Post-Traumatic Syndromes in Childhood and Adolescence: A Handbook of Research and Practice

By Vittoria Ardino | Go to book overview

Chapter Twelve
Schools as a Context of Trauma
Prevention

Barbara Oehlberg


Trauma comes to school: The neurobiological legacy

Many children bring unprocessed traumatic memories with them into their classrooms and schools. Although teachers are not clinicians and schools are not mental health agencies, child traumatic stress is an educational issue because it interferes with students’ opportunity to learn up to their potential.

Certainly, schools cannot address child traumatic stress alone but they have a significant role in alleviating the stress of trauma and promoting resilience while performing their mandate to generate the academic achievement of students and prepare them for meaningful citizenship.

Schools, preschool to 12, are strategically positioned to recognize child traumatic stress in children while the brain is still very malleable, introduce transformative activities that fit into core curriculum subjects, and break the cycle of intergenerational PTSD. Schools offer an existing network for expanded delivery of child traumatic stress relief, especially for children who may not have access to clinical therapy because of finances or adult apprehensions. Afterschool programs also offer significant opportunities for addressing traumatic stress because of their flexibility and freedom from academic mandates.


Attachment trauma

Children who have not been afforded the opportunity to complete the attachment process during early childhood have reduced capacities for self-regulation, stress management, and empathy according to Allan Schore, who refers to this as attachment trauma (Schore, 2001). Early relationships that are predictable

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