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Trauma in Schools

Many different things can be considered “traumatic”. Trauma refers to experiences that are overwhelming and may leave a person feeling helpless, vulnerable or very frightened.

Traumatic experiences are overwhelming, lead to strong negative emotions such as shame, helplessness, and fear, involve some degree of experiences or witnessed a threat to self, whether that threat is physical, mental, or emotional.

Trauma is highly individualized and can look different in different people.  Even two siblings who have experienced the same traumatic event can respond differently.

Just as an earthquake can cause deep foundation cracks that are the hidden cause of a building’s instability even decades later, Complex Trauma can disrupt healthy development and is often the unseen cause of many problems and difficulties youth face years later that are not obviously connected to early childhood experiences.

Although the abilities in the “survival brain” make it possible for youth to get through very difficult, scary, or lonely times, these survival skills can cause problems once they become habits or when you use them when you don’t really need them. EX: If I'm walking down the hallway and somebody bumps into me, and I don't have a significant trauma history, I'm going to say ‘Oh, sorry, excuse me’. Whereas a kid who's been exposed to trauma on an ongoing basis, if somebody bumps into them that might be a threat. From there, the survival brain kicks in and reasoning and logic shut down.

Understanding Trauma

Helpful Links & Trauma Resources


 Fostering Resilient Learners

Fostering Resilient Learners

by Kristin Souers with Pete Hall Year Published:
 Helping Traumatized Children Learn

Helping Traumatized Children Learn

by Mass Advocates for Children Year Published:
 Supporting and Educating Traumatized Students Boo

Supporting and Educating Traumatized Students

by ric Rossen & Robert Hull Year Published:


Understanding Trauma in High School Presentation

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All providers, websites and resources referenced here are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of PPS and should not replace professional, medical or legal advice. Readers should be aware that websites, sources, and terms are constantly evolving and may change before being updated on this site. This site is by no means exhaustive. In addition to the sources researched and documented here, there are many, many more sites and organizations that may provide different, valuable and useful information for your needs.