Trauma

  • Trauma is an experience that is emotionally painful, distressful, or shocking, which can result in lasting emotional and physical effects.  Not all traumatic events have the same impact on children. A child traumatic stress reaction occurs when children and adolescents are exposed to traumatic events or situations that overwhelm their ability to cope.

  • Acute trauma is usually a one-time event. Complex trauma is trauma that: persists over time, is a violation of safety in an intimate relationship, is persistent but unpredictably episodic, and is often progressive over time.

  • Typically, traumatic experiences evoke feelings of extreme fear and helplessness. Some common examples include, but are not limited to, the following experiences:

  • Child abuse and maltreatment

  • School related violence

  • Gang violence and threat

  • Criminal victimization

  • Medical trauma

  • Loss/death

  • Domestic violence

  • Community violence

  • Parent/self incarceration

  • Foster care/out-of-home placement

  • Parent divorce/separation

  • Parent drug use

It is important to note that everyone has different reactions to traumatic events.  Reactions are based one’s age, personal resilient characteristics, and other supports in one’s life, to name a few.  Therefore, not everyone who experiences traumatic events will be traumatized.

Again, to ensure intervention effectiveness, school staffs need to experience a perspective shift from perceiving behavior as a way to manipulate or act disobedient, to seeing behavior as a way to communicate needs and get needs met.  The fidelity of interventions is not reliable without training.