HuffPost What's Working Honor Roll: Why Suspension Is Not The Answer For Students Acting Out In School

As journalists, we dutifully report on what's going wrong, from scandals and corruption to natural disasters and social problems. But far too often the media fails to show the whole picture, neglecting to tell the stories of what is working. From scientific breakthroughs to successful crime-reduction initiatives, the What’s Working Honor Roll highlights some of the best reporting and analysis, from a range of media outlets, on all the ways people are working toward solutions to some of our greatest challenges.

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In many school systems, the solution to a child acting out is suspension. In states like Washington, children get suspended from school as early as age five.

But emerging research shows that not only is suspension not the best method of addressing bad behavior, it is often meted out with no consideration of the traumatic situations many students experience at home. In fact, problems at home like abuse, divorce and poverty are leading causes for children misbehaving in school. These students need someone to talk to and to teach them how to deal with their feelings in a productive way -- not send them back out into the fire.

In a recent piece for the Seattle Times, Claudia Rowe highlights schools across the country -- from Boston to Los Angeles -- that are taking a trauma-informed approach to handling troubled students. There is a growing trend to educate teachers on the effects of trauma and what their students are experiencing at home, and then to find ways for teachers and students to come together to solve problems.

These "trauma-sensitive approaches," as Rowe refers to them, in which teachers interact closely and privately with their traumatized students, have dramatically cut the number of suspensions. And fewer suspensions has led to improved attendance, better academic engagement and happier, healthier children.


If you know a story you think should be on our Honor Roll, please send an email to our editor Catherine Taibi via with the subject line "WHAT'S WORKING."