Bay Area professor to explore migrant children’s trauma in Sept. 24 class

The FMCE classes run through Nov. 5. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
The FMCE classes run through Nov. 5. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The FMCE classes run through Nov. 5. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Those interested in learning about trauma faced by migrant children can do so with a University of Houston-Clear Lake social work professor Sept. 24.

As part of the university’s Friday Morning Continuing Education fall series, Roberta Leal, assistant professor of social work, will contextualize the backgrounds of migrant children and explore ways the community can identify their unique trauma, according to a UHCL media release.

Although Bay Area residents may not have direct interaction with migrants, their children could be in a class with a migrant child, Leal said in the release. This is especially true since, in Texas, any school-age child is required to be in school regardless of immigration status, per the Texas Association of School Boards.

“My goal is to discuss what trauma looks like for elementary age kids, and offer guidance to parents and other children when they see a migrant child struggling through an emotional crisis in a classroom,” she said in the release.

Migrant children may be dealing with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, Leal said in the release. Moreover, children from Central America often have a significant education gap in comparison to American kids, and this gap would be further compounded after a frightening experience, such as being separated from family.


“A child who has been through this experience could be very sensitive to light, sound or touch,” she said in the release. “These are indicators of trauma—not being familiar with the system of an American school, with its large classes, gymnasiums and cafeterias. Children are not always sure what to do or how schools operate.”

Leal will host the discussion about migrant children and their trauma in UHCL’s Bayou Building at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 24. The class, which is the first of FMCE’s fall series, is the first in-person since before the pandemic. Safety measures will be in place and cooperation with them is encouraged, Program Director Christine Paul told Community Impact Newspaper Sept. 15.

The courses are meant to showcase the interesting and exciting things UHCL faculty are involved in on campus, Paul said in 2020. No homework or reading is required for the classes.

Participants pay a one-time $26 membership fee, after which each class costs an additional $18; following the first $44 class, the cost remains $18 per session.

Upcoming classes in the fall series include a class on sex trafficking in Houston, a class focused on building coils with clay and a class about the legacy of the original Gulf Coast cowboys. The classes run through Nov. 5.

Click here to see a full schedule of classes and to register.
By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.


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