Dr. Patsy Carter

Missouri Department of Mental Health

During the session, trainer Patsy Carter of the Missouri Department of Mental Health took a common example: a student who isn’t participating in class, and lashes out at a teacher who confronts her. What the teacher may not know, Carter said, is that the student is being abused at home. What seems like daydreaming could be a stress reaction to being beaten earlier that day. And a light tap on the shoulder from a teacher could be a trigger from her ongoing abuse.


“So her response is, absolutely, to defend herself. She viewed herself as defending herself, her teacher viewed that as her being assaulted,” Carter said.


Carter said that’s why it’s crucial for schools, the criminal justice system and other agencies to understand how trauma impacts a person’s behavior.


“If we want them to get better, we have to do something different than what we’re doing right now,” Carter said. “It’s punishing them for what their brains are telling them to do to keep themselves safe.”

Please click the video to hear what she had to say about behavioral risk assessment and safety.

Contact Information:

Email:  patsy.carter@dmh.mo.gov

Department of Mental Health
1706 East Elm Street
Jefferson City, Missouri 65101

Phone:  573.751.4942 or 573.751.8017


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Behavioral Risk Assessment & Safety 

                                           314.421.3542 | St. Louis, Missouri

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