It’s more complicated than that.
The main problem this bill address is that, while we have plenty of what it calls “evidence-based trauma-informed treatment” for survivors (we’ll get to that term in a minute), that therapy is rarely being implemented.
The solutions aren’t always as easy as they might sound. Many of the makeshift solutions we had in the past for misbehaving kids have turned out only to punish behavior, not to correct it.
For instance, imagine a child who is neglected at home and so he acts out in school for attention despite a teacher’s repeated warnings to stop. The overworked teacher, needing to gain control of the classroom, suspends the child. Unfortunately, while this removes the child’s distraction from a classroom, misbehaving children are often unclear on why they have been suspended. Then, as soon as they’re back in the classroom, they misbehave again.
In fact, we have therapy solutions that can not only stop behaviors that originated in trauma, but can help children understand why they should make a better decision next time.
Unfortunately, information about these kinds of therapy are not widely available from trusted sources, and trusted sources who do have evidence that these therapies work don’t have a convenient channel to release them nationwide to stop the “public health crisis of trauma.”
One of the most important functions of this bill is to create that channel by linking social service agencies, schools, and federal agencies to understand the nature of trauma and how to intervene in the lives of its survivors not only for their benefit but to effect change in the nationwide attitude toward resolving trauma. Trauma causes serious long-term problems both for the survivor and society.
On an individual level, the despair of trauma can lead to depression, trouble paying attention, anxiety, and behavioral problems in school. If left unchecked, these reactions can continue long enough to thwart a survivor’s education and social abilities, which can lead to everything from trouble making friends into adulthood to lifelong poverty and increased likelihood of incarceration or drug abuse.
On a social level, these higher rates of poverty, incarceration, and drug abuse carry a high cost to society. The social services required to maintain prisons, issue food stamps and unemployment, and hospitalize addicts are expensive. If it’s possible to stop trauma or alleviate it early on, the costs of these services to society could be lowered.