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Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 7:00 pm
Reader praises Press’ history articles
Although I haven’t lived in Martin since 1982, I still have family and friends living there. Recently, I have been reading articles of the past history of Martin and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Even though I was a child or young adult growing up in Martin, I remember some of the people mentioned in the stories as well as stories from family members.
As a young teenager and adult I worked at McAdoo’s Pharmacy, Liberty Supermarket, Dairy Queen, Merit Clothing and my last position at The Martin Bank. As I read the stories and articles, I can still see some of the people I met over the years.
Martin has a very special place in my heart and will always be home to me. I hope you will continue to share the memories in your articles of this special town and its people.
Lu Ann Cavin Dinwiddie,
Reader wonders what traumatizes children
I am writing in response to an article that was printed in the Feb. 14 edition of the Weakley County Press. In that article, the writer, Lindsey Tanner, addressed current issues related to the treatment of trauma in young people. The question posed in the title of the article was this: “What heals traumatized kids?”
I wish I knew, in full, the answer to that question. Traumatized kids are miserable; they miss out on the joy and magic that is supposed to characterize childhood. Traumatized kids often create misery in the lives of those around them as they react irrationally to the inevitable stresses of life. We all wish we knew the answer because, as we can easily see in our world today, traumatized kids become traumatized adults who perpetuate the acts that originally created their own pain and fear.
The article to which I refer provides information from a report that was generated by the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This reports suggests that “about two-thirds of the U.S. children and teens younger than 18 will experience at least one traumatic event.” If we include obviously disturbing events such as shootings, physical attacks and beatings, sexual assaults, car accidents, and weather-related issues as well as the less obvious — growing up in a home in which alcoholism or other drug addiction is present, or where domestic violence occurs, or where poverty grinds away daily at the stability of the home, or where depression, fear, and anxiety are rampant — then we have no difficulty agreeing with the sad likelihood that such a high percentage of children will experience trauma in some form.
When a child experiences physical trauma such as a broken arm or a diseased lung or liver, we immediately seek a medical professional who readily proceeds with a plan that has been proven effective in previous similar situations. The problem with emotional trauma is the lack of historic evidence that one or another treatment is truly effective. As stated in the report being quoted, “It’s just that no one knows which treatments are best, or if certain ones work better for some children but not others.” Later in the article William Copeland, a psychologist and researcher at Duke University Medical Center, states, “We don’t really have a gold standard treatment right now ... a lot of doctors and therapists may be patching together a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and that might not add up to the most effective treatment for any given child.”
And so it is. Speaking as one of the therapists who struggles daily to “patch together a little bit of this and a little bit of that” in order to treat traumatized youth, I agree that I wish there was a proven, effective, one-size-fits-most treatment modality that I could rely upon. But there is not.
Cognitive behavioral treatment, when used by counselors and teachers in a school setting is dubiously considered to be the best form of treatment known at this time. Of course it is. From the beginning of formal instruction, teachers and coaches have been masters of cognitive behavioral skills. I frequently hear my son-in-law roar from his coaching position on the sidelines of the Westview Lady Chargers, “What were you thinking?” The question is designed to change or stop a behavior (fouling, throwing the ball away) by changing a thought process. The frustrated coach is saying, “When you did that (behavior), your thinking patterns were really messed up (cognitive).” The coach has pointed out an error in thinking; he now expects that corrected error to result in a change of behavior — no more fouling, throwing away the ball, etc.
All day, every day, across our nation, teachers strive to help students perform better by thinking better. But harried teachers and counselors who are expected to serve incredibly large student loads do not have time to develop or implement the desperately needed programs that might actually offer help to children and teen-agers who are suffering.
There are 4 year-olds in pre-K classes who already display symptoms of trauma. They may be crying endlessly, or screaming, or fighting, or hiding, or sitting in frozen silence. There are 10 year-olds who imagine killing themselves in order to avoid another night of the horrors of home. There are 14 year-olds who strive to remain in a drug-induced haze to forget the crimes that they have committed and that have been committed against them. These kids need help. Now, not later. Before they are forced into treatment centers such as the one in which I work, where they finally they receive emotional and behavioral help they needed many years earlier. But where can that help come from?
I have asked myself that question a thousand times. In my imagination I build academies in every community at which children of all ages may receive educational training as well as emotional treatment. In these lovely academies I imagine class sizes and case loads that never reach double-digits. Teachers and trained professional assistants work with very small groups of kids, helping them develop basic skills before introducing them to more complex learning — even if the kids they are teaching happen to be seventeen years old.
Counselors and psychiatrists work together in my imaginary academy to search for the right combination of treatment styles that work effectively for each child. Family members are required to be involved in their child’s treatment and are offered treatment for their own problems. Because most traumatized kids come from traumatized parents, it is essential that the home environment be improved if a child is going to improve. If the parents don’t stop fighting or drinking or selling and producing drugs or sleeping away their days in a stupor of depression, the kids stand little chance of breaking free from the deadly cycle of family habits.
How can these imaginary academies become a reality? By making shifts in existing programs and “re-purposing” existing buildings. By shifting the latter-end costs of incarceration to front-end costs of prevention. By quietly setting aside an area or areas for students who are identified as showing behavioral or emotional problems and separating them from the students who, blessedly, are functioning well, in order to provide the struggling students with the structure, support and treatment they need.
I recall being ordered out of an intensive care ward on more than one occasion when a patient needed only the presence of medical staff who could tend to her immediate needs. Later, after the patient had been helped through the crisis, I was allowed to visit once again. That’s how it is with kids in school who are in “crisis” mode; they need a place in which all the bystanders are gone and only those who can help are present. Admittedly, “crisis mode” for some students may last for years. The damage they may have sustained as infants and very young children might call for long-term protection and very specialized treatment. But it would be so good, in most cases, if that treatment could be obtained during a typical school week, without having to be removed from the home and the community and suffering the ensuing heartbreak and loneliness.
While my imaginary academies serve the needs for the profoundly affected students, the students who are able to function well on a daily basis but whose minds and hearts are in torment are still unaddressed. What about these kids? The ones whose grades are good, who have no obvious behavioral problems, and who smile and seem to be just fine, but who spend sleepless nights struggling with the same issues that have destroyed many of their peers. What can be done for them?
We can create pockets in our school programs, as many schools in our nation are doing now, that are devoted to the development of coping skills, identification of personal triggers and weaknesses, learning how to deal with grief and loss. We can provide professional counseling that is part of group curriculums and that can readily direct individual students to individual counselors. So many school counselors may be found buried beneath piles of paperwork — financial aid forms, scholarship requests, test results, class schedules. They have no time to tend to the emotional needs of students.
But even if the lovely academies were built and each school came equipped with several highly trained counselors whose caseloads were of a realistic nature, would that be enough? I think there must be more.
Working with boys whose behaviors include intense drug abuse, repetitive suicide attempts, armed robbery, attempted homicide, theft, destruction of property, and whose emotional and physical abuses cannot even be publicly described, I have found no sure cure for any child other than prayer. Prayer uttered from my despairing lips that God himself would breathe healing into the shattered minds and hearts of boys who otherwise will remain utterly broken. Talk therapy can help some; writing out thoughts and feelings may help others. The one trauma therapy that I use regularly and which, with God’s blessing, is able to bring rapid and permanent healing to painful memories and trauma-induced mental blockages is known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This treatment is a true gift of God and can create almost miraculous results; but so few have access to it. So I pray. So we pray.
As the parents, grandparents, aunt and uncles of children whose lives are being blighted by conditions and events over which they have no control, we can engage in the one truly effective treatment for all injuries. We can pray. When working with the boys who are in residential treatment I can almost immediately detect the effects of prayer upon a wayward youth. No matter how viciously he may be cursing, or how violently he may be fighting, there is a spot in him that is able to be reached — even against his will. When I detect one of these “spots” I direct my work and my prayers upon it. Given time, when the boy settles down a bit and begins to talk, he will throw out a statement such as, “My Grandma is always telling me that God loves me. She’s one of those people who pray all the time.” And I can see the evidence of Grandma’s (or mamma’s or daddy’s or granddaddy’s) prayers. They have carved an opening, however small, though which I may bring light to their boy who sits in darkness.
Prayer. It is the tool of dedicated parents, teachers, police officers, judges, counselors, coaches, social workers. Where there is more prayer, there is less darkness, less destruction.
In our county and in our country, we can use our prayers in much the same way we use bleach. When we have a really stubborn growth of mold or mildew in our home, we know that if all else fails — all the nice-smelling cleaners couldn’t win the war against the nasty mold — we can bring out the chlorine bleach. And we know that when the bleach hits the mold, the mold is going to perish. The power of bleach is greater than the power of mold.
So let us bleach out the mold of society with the bleach of prayers to God, employing the name of Jesus Christ as our right of petition. Each of us may “spray” the power of God upon our schools by calling out to God for them to be protected, for the Spirit of God to hover in every classroom, hallway, and restroom. We can make it a habit to drive by our local schools, praying for God’s hedge of protection to surround each building, each bus, each playground. We can tell individual teachers that we are calling out his or her name before the Lord, asking for God to bless them with wisdom and strength.
Things are not as “bad” here in rural Tennessee as they might be. There is still a general air of safety and order in our towns and our schools. Granted, there is much trouble swirling just under the surface, but our children are still free from the imminent danger of death when they step out of their homes. This is not the case in other places in our country. The restraining power of prayer still holds sway here in Weakley County. But in order to maintain this level of safety and then to turn the surging tide of destruction that seeks to sweep away our children, we all must wield our great weapon of war—prayer. Let us all, together, saturate our schools and our children with the bleaching power of the name of Jesus.
I recently heard a young police officer in Madison County, Tennessee, speak in desperate tones as he said, in reference to juvenile crime in Jackson, “There is a church on every corner in this city. Can’t they do something to help us?” Our answer must be yes.
State senators should have supported bill
I attended a meeting of the State Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 27. I think I’m still in shock. I was very interested in Sen. Mae Beavers Senate Bill 250. This Bill would make it a crime (was amended from second class felony to a misdemeanor) in Tennessee to enforce (unconstitutional) laws against our second amendment. You might think it would be a slam dunk for a Republican super majority. Not so. I listened to at least 90 minutes of argument and testimony. There are 9 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and with Senator Ophelia Ford absent the vote ended in a tie vote at 4 to 4 so the Bill stays in committee and will be brought back up for another vote. It is very unlikely that Senator Ford will vote for this Bill. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this Bill. It answers the question, “will our state government protect us from a runaway, out of control federal government usurping unconstitutional power?” The answer is almost certainly going to be no. I feel like there should be a drum roll when giving you the position of those senators who voted against the bill. Are you ready for this? The four senators who voted against the bill took the position that it is unconstitutional for a state to oppose unconstitutional federal law. Their opinion is, and the statement that was made by Chairman Kelsey is that “the supremacy clause in the constitution overrides the tenth amendment.”
If the supremacy clause overrides the tenth amendment it overrides all 27 constitutional amendments in which case our federal government, using the supremacy clause, could nullify our Bill of Rights. This should leave you something to think about. What is important to learn from the actions of the Senate Judiciary Committee is that our state government under Bill Haslam is not going to protect us from unconstitutional federal law. Also you need to know and memorize the names of the four Senators who refused to protect our second amendment and tenth amendment rights as a state, Senators Brian Kelsey (Collierville), Doug Overbey (Maryville), Lowe Finney (Jackson) and our very own John Stevens (Huntingdon). It is my opinion in this matter that Governor Haslam has flagged this Bill. The Governor has his sights set on Washington and does not want to make a stand against federal usurpation of unconstitutional power. Further, he does not want to be put in the politically damaging position to have to veto SB250 therefore he has directed legislators who “feed at his trough” to kill the Bill. I firmly believe the Bill will be defeated in one of the Senate or House committees. To keep our constitutional republic it is essential that citizens involve themselves in our government. Get involved.
Gibson County Patriots
Published in The WCP 3.5.13
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