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ERIC Number: EJ1189969
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Oct
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0164-775X
Trauma-Informed Care in Schools: A Social Justice Imperative
Ridgard, Tamique J.; Laracy, Seth D.; DuPaul, George J.; Shapiro, Edward S.; Power, Thomas J.
Communique, v44 n2 p1, 12, 14-15 Oct 2015
The mental health field has long recognized the negative consequences associated with a range of traumatic events, including physical assault, sexual assault, natural or man-made disasters, accidents, and medical incidents (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013). The shockingly high prevalence of exposure to violence among America's children and adolescents highlights the importance to school psychologists of understanding the effects of violence and effective intervention strategies. Exposure to trauma or chronic stress has a negative impact on several domains of functioning related to school performance. Traumatic experiences and exposure to community violence can contribute to dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which in turn can manifest as either hypoarousal or hyperarousal in response to different routine or distressing stimuli. Trauma also has a negative impact on academic functioning with higher symptoms of traumatic stress predicting poorer reading, math, and science achievement scores among elementary students. Additionally, traumatic symptoms are associated with a three-fold increase in odds of having an Individualized Education Program for learning or behavior problems. The importance of school mental health services has led to calls for expansion of services that rely on partnerships between schools, families, and community agencies to provide evidence-based and data-driven prevention and intervention programs in schools. Given racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in the experience of trauma and chronic stress, use of a trauma-informed care approach may reduce disparities in the emotional and health outcomes of these students, which may then positively impact students' academic and behavioral functioning. Failure to detect and address the trauma experienced by students exposed to violence may perpetuate disparities in educational and health outcomes. Using a trauma-informed approach in schools virtually ensures that the negative impact of trauma is recognized and that the needs of students who have experienced trauma are addressed. As advocates for social justice, school psychologists are charged with the task of providing appropriate supports to meet the needs of all students; providing trauma-informed care may be a necessary part of meeting the needs of many students from racial/ethnic minority and low socioeconomic backgrounds.
National Association of School Psychologists. 4340 East West Highway Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814. Tel: 301-657-0270; Fax: 301-657-0275; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A