A school-wide focus on trauma-informed practice creates a shared understanding and common language about how to create welcoming, caring, respectful and safe schools. All students benefit from learning environments that are calm, predictable and supportive. Trauma-informed practice is sometimes known as trauma-sensitive practice or safe and supportive schools.
Prolonged toxic stress, such as abuse or neglect, can impact brain development. Students who experience severe or chronic trauma without the support of a nurturing relationship, are at high risk for having difficulties with learning, behaviour and forming friendships. They may demonstrate a range of actions from extreme aggression to withdrawal. Focusing on healthy relationships and positive discipline can improve student engagement and school culture.
In any given school, at least one quarter of the students have experienced traumatic or adverse experiences. When staff understands how trauma affects the brain, they can avoid unknowingly causing a student to feel unsafe. Staff can choose strategies that show empathy and help to create a safe environment, where students can learn positive ways of handling emotions and relating to others.
A whole-school approach to trauma-informed practice can include strategies such as mentoring or restorative practices. Social-Emotional Learning opportunities are critical.