Why We Need Trauma-Sensitive Schools

All children need safe and supportive environments in order to learn.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study demonstrates that nearly every school has students who have been exposed to overwhelming experiences, such as witnessing violence at home, being direct targets of abuse, homelessness or having a parent with substance abuse or mental health issues.

Trauma-sensitive schools help all students feel safe to learn
Trauma-sensitive schools help all students feel safe to learn.

For some children these experiences result in a trauma response that can lead to a cascade of social, emotional and academic difficulties that can interfere with a child’s ability to learn at school. Recent neurobiological research has shown that the trauma response can diminish concentration, memory and the organizational and language abilities students need to succeed in school, potentially leading to problems with academic performance, challenging behavior in the classroom, and difficulty forming relationships.

Trauma-sensitive schools help ALL children to feel safe to learn.

There are a growing number of schools throughout Massachusetts and the United States engaged in the work of creating trauma-sensitive schools.  This video features one such school, the Baker School in Brockton, MA.  The Baker is one of several schools in Brockton that are becoming trauma-sensitive through a concerted, well supported district-wide effort.   This video highlights the importance of leadership—superintendents, assistant superintendents-principals, and educators—in creating the understanding and infrastructure that can support the team work among staff needed for all children to be successful.  As one school staff member explains “Every child belongs to everyone and when kids feel that, the kids and teachers are happy.”   Watch the video

Trauma-sensitive schools focus on what the adults do
Trauma-sensitive schools focus on what the adults do and how the adults can support students.