Trauma-Sensitive Schools

What is a Trauma-Sensitive School?

A trauma-sensitive school is a safe environment that promotes positive relationship-building, understands the impact of traumatic experiences on behaviors, and enables students to self-regulate and succeed academically. 
According to the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, attributes of a trauma-sensitive school include: 

  • A shared understanding among all staff that adverse experiences in the lives of children are more common than many of us ever imagined, that trauma can impact learning, behavior, and relationships at school, and that a “whole school” approach to trauma-sensitivity is needed.
  • The school supports all children to feel safe physically, socially, emotionally, and academically. Children’s traumatic responses are often rooted in real or perceived threats to their safety that undermine a sense of well-being in fundamental ways. Therefore, the first step in helping students succeed in school is to help them feel safe. This includes not only physical safety but also social and emotional safety, as well as the sense of academic safety needed in order to take risks to advance one’s learning in the classroom.
  • The school addresses students needs in holistic ways, taking into account their relationships, self-regulation, academic competence, and physical and emotional well-being. Researchers tell us that if we bolster children in four key domains— relationships with teachers and peers; the ability to self-regulate behaviors, emotions, and attention; success in academic and non-academic areas; and physical and emotional health and well-being—we maximize their opportunities to overcome all kinds of adversity in order to succeed at school.
  • The school explicitly connects students to the school community and provides multiple opportunities to practice newly developing skills. Schools can help support children who have experienced trauma by fostering a culture of acceptance and tolerance where all students are welcomed and taught to respect the needs of others. 
  • The school embraces teamwork and staff share responsibility for all students.  In a trauma-sensitive school educators make the switch from asking “what can I do to fix this child?” to “what can we do as a community to support all children to help them feel safe and participate fully in our school community?” 
  • Leadership and staff anticipate and adapt to the ever-changing needs of students. In a trauma sensitive school, educators and administrators take the time to learn about changes in the local community so that they can anticipate new challenges before they arise.


Our Trauma Sensitive Schools are:

Devalles, Congdon, Jacobs, Pulaski, Roosevelt, Haymac, Gomes

VIDEO: Understanding Trauma: Learning Brain Vs. Survival Brain

     VIDEO: Why We Need Trauma Sensitive Schools

VIDEO: Impact of Trauma on Learning (Part 1)

VIDEO: Impact of Trauma on Learning (Part 2)


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