News from National Convention—Resolutions

At the 2018 National PTA Convention in New Orleans, delegates adopted one new resolution and amended another existing resolution. The first resolution addresses students with disabilities, while the second focuses on mental health programs and services. The links to the resolutions here are to the proposed text and amendments, which were only slightly modified by the convention delegates. The final text of the resolutions will be posted on the National PTA Resolutions pagein the near future.

Resolution on High Expectations for Students with Disabilities

As the new resolution on high expectations for students with disabilitiesnotes, more than half of all students with disabilities spend at least 80% of their school day in general education classes. These students need both quality general education instruction and targeted interventions and accommodations. For students with disabilities, time in general education classes lead to fewer absences, less disruptive behavior, and better outcomes after high school, as well as new learning opportunities for students without disabilities.

Yet for students with disabilities, there continues to be a gap between the achievement of these students and those without disabilities. Research has shown that teacher expectations for students with disabilities, parental expectations for their children’s academic achievement, and students’ own mindsets all play key roles in their success.

The resolution directs National PTA and all PTAs under it (including local PTAs) to:

  • Collaborate with school communities to include students with disabilities and their families in all school activities.
  • Support peer mentoring, collaborative problem solving, cooperative working groups, and more casual or unstructured interactions between student with disabilities and those without disabilities.
  • Include a relevant general educator present at Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.
  • Support funding for teacher professional development regarding adapting instruction to meet the needs of students with disabilities, accommodations that improve access to the general curriculum, and high expectations for all students regarding both academics and behavior.
  • Support implementation of best practices to meet the needs of diverse students, including Universal Design for Learning (UDL), inclusion, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), and Response to Intervention (RTI).
  • Support students with disabilities access to accommodations, including assistive technology.

Amended Resolution on Children’s Emotional Health and Mental Health Awareness

The convention delegates amended the 1969 resolution on Children’s Emotional Health to address mental health issues as well. The amended resolution notes that mental health issues in children have increased in recent years, with 20% of youth ages 13 to 18 living with a mental health condition. Furthermore, 79% of students ages 6 to 17 with mental health disorders do not receive mental health care. The average delay between the onset of symptoms and the beginning of treatment for these children is 8 to 10 years.

The amended resolution calls on National PTA and its constituent associations to:

  • Support efforts to establish comprehensive community mental health providers that offer preventative and treatment services to children and adults, as well as comprehensive school mental health programs that include adequate access to school psychologies, school counselors, and school social workers.
  • Advocate for teacher and administrator training to improve the understanding of child emotional and mental health needs, with an emphasis on the importance of establishing a school climate conducive to good mental health.
  • Promote education programs for parents and families to strengthen understanding and supportive home environments.
  • Support efforts to provide education and other supports for school staff and professional development to assist with addressing and early detection of mental health issues.

Survey of Highlights Needs of LGBTQ Youth

In 2016, PTA adopted a resolution in favor of recognizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) individuals as a protected class, noting that LGBTQ youth are frequent targets of harassment and bullying and have higher rates of isolation, depression, and suicidal thoughts and attempts than the general student population. This month, the Human Rights Campaign and the University of Connecticut released its 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report.

The report is the largest survey of its kind ever, having surveyed over 12,000 LGBTQ teenagers ages 13 to 17 from across the nation. The survey found that these teenagers are experiencing not only high levels of stress, anxiety, and rejection, but also overwhelmingly feel unsafe in their own classrooms. The survey also clearly indicated the important role that supportive families and inclusive schools play in LGBTQ students’ success and well-being. Among the results are:

  • 77% of LGBTQ teenagers reported feeling depressed or down over the past week.
  • 95% of LGBTQ teenagers reported trouble sleeping at night.
  • More than 70% report feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week.
  • Over 50% of transgender youth said that they canneveruse the school restrooms that align with their gender identity.
  • Only 11% of LGBTQ teenagers of color said their racial or ethnic group was regarded positively in the US.
  • Only 26% of LGBTQ youth said that they always feel safe in their school classrooms, and only 5% say that all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ teenagers.
  • 67% report that they have heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people.

The full reportincludes a section covering what parents and family members, school administrators and teachers, mental health and medical professionals, and policy makers and advocacy leaders can do to help.

Identifying and Treating Heat-Related Illnesses

Summer’s here and the weather is already getting hot. As we spend more time outdoors, heat-related illnesses become a concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a helpful list of how to identify the symptoms of various heat-related illnesses and what to do when you or a loved one shows those signs.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is caused by your body overheating, most often as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. Be sure to note that with heat stroke, you should not give the person anything to drink, unlike with heat exhaustion or heat cramps (see below).

What to look for:

  • High body temperature (103°F or higher)
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Losing consciousness (passing out)

What to do:

  • Call 911 right away-heat stroke is a medical emergency
  • Move the person to a cooler place
  • Help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath
  • Do not give the person anything to drink

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the result of exposure to high temperatures and is often accompanied by dehydration. It is the middle step from heat cramps (see below) to heat stroke (see above).

What to look for:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting (passing out)

What to do:

  • Move to a cool place
  • Loosen your clothes
  • Put cool, wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath
  • Sip water

Get medical help right away if:

  • You are throwing up
  • Your symptoms get worse
  • Your symptoms last longer than 1 hour

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy exercise in hot environments. The spasms may be more intense and prolonged than the typical night cramps.

What to look for:

  • Heavy sweating during intense exercise
  • Muscle pain or spasms

What to do:

  • Stop physical activity and move to a cool place
  • Drink water or a sports drink
  • Wait for cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity

Get medical help right away if:

  • Cramps last longer than 1 hour
  • You’re on a low-sodium diet
  • You have heart problems

Sunburn

Sunburn is a form of radiation burn due to overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, most commonly from the sun or tanning beds. It is one of the most common heat-related illnesses and can lead to skin cancers later in life.

What to look for:

  • Painful, red, and warm skin
  • Blisters on the skin

What to do:

  • Stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals
  • Put cool cloths on sunburned areas or take a cool bath
  • Put moisturizing lotion on sunburned areas
  • Do not break blisters

Heat Rash

Heat rash occurs when the skin’s sweat glands are blocked and the sweat produced cannot get to the surface of the skin to evaporate and cool the body. This causes inflammation that results in a rash.

What to look for:

  • Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases)

What to do:

  • Stay in a cool, dry place
  • Keep the rash dry
  • Use powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash

The CDC also has an infographic with this informationthat you can easily share on social media.

Photo © 2012 by Conservation Law Foundation and Emily T. Starrunder Creative Commons license.

Understanding Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma is a scary term for a parent, and when many parents hear the term, they think of exposure to violence in the community or abuse in the home. But childhood trauma is much more than just those experiences, and research shows that 20% to 25% of all children in the United States will experience some form of trauma before they reach adulthood. In fact, several recent studies have shown that childhood trauma can alter a child’s DNA.

The Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition (ICTC) has a website to help parents understand childhood trauma and how to get help for their child. The website, called Look Through Their Eyes, provides a one-minute introductory video about childhood trauma, a broader look at what childhood trauma is, and information and resources on bullying and community violence. There is also information on how to identify childhood trauma at various ages and where you can go for help if your child has experienced trauma.

The ICTC identifies some of the most common causes of childhood trauma as:

  • Accidents
  • Bullying/cyberbullying
  • Chaos or dysfunction in the house
  • Death of a loved one
  • Domestic violence
  • Emotional abuse or neglect
  • Incarcerated parent
  • Parent with a mental illness
  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Separation from a parent or caregiver
  • Sexual abuse
  • Stress caused by poverty
  • Substance abuse
  • Sudden and/or serious medical condition
  • Violence (at home, at school, or in the surrounding community)
  • War/terrorism

Visit Look Through Their Eyesto learn more about childhood trauma.