Why Trauma-Sensitive Schools?

During my thirty-three years as a teacher educator, I never once mentioned trauma or attachment as factors in understanding the behavior of children in the classroom. Trauma wasn't on anyone's radar! Once I began to understand my story and the effects of trauma on my life, I also began to understand many behaviors which had to this point seemed inexplicable.   

It is a statistical likelihood that a child who has suffered trauma (see Trauma) of some kind is sitting in every classroom in America. In addition, we see the effects of inadequate attachment (see Attachment) in the attention-seeking children every single day. Our go-to has been to develop strategies to encourage independence, but this is the exact opposite of what these children need. Other inexplicable behavior may well be the result of trauma triggers. Students who appear to be different children (sometimes animals) from day to day, hour to hour may be utilizing dissociative coping strategies (See Dissociation). Without understanding the effects of early childhood trauma and inadequate attachment, "management" strategies are very likely proving to be ineffective--especially if they are built upon a cognitive-based behavior control premise. 

What happens to children in the very beginning of their lives is causing behaviors you cannot understand. I was fortunate to have the intelligence, resilience, and stabilizing factors in my life which enabled me to build unhealthy but functional coping strategies. Many children who experience abuse are not so fortunate, but what you may be viewing as inappropriate behavior could very well be coping strategies that are enabling a child to survive.  

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