Dr. Elizabeth O. Crawford and I met at the 2014 National Conference for Social Studies. I presented a session, Change the World: Local and Global Think-Care-Act Projects, and Dr. Crawford, an education professor at University of North Carolina Wilmington, attended my session. From our meeting arose our EA/UNCW Think-Care-Act Project Partnership.
Through the 2014-15 school year, my current and former sixth and seventh grade students at The Episcopal Academy “taught” Dr. Crawford’s senior pre-service education majors how to think about personal qualities and talents, identify passions for social change, and act to change the world for the better. Through Skype and shared project plans, my students and those of Dr. Crawford have inspired and encouraged each other to make a difference. We are delighted and proud to share the TCAP work of our students, and we will present jointly at NCSS in November 2015.
For Dr. Crawford’s students, the culminating piece of the Think-Care-Act Projects was to write a guest blog post about their projects. Below, and for the next few blog postings, you will read guest blogs from future teachers, with links for further research and teaching suggestions. This one by Jen Hinson and Savannah Mangrum deals with helping children in homes with substance abuse.
This is the last of our EA/UNC Partnership blog series of five guest posts. We hope this post, like the others, will be inspirational reading for thinking, caring, and acting!—Sue Cannon
GUEST POST #5: Helping Children in Homes with Substance AbuseBy Jen Hinson & Savannah MangrumUniversity of North Carolina Wilmington
Enrolled into Watson College at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, education students welcome the concept of the Think-Care-Act Project. As future teachers, students seek to find ways to instruct a classroom about civic engagement.
Are Children Harmed if They Don’t Inhale?
Teachers encounter struggling students in the classroom on a daily basis. Some of these students struggle with behavior, the development of social relationships, emotions, academics, and even attentiveness. There are a variety of reasons for these struggles, ranging from lack of self-confidence to being victims of abuse. An alarm may not sound for every child’s safety, but where does the concern for these children truly begin? For this Think-Care-Act Project, we have considered how to help students who struggle from child maltreatment that occurs alongside parental drug abuse.
Drug addiction is more than a habit or a problem, drug addiction is a disease. Drug addiction deals with much more than illegal substances. Individuals can become addicted to alcohol, over the counter and/or prescribed medication, and tobacco products. Once a person is dependent on a substance, the abuse may begin. Drug abuse is a result of a brain disease that influences decision making. Whether the choice to begin using drugs is voluntary or necessary, drug addicts develop a chronic brain disease that governs their future decisions concerning drugs. The brain disease that develops dictates the decisions individuals make when experiencing the impulse to use a drug.
Drug abuse does not just affect the abuser. Those who are dependent on alcohol or illicit drugs affect every individual in their life, including their children. To ensure proper social emotional development, children require stability—a stable and predictable home alongside reliable parents. Dependence on substances can lead to child maltreatment. The needs of children can quickly become second to the parents’ impulses for substances or their recovery from substances’ effects. Children of individuals who abuse substances are likely to experience, “a disruption in the bonding process; emotional, academic, and developmental problems; lack of supervision; parentification; social stigma; and adolescent substance use and delinquency.” (Protecting children, 2009)
Can We Make a Difference About Something So Hushed?
Teachers can empower their students to be a change in the world by raising awareness, providing resources, and educating others. When students are given the opportunity to make a difference, they will do so. Adora Svitak tells readers that teachers can empower their students by “involving students in real issues.” Incorporating the real world into the classroom by prompting students to practice the skills that they are learning will empower them to take ownership of their education. Students will be more motivated to continue growing as learners and individuals if they are able to see the impact that they are making.
The concept of drug abuse is not one that is willingly discussed in grade school, so how do teachers approach such situations? Teachers provide stability in the classroom. Children are able to thrive from pattern and routine as they have an understanding of what is expected of them. Teachers can be advocates for children who struggle in school due to child maltreatment. Alongside all of the superhero powers that they already have, teachers can find resources for these struggling students. The reach that teachers have when it comes to children is immeasurable and with the correct information, teachers are capable of connecting students to counselors, psychologists, and specialists.
Two Girls, One Small Action, and Clear and Evident Impact
As university students who are working towards earning elementary education degrees, our action was to donate time. We donated a considerable amount of time to a local substance abuse rehabilitation center every Wednesday afternoon and Sunday morning. In four hour blocks, we spent time with children whose parents were taking their own action and who were committed to their recovery. While their parents were in treatment sessions, we did activities with the children.
We also donated supplies. These supplies were ones that could be used in the rehabilitation center’s nursery, as these children spent much of their time here. In a facility where the main focus was substance abuse recovery, we two girls worked to bring children the supplies and attention they needed and couldn’t have gotten from their own guardians.
--By Jen Hinson & Savannah Mangrum, 2015
- Protecting children in families affected by substance use disorders. (2009) Retrieved from:https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/substanceuse.pdf#page=27&view=CHAPTER%203%20How%20Parental%20Substance%20Use%20Disorders%20Affect%20Children
- Sivtak, A. (2012, February 8). Five ways to empower students. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/empower-students-adora-svitak
- Other links: