Kids and stress — S.F. students tested

Kids and stress — S.F. students tested

Some San Francisco middle-school parents were taken aback this month when they received a letter describing their child’s stress level.

«We wanted to inform you that the results (of a screening) showed your child’s stress was in the normal range.»

Other parent letters identified high levels of stress.

At least one parent — with a «normal range» kid who is no stranger to homework-induced stress — wasn’t quite sure what to make of the letter sent by SRI International, an education research firm.

The letters went home to students from 11 district middle schools, where researchers are screening children for their exposure to trauma and studying the effectiveness of a school-based therapy to improve the coping skills of those with significant trauma-related symptoms.

An initial screening of sixth-graders found that 1 in every 6 students surveyed had experienced community violence, abuse, the death of a loved one, war or other traumatic event, putting them at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder or other trauma-related problems.

That’s a lot of kids struggling with all sorts of stress.

«All our sixth-graders were screened,» said Presidio Middle School Principal Tony Payne. Students who have experienced significant trauma are provided with support.

Parent permission was required for students to participate in the screening and any follow-up therapy.

This is year two of the four-year, $3.4 million study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The 10 weeks of cognitive-behavioral therapy used in the study has been shown to effectively reduce symptoms of trauma in children, but it has never been tested to determine if that then leads to improved school performance.

Preliminary results from the study were not yet available.

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