Educators: Age Dropping Significantly for "At Risk" Kids - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Educators: Age Dropping Significantly for "At Risk" Kids

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From the east to the west, it seems no part of the State is immune.  Educators are noting a disturbing trend in North Dakota schools.

"The at-risk behaviors, the crisis behaviors, if you will, are really appearing in our kindergarten, first and second graders," says Kirsten Baesler, Superintendent, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Inconsistent attendance, inability to transition from one activity to another, hitting and even biting -- what's going on here?  From across the State, Superintendent Kirsten Baesler is hearing from teachers and administrators.

"When I first started my career 20 plus years ago, as an elementary educator, elementary-age educator, most of our referrals to the office and most of our at-risk behaviors occurred in our fifth and sixth grade students," says Baesler.

That's all changed.

Now, teachers need training to deal with this behavior in younger children.  "They are coming to school without the social skills they once had received from a consistent, structured home, and we're seeing more of our kids that don't have the benefit of that."

As a result, the burden on the school system is increasing.  To deal, the Department of Public Instruction says they have a Safe & Healthy Schools Unit that Districts can call anytime.  It's not an immediate solution but may help connect schools with others who've already dealt with similar issues.  But most importantly, they say the community needs to recognize younger students are dealing with stress in their lives that wasn't there years ago.

"Be the one person in your neighborhood that reaches out to a child and greets them.  That connection, that support can go a long, long way in our communities to assisting those students in feeling like they belong, feeling like there is a purpose and that everything will be okay in their life."

For more information on the Safe & Health Schools Unit, visit the Department of Public Instruction website --


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