Telethon funding helps schools educate traumatised kids
Telethon is funding an innovative research project encouraging WA schools to take a “thoughtful” approach to traumatised kids.
When children are unruly, schools typically send them out of the class or suspend them. But according to the Thoughtful Schools Project — a research initiative run by the University of Western Australia — so-called “naughty” behaviour is often a symptom of trauma.
“Many of the children who experience adversity or trauma, or have a disability, behave in ways that can be challenging,” lead researcher Dr Karen Martin said.
“Many schools just don’t have the resources they need to help these children, or don’t know how. We just want to help schools understand how (trauma) can influence children and provide ways they can respond that keeps everyone safe, but is supportive for everyone.”
The new Telethon-funded Child’s Voice project will help puzzle out this challenging behaviour — by talking to kids themselves.
“We’re going to interview about 50 children from around the State,” Dr Martin said. “We really want to make sure that children have a voice in what they think schools do really well, and what they think is stressful in a school environment. We often don’t listen to children and we want to hear what they have to say.”
Researchers will ask children questions about what they like about school, what an ideal school would look like and what stresses them out.
The results will then be collated and used to create a toolkit to help teachers.
Sadly, such research has never been more urgent. Over the course of the pandemic, the number of children experiencing trauma has rocketed.
Between March and May last year, the Kids Helpline reported an additional 3346 child counselling contacts compared with the same period the year before.
The Kids Helpline also reported a 26.5 per cent increase in contacts by children relating to child abuse, mental health and self-harm/suicidality in March to May last year compared with 2019.
So the Child’s Voice Project is a step in the right direction.
“This is an opportunity to help children thrive,” Dr Martin said. “The Telethon support is vital to that.”
The project is just one of the many beneficiaries of this year’s Telethon. The fundraising spectacular will return on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, October 16-17, hosted at Crown Perth and Optus Stadium.
It will be broadcast live for 26 hours, marking a return to the pre-COVID Telethon tradition. Last year, the event raised a record-breaking $46 million.
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