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Publication Date

3-21-2015

First Page

112

Last Page

135

Abstract

Experiencing a traumatic event can impact students’ well-being and jeopardize their academic achievement and social-emotional health. A quarter of all students will experience a traumatic life event before they graduate from high school (Costello, Erkanli, Fairbank, & Angold, 2002), necessitating an understanding of how trauma affects students in the school context. This paper brings the perspectives of three youths to the forefront and explores their educational experiences and their perception of the role schools play in supporting students who bring trauma to school. A qualitative case study design and personal interviews with the youth led to the findings reported here. The presentation and management of the trauma and resulting stress differed among participants, and overall school experiences ranged from very negative to very positive. Participants were more unified in their perceptions of what they wanted from schools and the role that school could play. Themes across cases emphasized the importance of teacher driven, supportive, caring relationships, and the need for schools to focus on student well-being as well as academic functioning. The protective nature of school connectedness, in increasing engagement and decreasing at-risk behaviours and emotional distress (Blum, 2005; Bond et al., 2007; Klem & Connell, 2004; McNeeley, Nonnemaker, & Blum, 2002), holds promise for students with traumatic stress.


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