.PDF
Strategies to support the child of a refugee background | http://www.psych4schools.com.au/excerpt/refugee
Emotional Well Being | NALDIC | http://www.naldic.org.uk/eal-teaching-and-learning/outline-guidance/ealrefugee/refem
Students from Refugee Backgrounds: A Guide for Teachers and Schools | https://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/ell//refugees_teachers_guide.pdf
Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators | http://www.nctsn.org/resources/audiences/school-personnel/trauma-toolkit
Peacemakers | In Focus:Teaching Controversial Issues | http://www.peacemakers.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Peacemakers-Annual-Report-2014.pdf
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