Research suggests that approximately 25% of American children will experience at least one traumatic event by the age of 16. A child's reactions to trauma can interfere considerably with learning and/or behavior at school. However, schools also serve as a critical system of support for children who have experienced trauma.
Administrators, teachers, and staff can help reduce the impact of trauma on children by recognizing trauma responses, accommodating and responding to traumatized students within the classroom setting, and referring children to outside professionals when necessary. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed tools and materials to help educators understand and respond to the specific needs of traumatized children.
Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators (2008)
The Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators was developed to provide school administrators, teachers, staff, and concerned parents with basic information about working with traumatized children in the school system. Additional multimedia resources on this toolkit are available in the NCTSN Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma .
Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators (PDF) (Complete toolkit)
>En Español [Caja de Herramientas Para Educadores Para el Manejo de Trauma Infantil] (PDF)
The Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators is composed of the following components:
- Trauma Facts for Educators (PDF)
>En Español [Datos Sobre el Trauma ] (PDF)
This one-page fact sheet is designed to help educators learn more about the impact of trauma on children's behavior and performance in a school or classroom setting. It also provides specific recommendations for teachers to help mitigate the impact of trauma on children in the classroom.
- Understanding Child Traumatic Stress: A Guide for Parents (PDF)
>En Español [Entendimiento del Estrés Traumático Infantil: Una Guia para Padres ] (PDF)
This easy-to-read brochure provides parents and caregivers with a basic overview of child traumatic stress, outlines what they can do at home to help a child who has been traumatized, and provides instructions on how to advocate for their child within the school setting.
- Psychological and Behavioral Impact of Trauma: Preschool Children (PDF)
>En Español [Impacto Psicológico y Conductual del Trauma: Niños Preescolares ] (PDF)
- Psychological and Behavioral Impact of Trauma: Elementary School Students (PDF)
>En Español [Impacto Psicológico y Conductual del Trauma: Estudiantes de la Escuela Primaria ] (PDF)
- Psychological and Behavioral Impact of Trauma: Middle School Students (PDF)
>En Español [Impacto Psicológico y Conductual del Trauma: Estudiantes de la Escuela Secundaria ] (PDF)
- Psychological and Behavioral Impact of Trauma: High School Students (PDF)
>En Español [Impacto Psicológico y Conductual del Trauma: Estudiantes de la Escuela Superior ] (PDF)
These comprehensive documents are intended for educators who work primarily with preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school students, respectively. They describe how to identify children in the four age groups who may be experiencing traumatic stress reactions. They also teach educators how to manage these children within the school and classroom settings.
- Self Care for Educators (PDF)
>En Español [Auto-Ayuda para Educadores ] (PDF)
Working daily with children who have been exposed to trauma can be very difficult for school professionals. This handout defines secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue, and vicarious traumatization: three reactions that educators who work with traumatized children may have. The handout describes why these reactions are so important to prevent and address, and outlines specific recommendations for appropriate self-care.
- Suggestions for Educators (PDF)
>En Español [Sugerencias para Educadores ] (PDF)
This document provides a list of simple and straightforward strategies educators can use to accommodate a traumatized child in the school setting. It also teaches educators how to determine when traumatic stress reactions are severe enough to merit a referral for additional help.
- Brief Information on Childhood Traumatic Grief (PDF)
>En Español [Breve Información Sobre el Duelo Traumático Infantil ] (PDF)
This document defines child traumatic grief and distinguishes it from normal childhood grief following the death of a close friend or family member. Some of the key features of child traumatic grief are discussed, along with examples of how it is similar to and different from normal grief. The document offers guidance for adults who encounter a child with child traumatic grief, including how and when to seek professional help.
- Brief Information on Childhood Traumatic Grief for School Personnel (PDF)
>En Español [Breve Información Sobre el Duelo Traumático Infantil Para Personal de la Escuela ] (PDF)
This information sheet focuses primarily on how teachers and school personnel can identify and assist children in their school who are experiencing child traumatic grief. While acknowledging that most children who have experienced the death of a close friend or family member do not develop childhood traumatic grief, the information sheet identifies specific signs and symptoms of childhood traumatic grief for teachers to look for. This resource also outlines strategies that school staff can engage in to help students with child traumatic grief.
Students and Trauma DVD (available in English and Spanish)
The Students and Trauma DVD, developed by the Los Angeles Unified School District Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Schools (LAUSD TSA), highlights some of the psychological, social, and academic problems that may impact a student exposed to community violence or a traumatic event. Students talk about their real life experience and struggles with a range of traumatic experiences including community violence, suicide of a family member, and natural disasters.
Download the order form for the Spanish version, Nuestros Hijos y el Trauma: Lo Que Necesitamos Saber, here .
The Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators was developed by the Schools Committee of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.