Educators are encountering more "wounded students" in their classrooms, but experts say they don't always know how to address their needs.
The founder of a group who aims to help these students spoke recently at the National Youth-At-Risk Conference in Savannah.
Abuse, neglect, violence, poverty, loss and witnessing the abuse of a parent or sibling can lead to symptoms of trauma in children, The Savannah Morning News reported.
Educators must work to restore the self-esteem of such students, said Joe Hendershott, founder and chief executive officer of Hope 4 the Wounded in Ohio.
"Every behavior is a teachable moment," he said.
The term "at-risk youth" is common in education, but Hendershott said the term "wounded" goes beyond at-risk.
"Wounded means something traumatic has already happened in the life of a child," he said.
Social media is affecting the way youth relate to one another and has contributed to the rise in wounded students, Hendershott said.
What works for wounded children is not more punishment, but compassion and education. Service projects are more effective than suspension or expulsion, he said.
The conference was hosted by Georgia Southern University's College of Education.