In Vermont, kids’ mental health is deteriorating after nearly two years of instability

Sara and her daughter Avah Lamie live in Vermont’s Upper Valley. Lately, behaviors of some students at school have been concerning. (Courtesy Sara Lamie)

Sara Lamie knows that if her daughter, Avah, has something to get off her chest, it’ll happen in the car after school:

“Sometimes she’ll come right out and say, like, ‘Mom, [sigh] I had a rough day today.’”

Sara asks Avah, who’s 11, if she wants to talk about it. If she does, she might say she’s worried that she doesn’t have enough friends. Or she’ll talk about something in class that was stressful. But lately, she’s been saying that arguments at recess have been turning violent. And she seems upset by it.

“You know, she usually wouldn’t say anything to me unless it was really bothersome to her,” Sara said.

Avah goes to Dothan Brook school in Hartford, Vermont. This fall, the head of the local teachers union there wrote a letter to the school board pointing out the high levels of aggressive and violent behavior in elementary schools. “Staff members and students have been hit, kicked, pushed, bit, head-butted and spit on,” she wrote.

This is happening around the state. For instance, teachers in Addison County raised concerns about safety after an elementary school student tore apart a classroom in the fall. One student at a high school needed medical attention after a fight. There’s been vandalism in Washington County, gun threats in Windham County, and everywhere, tensions are high.

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