Children in today’s world face a slew of issues that children of yesteryear would never have seen. Divorce, drug addiction, social pressures, health issues, parents in crisis due to the economy, the issues of today’s youth are many. Add to that the pressures of the child to perform well in school; you now have a ticking time bomb.
With both parents working out of the home to make ends meet, many children are left to partially raise themselves. Mom and Dad have gone to work and little Johnny or Susie makes their own breakfast (usually cereal), gets dressed, and makes their way to the bus stop so they can get to school. After school they come home to an empty house, until Mom and Pop get home and start to argue about bills, or one parent drinks heavily while the other tries to keep the house together. Scenarios such as these are a large part of the reason why social workers and psychologists in the school system are so important.
A social worker who specializes in the school system can address many of the issues that a child in crises will face on an everyday basis. Many of the students who have been fortunate enough to work with a school psychologist or social worker will see that professional on a daily basis to work through their issues, which in turn will allow them to successfully negotiate their way through their school day. Other students may only need to talk that day about a particular situation which is not allowing them to focus on their school day, such as a fight with a parent or sibling. In either case the psychologist or social worker can talk the child through the issue and possibly meet with parents if the situation warrants a visit.
Many public school systems are experiencing severe budget cuts and unfortunately the first employees to go are usually the social workers and psychologists. Some families do not need the services of these employees, so they do not understand the benefits they provide to the school as a whole. What these parents often do not understand is that even if their child is not using the service, they are still experiencing the benefits. Children who do use the services of a social worker or school psychologist are able to work through their issues, which in turn will allow the child to remain calm in class and not disturb other students. This gives all the children in the class a chance to succeed and thrive in their school environment.
Children who are in crisis go to school every day with a disadvantage that other children just do not experience. It is extremely difficult for a child who is just learning to negotiate their way through life to deal with emotional issues, and do well in school at the same time. If our society wishes to see its children succeed and become the confident successful adults of tomorrow, we will need to invest in not only their education but their emotional needs today.