Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

Helping Traumatized Children Learn

SUMMARY: The goal of Helping Traumatized Children Learn is to ensure that children traumatized by exposure to family violence succeed in school. Research now shows that trauma can undermine children’s ability to learn, form relationships, and function appropriately in the classroom. Schools, which are significant communities for children, and teachers—the primary role models in these communities—must be given the supports they need to address trauma’s impact on learning. Otherwise, many children will be unable to achieve their academic potential, and the very laudable goals of education reform will not be realized. Trauma-sensitive school environments benefit all children— those whose trauma history is known, those whose trauma will never be clearly identified, and those who may be impacted by their traumatized classmates. Together, we can ensure that all children will be able to achieve at their highest levels despite whatever traumatic circumstances they may have endured.

This report proposes an educational and policy agenda that will enable schools to become supportive environments in which traumatized children can focus, behave appropriately, and learn. It translates complex research on trauma into educational terms that are useful to teachers and schools. And it provides a Flexible Framework—which can be adapted by any school—for creating a climate in which children exposed to family violence can achieve at their highest levels.

Download this report in its entirety below: