Childhood Trauma: What a Teacher Should Know

Published On: April 1st, 2016·By ·

Have any of your students experienced a childhood trauma?

Do you know any students who experienced a childhood trauma? I found something that might help. I watch social media closely and it's my job to share some of the hot topics on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other outlets that teachers, principals, students, and parents are contributing.

Childhood trauma is a serious topic that all teachers have to consider, as much as they wish they didn't have to. Teachers find it can be a hard place to find themselves when they suspect a child is being abused or neglected. You're not their parent, but  you do work with that student every single day. There's no single “right way” to handle any situation where a child is exposed to some kind of violence, because every situation and person is different. We also need to remember that most of us are not experts. Handling situations like this requires extensive training and learning. We always want the best, but we don't always know what that is. But we're not helpless. There is something all teachers can do, and that is to become informed.

According to an infographic posted by We Are Teachers, childhood trauma is far more common than you'd want to guess. According to this chart, 26 percent of children have experienced something traumatic before they turn four. 41 percent of children under 18 reported some kind of physical assault in the past year alone. The numbers for poor inner-city children are even more heartbreaking. 70 percent of them are exposed to some kind of trauma. Sadly, there is a real chance you'll come across a student struggling with something like this during your time as a teacher. Depending on the area you work in, that number might be much higher.

childhood trauma

So what can you do? One, you can become informed, as mentioned above. You can start with STARR Commonwealth's free packet that includes the infographic from the image above. If you really think you're dealing with an abusive situation, contact authorities and experts and ask them what steps you believe you should take. Your heart is probably in the right place, but it's necessary to handle these situations delicately and to make sure that the law was followed or the situation might become worse.

Have you ever come across a student experiencing some kind of trauma? How did you deal with it? Do you have any suggested links or resources for teachers on this topic that you'd like to share?

Tori Pakizer is the Social Media Editor at She writes regularly about the use of educational technology in K-12 classrooms, and specializes in how teachers use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media. You can follow Tori and SimpleK12 on Twitter @SimpleK12. If you have ideas for using social media in schools, please send your information or tip to

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