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Trauma Sensitive Schools

About Trauma Sensitive Schools

Trauma Sensitive Environments

Children affected by trauma may or may not see school as a safe haven or "different place" than the one where they experienced a trauma. In the case of chronic bullying, school is the location of the trauma. Most educators understand and acknowledge that student's bring a diversity of experiences when they enter the classroom. Yet, educators may not know that a child is a victim of trauma. Research is clearly indicating a high prevalence of children exposed to violence in every classroom.

The significance of trauma is that educators may not be aware that a student is learning or responding under a trauma response. Behaviors, learning patterns or social skills may be misinterpreted or mislabeled. Traumatized children are vulnerable; teachers are the critical link to intervention with sensitivity and awareness. Best practices create an environment where students can learn in a safe and positive environment. Trauma sensitive practice is a must for every educator's toolkit. Trauma has profound effects on a child's ability to participate and process the regular school day. Educators have an opportunity to intervene and advocate on behalf of their students with trauma sensitive practice and awareness.

Common Elements of Trauma Sensitive Schools

Trauma Sensitive Schools may have:

  • Comprehensive professional development for teachers and other staff
  • A team of school/district personnel to assess individual student cases
  • Expanded counseling services
  • Referrals to outside support services
  • Parent and family workshops on the effects of trauma
  • Conflict resolution training for both teachers and students
  • Consultation with local hospitals, mental health facilities, women's shelters, and other community based organizations
  • School/district administrative support for establishing a trauma sensitive environment
  • Academic instruction techniques for teaching traumatized students
  • Development or revision of school policies to be more trauma sensitive


Last Updated: December 18, 2007
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