The Role of Educators in Addressing Childhood Trauma

22/11/2021

Mental health related issues are quite common amongst children. Now, in the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic, this problem is on the rise all over the world. Long absence from school because of the lockdown has made a serious impact on the mental wellbeing of many kids. Moreover, this may have also exposed some of them to avoidable family issues such as violence and abuse. As schools have started reopening now, it has become important for all educators to understand how trauma and adversity may impact their students, and take measures for addressing childhood trauma.   

Understanding Childhood Trauma

Trauma may be referred to as the natural human response to a stressful event or a series of such experiences or events. There is no denying the fact that most children are blessed with a nurturing home environment. However, it has been observed that a concerning number of children is Australia experience trauma because of neglect or abuse. It is estimated that around 2.4% children experience neglect, 8.7% emotional abuse, 8.6% sexual abuse, and 8.9% physical abuse. As these experiences are difficult to measure, these figures could be even higher.

Trauma in children may also be the result of parent separation, family violence, mental illness, or the loss of a loved one. Covid-19 has led to increased financial hardship for about one-third of Australian families. Naturally, such situations have resulted in traumatic experiences for many households.  

More often than not, trauma tends to have serious negative impacts on a child’s behaviour and development process. In the worst case scenario, it may increase the risk of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and suicide attempts, and alcohol and drug use. There is also strong evidence showing that trauma may have an adverse impact on brains structures that are linked to emotional and behavioural control as well as learning. These effects often make it difficult for kids to make friends, learn, and develop positive relationships.  

What is trauma-informed practice?

Schools that are trauma-informed are better equipped to help their students deal with trauma. It doesn’t require teachers to be trained in treating trauma. Instead, they are simply capable of understanding the impact of trauma on the lives of children. Schools can become trauma-informed by making its staffs aware of the prevalence and consequences of this problem and making them more confident about working with children suffering from trauma and adversity.  

Some examples of trauma-informed practice are

  • Ensuring that teachers are well informed about how to support and teach children so that they are able to build positive relationships and regulate their emotions. This involves helping children identify their emotions and get acquainted with how people around them react to certain situations.
  • Thorough assessment and revision of policies and practices of the school that may re-traumatise or trigger aggression or anxiety in students. 
  • Providing self-care strategies for teachers, helping them respond to the experience of working with trauma impacted children. 
  • Encouraging teachers to recognise the strengths of their students so that they are able to develop their own learning goals. 

If you have any questions related to the developmental needs of your child, please feel free to contact our expert educators at WillowBee Early Learning Centre.