Culture, Diversity, and Crisis
University of California, Davis
At present, many of those responding to a hazardous event will come from White, middle class, English monolingual, North American backgrounds. They will tend to draw on their experiences with a similar clientele, and op erate from values based in Western European culture. At the same time, many of those traumatized will come from a wide diversity of backgrounds and there is great potential for a lack of connection between the helper and the clients. Ideally a crisis response team would be made up of helpers from all cultures represented in the school, but this will not often be possible. Crises come at unpredictable times and the diversity of many schools is so great, it would be impossible at a moment's notice to have trained personnel available so as to match helper with client.
More rapidly than any other institution, our schools are going through tremendous changes to accommodate new populations. In most regions, the children and the families they serve are becoming increasingly diverse. Since 1985, the number of children entering school without full English proficiency has grown by about 70%. One school-age child in seven speaks a language other than English at home (Garcia, 1995). Ethnic minority students comprise 70% to 96% of the students in 15 of the nation's largest school districts (Kellogg, 1988). Much of this diversity comes from immigration from Mexico and Central America, and from economically depressed or war-torn areas of the world such as Eastern Europe. There a numerous ways that culture must be taken into account if a crisis worker is to success-