Phila.’s 880 Students With Behavior Problems Need Services


At 8, Sharif Goff of Philadelphia brims with anger, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. His father has been jailed for more than six years. A half-brother who had become like a father to him was shot to death at 31 when Sharif was in kindergarten. Another half-brother with a similar bond to Sharif was shot and paralyzed in 2005. Sharif punched a school volunteer in the nose this spring. When school officials began disciplining him, they discovered he wasn’t getting the help he was supposed to get to deal with his anger. Sharif represents a growing number of youngsters coming to school with behavioral problems, said school official Brenda Taylor. About 880 students are in behavioral programs that didn’t exist a few years ago. More programs are in the planning.

School officials had talked about a plan to coordinate services between the district and a behavioral health agency months before the assault, but that plan hadn’t been enacted. “It was clearly a case of a breakdown in communication,” Taylor said. The Community Behavioral Health Department this school year assigned a therapeutic support worker to shadow Sharif during the school day and help him with his behavior.


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