Trauma, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. This could also include: poverty, abuse, neglect, family violence, absent parents, adoption, immigration, community violence, natural disasters, serious mental illness, generational trauma, substance abuse in the home and medical procedures.
A trauma-informed school equips child-serving professionals within the system to make decisions differently. The trauma-informed professional recognizes that not all children fit neatly into the same box. Therefore, not all policies will work for all situations and students. Research shows that the mental and emotional well-being of students is negatively impacted if they are experiencing some form of toxic stress or trauma outside the school. This reality directly affects student performance, attitude, behaviors, relationships and decision-making processes at school. A trauma-informed school would take the time to understand students' unique situations, specifically gathering information about the emotional and mental wellbeing of each student and then making custom fit decisions.