Many preventionists choose schools as a primary audience to deliver awareness presentations or prevention programs. That’s why working with schools to implement trauma-informed practices into classrooms and the school environment is an essential building block towards comprehensive prevention.
The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC) defines trauma-informed classrooms as “learning environments that work to address the educational needs of students who have experienced trauma.” Why is a trauma-informed classroom important and how does it connect to prevention work?
The Importance of Trauma Informed Classrooms
When community programs bring awareness about sexual violence into a school, this may encourage students to disclose current or past violence. Since teachers and other school staff develop long-term relationships with students, they may be the first outlet for students to seek support.
We can utilize our advocacy expertise to help schools respond well to these disclosures. We know that trauma experiences can come with challenges for students to do their best in school. Teachers want their students to succeed therefore learning more about trauma responses and ways to build safer learning environments for trauma survivors will help them support students.
Additionally, preventing sexual violence requires shifting norms related to rape culture and getting communities and institutions to reinforce healthy norms. When survivors are treated with care and respect, it not only benefits that student but contributes to an environment where sexual violence is not accepted. This allows our prevention work to go much further in schools.
These are some of the reasons why it’s important for schools to have an understanding of how to best respond and support survivors, while also fostering environments that take trauma experiences into consideration.
The Role of Schools
KCSARC produced helpful resources to promote trauma-informed classrooms. The set of cards and poster are designed to help Middle and High Schools in supporting survivors and addressing sexual assault in the school environment. The card series helps schools explore:
- Supportive responses to survivors
- Making the school environment as safe as possible for the survivor
- Developing a system to support survivors’ needs
- The importance of confidentiality
- Mandated reporter responsibilities
- Tips for safer learning environments for survivors and all students
The KCSARC resource cards and poster are a great tool that can be shared with local schools. You can start by sharing these in order to build a relationship in hopes of providing more information, or give to teachers as a resource once you’ve worked with their students. Either way, these are valuable and easy-to-read tools to have on hand! And these resources can be downloaded for free:
For more information about Creating Trauma-Informed Classrooms resources, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail).