Our Children Deserve to be Exposed to Healthy Adults

January 15, 2018

Vi Waln


Lakota people have survived generations of historical trauma. Some seek professional help to overcome destructive behavior. There are also many Lakota people healing their inner trauma through ceremony.


However, there are many others still self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Other Lakota people engage in immature or inappropriate behavior because they don’t understand how trauma affects them. These people are treating others, including our children, badly.


Adults working in our schools carry their unresolved trauma into the school building. Many will unwittingly project the pain of their individual trauma on the students they work with. Local school boards are encouraged to deal with this serious issue by implementing a more thorough screening process of all applicants who have direct contact with students.


Professional school staff includes administrators, teachers and counselors. These staff members are required to have certain credentials before they are hired to work in a school. All school staff members are also required to pass a drug test and clear a criminal background investigation.


Consequently, many parents and grandparents want our local schools to hire emotionally intelligent staff. Our children are in dire need of exposure to adults who are emotionally intelligent. Yet, school boards are still putting professional, paraprofessional and support staff who don’t understand emotional intelligence to work in our schools.


There are many parents actively complaining about the behavior of staff members at our schools. However, it seems as though nothing is being done to resolve the complaints. School administrators defend their staff, even when their staff are in the wrong. When I worked in a local school, I witnessed the bad behavior exhibited by many staff members.


An example of bad behavior is when an administrator, teacher, paraprofessional or support staff member unofficially determines that a child is a “problem.” The unofficial determination in the adults’ mind affects every future interaction they have with the student. For instance, the employee forever judges the student as a “problem,” giving up any faith in the learning ability of the student.


Body language is a way to gauge what is going on inside another person. Those of us who watch body language closely, can easily see how students are judged by watching how the principals, teachers, paraprofessionals or support staff react.


For example, the facial expression of an adult visibly changes when they see the “problem” student in the hallway or when the student enters the classroom. Our children are smart, they know when an administrator or a member of the teaching or paraprofessional or support staff has labeled them as a “problem.” Most of the time, the student will work hard to live up to that negative label they’ve been given by the school employee. It’s a vicious cycle.


Another example of body language I witnessed happened when I went into a local school recently to visit with an administrator. While I was in the office, a staff member came in with a very surly look on his face. He didn’t smile or say hello to either one of us, he just dropped a piece of paper on the principal’s desk and walked out. He looked pure miserable to me.


The obvious look on his face showed me that he didn’t want to be there. The incident made me regret the choice of school my Takoja picked to attend. It made me wonder if all the staff members’ faces looked like his. I felt bad for our children, who suffer having to look at adult faces like that every school day.


Adults who want to work in schools need lots of training. Specific training should be required in the effects of trauma. Other in-service must be offered in emotional intelligence because when you have staff members who lack this crucial skill, the students have zero faith in them. The student will continue to challenge the staff member and then laugh at the bad behavior they’ve provoked in the adult.


Our schools must also get serious about employing alcohol and drug free individuals. We live in a very small world and our children know which school employees are using drugs and which ones are heavy drinkers.


Many parents would like to see every staff member submit to a breathalyzer before they can clock in. We would feel a lot safer if we knew for sure that staff members aren’t showing up hungover at school. We would also like to see policies updated to have more frequent drug tests for all staff, as well as school board members.


Our students must walk through a metal detector when they enter the school building every morning. It’s too bad there isn’t a detector which school staff can walk through to measure their level of emotional intelligence, or their tendency to judge our children, or if they have alcohol and drug residual in their body.


Our children deserve to be exposed to healthy adults to help them grow into the tribal leaders they are destined to be.



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Published by Vi Waln


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