President Donald Trump’s threat to DACA could be negatively affecting the education of children of both immigrants and U.S. citizens.
“Young children exposed to five or more significant adverse experiences in the first three years of childhood face a 76% likelihood of having one or more delays in their language, emotional or brain development,” (Statistics, 2017) says The Mental Health Connection.
Delays caused by traumatic experiences translate into disruptive behavior when children enter the classroom. Aggression, vandalism, and theft are just some of the symptoms found in children suffering from trauma. This behavior does not only affect the students in question, but also hinders their teacher’s ability to educate other students.
“In a poll of AFT [American Federation of Teachers] teachers, 17 percent said they lost four or more hours of teaching time per week thanks to disruptive student behavior; another 19 percent said they lost two or three hours” (Disruptive).
Countless programs have been incorporated into schools to help teachers work with disruptive students, but there is only so much one instructor in charge of about sixteen children—the national pupil to teacher ratio—can do. In a classroom that size, one disruptive student is enough to delay the learning process for the entire class, but what if the number of children facing traumatic experiences increases?
This could be the case as President Trump’s crackdown on immigration implies a threat to Barack Obama’s 2012 program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). President Trump claims the program, which allows for undocumented children to obtain a renewable two-year work permit and relief from deportation, is safe. However, DACA recipients—also known as “dreamers”—are already experiencing anxiety, lack of sleep, and increased stress levels.
A survey conducted by United We Dream in 2015 revealed that, “a large percentage of DACA recipients are already parents of U.S. citizen children” (Perez, 2015). Though unintentional, the stress dreamers are under could potentially cause trauma to their children.
In David Cook’s book, Kids Pick Up on Everything: How Parental Stress is Toxic to Kids, he explained, “his theory that all the ills and ailments of today’s children — everything from asthma, diabetes and allergies, to ADHD, autism and learning disorders — are linked to the stress levels of their parents” (Miller, 2011).
The stress DACA recipients are experiencing may be transferred to their children. This stress could become trauma, leading to the child’s disruptive behavior in the classrooms, thereby preventing the child of the dreamer as well as the other students from learning.
Disruptive behavior: School based interventions [PDF]. (n.d.). Pittsburgh: Education Partnership, Inc.
“Fast facts.” (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2017, from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=28
“The mental and physical trauma of ‘Dreamers’ living with Trump’s deportation threats.” (2017, March 6). Retrieved March 11, 2017, from https://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/the-mental-and-physical-trauma-of-dreamers-living-with-trumps-deportation-threats/
Miller, F. (2011, November 04). “David Code Says Parental Stress Makes Kids Sick.” Retrieved March 11, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/04/stressed-parents-sick-kids_n_1075317.html
Pérez, Z. J. (2015, October). A portrait of deffered action for childhood arrivals recipients [PDF]. Advocacy & Policy Analyst, United We Dream.
“Statistics.” (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2017, from http://www.recognizetrauma.org/statistics.php