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    When trauma comes to school: Toward a socially just trauma-informed praxis

    O'Toole, Catriona (2022) When trauma comes to school: Toward a socially just trauma-informed praxis. International Journal of School Social Work, 6 (2). ISSN 2161-4148

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    Given the prevalence and devastating consequences of childhood trauma, there has been a surge in initiatives to help schools become trauma-informed. However, despite the growing adoption of such initiatives, a number of concerns have been expressed. These include the lack of attention paid to issues of power and inequality including poverty, racism, and community violence as well as the power of adults to neglect, mistreat or abuse children. Contemporary approaches can also serve to inscribe deficit-based perceptions of children, reinforcing negative stereotypes and stigmas; and they tend to overlook the possibility that schools themselves can contribute to students’ distress, especially in the context of accountability and target-driven agendas. This paper examines current terminology in relation to adversity, trauma, and trauma-informed practice. It shows how current approaches are entangled with a dominant medical model, which views emotional distress as symptoms of mental disorder, rather than as reasonable and intelligible strategies to ensure survival. An alternative approach, co-authored by psychologists and service users/survivors and published by the British Psychological Society, known as the Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF) is then discussed. The PTMF is an approach for understanding emotional and psychological distress and troubled or troubling behavior, based primarily on issues of power and inequality. It was chosen in order to forefront social justice concerns, whilst remaining attentive to state-of-the-art and evidence-based understandings of psychological trauma and trauma-informed care. Furthermore, by drawing on the anti-oppression educational theory of Paulo Freire, it is argued a trauma-informed praxis guided and informed by the PTMF, can help redress many of the criticisms of existing approaches in schools.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Cite as: O'Toole, Catriona (2022) "When trauma comes to school: Toward a socially just trauma-informed praxis," International Journal of School Social Work: Vol. 6: Iss. 2.
    Keywords: ACEs; trauma; power; inequality; education; liberation
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Education
    Item ID: 17230
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Catriona O'Toole
    Date Deposited: 25 May 2023 10:38
    Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of School Social Work
    Publisher: New Prairie Press
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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